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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 8, 2011
Crawmer objects to zoning that prohibits ad on bike banner
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND A local business owner feels his right to free speech is being violated by the restrictions on signage in the town.
David Crawmer, who owns Computer Fare on Carman Road, was notified that a sign he had placed on a bicycle parked outside his business was in violation of the town’s zoning ordinance on banners.
Guilderland’s zoning enforcement officer, Rodger Stone, stopped at the store and told Crawmer that he had to remove the sign.
“My thoughts are that the town has every right to have signage codes, but they shouldn’t have jurisdiction over mobile signage, or anything with wheels,” Crawmer told The Enterprise this week.
Chapter 280, Article 26 of the zoning code states, “No person shall erect, enlarge, change colors, cover or structurally alter any sign without first obtaining a permit.” Stone said that applies to any type of sign, whether it is on a building, a lawn, or a vehicle.
“The code is in place to keep the look of the town clean, and nice,” said Stone earlier this week.
“It is the design of the town that all persons concerned with the location, design and regulation of signs give full consideration as to the impact that signs have on the visual quality and character of Guilderland,” the code states.
“I think that’s a bit overzealous,” said Crawmer. “I have to pay to advertise my business, and meanwhile I have this storefront where I could be advertising my specials.”
Crawmer also expressed concern over the consistency with which the law is enforced throughout the town.
“I want to know, do they have a double standard?” Crawmer asked. He listed various other businesses that he has seen in Guilderland with banners, or employees standing outside holding signs that advertise specials.
“That’s the usual response we get when we cite someone for a violation,” said Stone. “The person starts pointing out other violations they’ve seen.” But, Stone said, he sends literally hundreds of violation letters out to businesses regarding signage, and also stops whenever he is driving and sees a violation.
“I am only one person and I do everything I can for everyone in the town,” said Stone. He noted that Crawmer could make an application to the zoning board of appeals to get a permit in order to display his banner.
In a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, Crawmer said he was made aware that he could “jump through a few hoops” to get permission to hang his sign.
The Zoning Review Committee, appointed in 2009, and charged with going through the existing zoning laws and making changes to update them, will review the laws on signage, according to Stone.
“It’s not really to change the code, but to make the code easier to navigate, so it would be easier for people to obtain permits,” Stone said.
“I think this should be challenged,” said Crawmer. He said he would gladly attend a Zoning Review Committee meeting to represent local business owners.
“I am hoping that, if and when the public meeting occurs, the Guilderland business community will make themselves heard,” wrote Crawmer in his letter.
“This restrictive code violates free speech,” he concluded this week.