A Time Of The Signs - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1977209

A Time Of The Signs

What a beautiful Memorial Day weekend to stroll through downtown Southampton Village and see the utter joke that has been made of sign enforcement in our beautiful village.

There is the jeweler who put large writing on the pitch of their new awnings several years ago, even though code specifically requires writing to be on the bib only.

There is the sundry store that opened a few years ago on Jobs Lane, facing Agawam Park, that put up an oversize and unapproved sign, came back and had a smaller one approved, and yet continues to use the large and unsightly one, because apparently the village doesn’t care about either the detrimental aesthetics or the message it sends to all other shop owners.

My personal favorite is the store directly across from Citarella, which has had an illegal extra sign (on flimsy printed vinyl-coated material) for the past three years. Nothing says “welcome to our quaint village” more than a 1970s mansard roof plastered with excessive and illegal signage, which at various times has advertised “50 percent off” as though the store was hocking inflatable pools on the side of a highway outside the Vegas strip.

But the very, very worst are the portable “tent” signs that now litter our sidewalks and setbacks. For the first 25 years I lived in Southampton Village, the only sidewalk sign I ever saw was once or twice a summer to announce a sale. Even then, they were illegal, but they were few enough and far enough between that one barely noticed.

This past weekend, I counted 28 tent signs on Jobs Lane, Main Street and Hampton Road. One triumphantly offered (in 8-inch font): “Foot Rub, $45.” That one sat less than a foot (rubbed or not) off Jobs Lane.

That rivals the one easily visible from a major intersection that encourages those passing by the offending dry cleaner to “Drop Your Pants Here.” Cheeky.

Subchapter 116-13 F (5) is perhaps the shortest in the entire code: “Portable signs are prohibited in all districts.” No ambiguity there — no extra adjectives or loophole-inducing vagueness.

And there is a reason why portable signs are prohibited: Most are ugly, and when there are 28 of them in about a half mile of street, we begin to look like a discount mall, not a beautiful village shopping district.

A friend asked me recently, “If those ugly signs are illegal, why are they allowed to be there? Why aren’t they confiscated?”

Excellent questions, my friend, excellent questions.

Rob Coburn