Lake Placid proposes changes for sandwich board signs

If approved, A-frame sandwich board signs such as this one, pictured outside Bookstore Plus, would be allowed on Main Street and Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid, under certain guidelines. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — After some consideration and two well-attended public hearings, the village Board of Trustees has proposed an amendment to current code regulations regarding sandwich board A-frame signs in the Village Center and Gateway Corridor zoning districts.

The Village Center is Main Street, and the Gateway Corridor is Saranac Avenue from Main Street in Lake Placid to Ray Brook. The two districts currently don’t allow any A-frames, but the board presented 11 points to amend the code during Monday night’s village board meeting:

¯ Only one sandwich board per building entrance.

¯ Sandwich boards on Main Street can be no taller than 36 inches and no larger than 6 square feet per side.

¯ Sandwich boards on Saranac Avenue can be no taller than 48 inches and no larger than 8 square feet per side.

¯ Any signs on Main Street must have one edge placed right against the building and no more than 3 feet from the entrance, and it must be tethered to the building.

¯ On Main Street, no part of the sign may be located within 6 feet of the roadside edge of the curb, or parking kiosk or light pole, whichever is closest to the building.

¯ On Saranac Avenue, any sign must be located within 20 feet of the building and not in the driveway or parking lot of the building or within the highway right-of-way.

¯ Signs in either district must be free standing and be of natural earth tone colors only, not be illuminated, not include whiteboard surfaces or neon or fluorescent letters, and not contain any advertising of a specific product on the frame.

¯ Any sign in either district shall be displayed during business hours only and shall be brought inside the building when the business is closed.

¯ Any sign in either district requires a permit from the code enforcement officer and must be approved by the village-town Joint Review Board unless the review board delegates such authority to the code enforcement officer.

¯ Neither the village nor town will be liable if the sign causes harm or damage to anyone or his or her property. It will be the lessee applicant’s responsibility.

¯ Signs that don’t follow these rules are subject to the removal by the code enforcement officer.

The proposal came after many business owners said the removal of sandwich boards had a negative financial impact on their shops and eateries. Gallery 46 Manager Jon Donk said in a previous interview, “The minute those sandwich boards went down, our business went down. It’s not just us, too. It seems like every business along Main Street was affected by it.”

Though sandwich boards haven’t officially been allowed in either zoning district for over two decades, Lake Placid Business Association President Lori Fitzgerald said the code was only enforced when Michael Orticelle became the code enforcement officer in 2017. In previous interviews, Orticelle has said he has no personal opinion on the matter and that he enforces the code the way it’s written.

The regulations on sandwich boards were set in 1992 mainly to keep sidewalks clear and so that two wheelchairs could pass each other. Village Mayor Craig Randall has said multiple times that the comfort and safety of pedestrians is one of the prominent concerns on Main Street.

The village board is expected to make a decision on this amendment at its July 2 meeting. The town of North Elba would also need to approve the amendment before it becomes local law, but in past interviews, town Supervisor Roby Politi said North Elba will follow the village’s lead.

Fitzgerald said the proposal covers most of what the LPBA is looking to accomplish.

“We’re happy to compromise to get something,” she said. “We believe that tethering is more actually dangerous, but we wanted something passed so our members can promote themselves for summer.”

However, Fitzgerald did have some concerns, mainly with the proposed application process. She said the language in the proposal makes it seem that every individual business owner would have to apply for a sign permit with the village-town Joint Review Board. Fitzgerald and the LPBA were hoping to get multiple signs approved at once and then distribute them to LPBA members.

“That point circumvents that,” she said. “The LPBA doesn’t have its own insurance, so if a sign falls on a person or someone trips over one, we wouldn’t be able to cover it.”

Fitzgerald says this affects how quickly businesses can get signs but that at least it’s a start.

“We knew it wasn’t going get everything,” she said. “Three to six months from now, we’ll probably want to look at it again.”