Lake Placid-North Elba pass new sandwich board codes

Because sandwich boards violate sign codes, Main Street businesses often lean them against their storefronts, out of the way of sidewalk traffic. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — A-frame sandwich boards are back, but with a few guidelines.

Both the village of Lake Placid and the town of North Elba approved a code in regard to businesses using sandwich boards to promote their shops and restaurants. The village board approved the changes at its regular meeting Monday, July 2, and the town board approved it Tuesday night. The last step to make the code official is filling it with the Department of State in Albany. The process normally takes a day to complete.

Sandwich boards are now allowed in the “Gateway Corridor” (Saranac Avenue) and “Village Center” (Main Street) as long as they adhere to these rules:

¯ 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 be 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 inside 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, cannot be illuminated, cannot include whiteboard surfaces or neon or fluorescent letters, and cannot 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 removal by the code enforcement officer.

In a previous interview, Lake Placid Business Association President Lori Fitzgerald said the new code 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 actually more dangerous, but we wanted something passed so our members can promote themselves for summer.”

However, Fitzgerald did have some concerns, mainly with the application process. She said the language in the code makes it so every individual business owner would have to apply for a sign permit with the 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 she said at least it’s a start.

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

Marc Galvin, co-owner of Bookstore Plus, agreed with Fitzgerald. He said he’s happy the code is updated, but having individual businesses get approval from the Joint Review Board will take a lot of time. That board meets twice a month, and materials seeking approval need to be filed 10 days in advance, so that means no business can present a sandwich board at the July 18 meeting. They’ll have to wait until August.

“We wanted to see the boards up this summer,” Galvin said, “but now it looks like we’ll have to wait for the fall.”

Galvin continued, saying this is a great starting point for signage and he’s interested to see what designs businesses create.

In a phone interview, village Mayor Craig Randall said the new code might not satisfy every business owner, but he thinks it’s a step in the right direction.

“As far as what it addresses, which is some use of sandwich boards to help retailers promote their shops and eateries, it’s an effort on the part of the town and village to accommodate these business, and do it in a manner of good public policy and safety. It’s not a perfect answer for everyone who may want to use a board. Some areas are too restricted because of limited sidewalk space, but I think it is addressing some of the need that the [LPBA] brought to the village board.”