Brookhaven proposes crack down on illegal and commercial signs

Brookhaven proposes crack down on illegal and commercial signs

Town of Brookhaven employees remove illegal signs from public right-of-ways. Photo courtesy Town of Brookhaven

By Sabrina Artusa

The Town of Brookhaven is making a revitalized effort to remove illegal signs and enforce commercial sign restrictions. 

Unclear diction in the existing code made enforcement difficult, but now, as the town revises the code, officials are reviewing and discarding prohibited signs throughout Brookhaven. 

Signs in the right of way along state-owned highways were simplest to extricate, as anything in that zone is considered litter according to New York State. However, restrictions unique to the town in regards to size, location and lighting were more challenging to enforce. 

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) said, “The new sign code will be a little more detailed and enforceable in regards to size, location and lighting.” According to him, unclear language and years of making exceptions make the current code insufficient. 

The proposed new code includes a more extensive list of purposes and 30 more definitions for terms and signs named in the code.

While zoning districts have different restrictions in terms of size, placement, lighting and materials, there are certain signs prohibited in all areas, such as revolving signs, reflective signs, billboards, roof signs, signs for off-premises businesses and signs attached to a tree, fence or utility pole, among others.

“The public interest has to be taken into consideration and allowing the proliferation of signs makes the streetscape look terrible,” Kornreich added. 

Improving the aesthetic of the community and preventing dangerous distractions to drivers were listed as considerations in the code revision.

While some business owners may feel these restrictions hinder their ability to attract customers, Kornreich, a small-business owner, is confident that by improving the atmosphere, more people will want to visit the area. 

Instead of signs, businesses can buy ads in newspapers or utilize websites and social media, he said. “Ultimately, making the community beautiful and a more desirable place to live is good for everybody. Our goal is not to harm small businesses — our goal is to make our downtown community better and more inviting.” 

This sentiment is echoed in the revised code. Most signs, including personal expression signs and temporary signs, require a permit from the Building Division. 

The town has sent the proposed revised code to the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and chamber of commerce, also the Three Village Civic Association and chamber of commerce for review. After a period of feedback from these organizations, there will be a public hearing. 

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