We wish Stephen Lynch well in his new post as East Hampton Town’s next superintendent of highways, but there is a certain sweet irony in his election. Among the responsibilities he is soon to have is keeping the roadsides clear of anything that does not conform to the town code, notably signs larger than six square feet. This is paradoxical because Mr. Lynch’s campaign billboards and parked, truck and trailer-mounted messages were among the most expansive of this year’s political season and, as such, were obvious violations of the law.
We do not mean to single out Mr. Lynch. Plenty of other oversize signs and illegal off-premises come-ons kept his company. Nevertheless, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Scott King, the outgoing highway superintendent, other elected officials, and Town Hall personnel drove to work each day past other examples without doing anything about it. (Yes, we know we bring this up frequently, but we are going to keep at it until someone in authority starts paying attention.)
Normally, these rules are within the purview of the Ordinance Enforcement Department, but it was as if its staff had never read the town code. You have to wonder what other less-obvious violations of the town code go without remedy.
As of the January organization meeting at which he is to be sworn in, Mr. Lynch will be in a unique position in town government: He answers only to voters and does not have to operate in the highly politicized environment of the town board. The code, which he will promise to uphold, gives him the right — shared with the town police — to remove signs, illegal obstructions, and other objects of concern within the town’s right-of-ways. Mr. Lynch should study the code, seeking independent, outside advice, if need be, so that he can direct his crews to remove whatever is necessary to put a stop to this ever-expanding visual affront to public property, good taste, and the law.