As summer hits its August high notes, many readers have no doubt noticed the wild and recent proliferation of signs along roadsides in East Hampton Town. From Wainscott to Montauk, shoulders are littered with all sorts of commercial come-ons as well as businesses tarted up like a Nevada cathouse with sandwich-board festoonery, flags, and outdoor merchandise in the right of way. If you were thinking so far that this was yet another example of Town Hall ignoring its own regulations, you would be right.
During the past few years, an it’s-all-good attitude coming from the Pantigo Road executive suite has been unmistakable. Paying no heed to signs that are variously oversize, left up too long, or erected without permits, has been just one of the visible instances of a fearful lethargy that has gripped town enforcement. Sign scofflaws are so pervasive that they can count at least one appointed town official among their ranks.
Over the last few months, we have written about some of the quality-of-life concerns we believe the candidates for town office in November should be addressing. What our roadways and public spaces look like should be added to a list that includes restoring essential services and, more daunting perhaps, addressing sea-level rise. Some may consider the town’s sign laws a minor concern, but to us their enforcement, or lack thereof, is an indication of what has been happening with other hard-fought rules that were supposed to be mandatory.
Stopping the spread of illegal eye-catchers should start right away, but realistically, until a new administration takes over, we expect more signs rather than fewer. Still, the public interest in uncluttered roadways would be well served if candidates for office began to speak up. Complying with the law in this and all regards should no longer be optional in East Hampton Town.