Signs in Crosshairs

Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman had seen enough. According to a press release, he was fed up with the proliferation of signs illegally posted along roads in Bridgehampton and Water Mill and ordered town workers to remove them. More than 100 signs touting everything from junk hauling to summer camps were disposed of in a sweep.

“We have devoted so much effort to preserve our natural beauty we are not going to let it be marred by illegal advertising on our roadways from companies looking to make a fast buck,” Mr. Schneiderman said in the announcement. While Southampton officials declined to issue citations this time, they warned that repeat violators could be charged with littering, obstructing roads, the private use of public rights of way, and placing prohibited signs.

In East Hampton Town, officials who should take a cue from their counterparts in Southampton basically ignore illegal signs. Building companies and others frequently place too-large signs on roadsides or leave them up longer than allowed. In one particularly weird instance, the town’s Building Department slapped a stop-work order on an architect’s Bluff Road, Amagansett, sign that was several square feet larger than the legal maximum and had been left standing for months beyond the date by which, under the law, it should have been removed. Even after the construction issue had been resolved, the insanely large sign stayed in place, but sporting a nice new building permit.

Similarly, both Perry Gershon and Lee Zeldin supporters nearby have erected their own illegally sized placards, which one would think would be a simple matter for town code enforcers to resolve. (Andy Sabin, we’re looking at you.) 

Is it corruption? Ignorance? Laziness? Is Town Hall understaffed and overworked? Are our elected officials afraid of angering voters in the trades? Are they over-solicitous of the real estate industry? Who knows. What is obvious is that no one in a position of authority appears to care, while violations spread like mushrooms after heavy rain.

Some years ago an East Hampton code officer told us that most people who put up illegal signs simply don’t know the law, that in general a quick phone call was all it took to get compliance. With business phone numbers on most, if not all, of the improper signs, why Town Hall does not drop the dime is a very good question.

Meanwhile, here’s to Jay Schneiderman and Southampton Town staff members who decided that a better-looking, more rule-following community mattered. Good work, folks. Let’s hope East Hampton Town gets the message.