Village Appears to Favor Smaller Signs

Agencies do not object to proposed restriction

    The East Hampton Village Board held a public hearing on Friday on a law that would restrict the size of real estate signs from the currently allowed seven square feet to one and a half square feet. The room was packed with people, but no one spoke out against the proposed code amendment, though some did say it was a little too restrictive.
    “When this sign change came about, I was really interested,” said Sarah Minardi, an agent with Saunders and a village resident. “But one and a half feet is very, very small. It really doesn’t showcase the house at all.” Ms. Minardi held up a sign she had brought to the hearing, which was 16 by 24 inches or a little more than three square feet, the size that Saunders agents use in the village.
    “This is only a first step,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., told the crowd. “This is the beginning of a conversation.”
    The board and the audience agreed that the additional signs that hang down from the main real estate sign are an unnecessary eyesore.
    “I am lending support for the change,” said J.B. D’Santos, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens. “It interferes with the beauty of our village, especially the addition of the riders,” he said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.” Westhampton and Shelter Island both use real estate signs that are one and a half square feet, as does Palm Beach, Fla.
    John Gicking, the manager of the  East Hampton office of Sotheby’s International Realty, applauded the board for taking this preliminary step. “I abhor the signs in the village,” he said. “They are too many and too big. We’ve tried out the very small size, the same as Palm Beach, and we’ve had the same level of calls.”
    “I don’t think signs are the way brokers sell homes,” he added. “I fully support this effort.”
    “There will be more hearings before we decide anything,” said Elbert Edwards, a board member. Mayor Rickenbach added that the board had already decided to allow more time to come into compliance than had been proposed in a draft of the law — changing 60 days to 90 days “assuming there’s a resolution.”
    The matter will be left open for public discussion until the board’s work session next Thursday, when it will be discussed again in more depth.
    In other village government news, John Lundy of the auditing firm Lundy and Co. offered a favorable snapshot of the village’s finances. He reported that East Hampton Village holds total assets of about $3.6 million, with liabilities of approximately $300,000, leaving a fund balance of $3.3 million, which constitutes about 18 percent of the total budget.
    “It’s a very healthy balance,” he said. “Ten percent used to be the norm, but you need to have larger fund balances and reserves, because in a small town, if something goes wrong, it can go very wrong.”
    He applauded Larry Cantwell, the village administrator, for “a very good year.”
    “Every year Larry and his staff do the best job we’ve seen out of the 30 municipalities we audit,” he said. “You guys should go on tour.”