Great Neck Plaza officials table controversial sign law

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This mini-cooper and mobile billboard, parked along Middle Neck Road, was the subject of a proposed law in Great Neck Plaza. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Great Neck Plaza trustees voted to table a proposed sign law that would target mobile vehicle mounted signs on Wednesday, with officials saying that it was no longer an issue in the village but that they could re-introduce the law if it was needed.

“This was a matter that we had counsel draft a local law because of the potential dangers to traffic an pedestrian that we felt these advertising vehicle mounted billboards were, but we held it over for a couple months to see and monitor,” Mayor Jean Celender said.

“So far it’s one company we have that’s been doing this and he’s been pretty much staying out of the village,” Celender added.

Joseph Haghighat, the owner of Great Neck Printing, Signs & Graphic Design, said at a previous meeting that the law was specifically geared towards him. He said it could have unjustly burdened his family, his business, and harm other businesses as well.

“I should point out that this proposed ordinance appears to directly affect me, my family of six, and my 27-year-old printing design sign business, as well as so many of our Great Neck customers and Great Neck business owners from the whole Great Neck area,” Haghihat said at the time.

Fellow business owners and customers who filled the meeting room had also argued that the law was based on assumptions, would harm other businesses and that places like New York City didn’t ask anyone to take down much flashier advertising for public safety purposes.

The sign law, first introduced in the summer, had defined a vehicle-mounted sign as a sign, billboard, printing or other display affixed or mounted to a parked vehicle or trailer primarily used for advertising purposes or to attract attention or direct people to a business or activity.

Village officials previously said the legislation aimed to deter these types of billboards from parking in highly congested areas of the village like South Middle Neck Road, Middle Neck Road, Grace Avenue, Cutter Mill Road and Great Neck Road, and within 25 feet of pedestrian crosswalks.

Exemptions included allowing signs on licensed public vehicles, signs advertising a vehicle for sale, signs mandated by government, and printing on commercial vehicle advertising an associated business, so long as they fall “within the normal unaltered lines of the vehicle.”

Celender said the village board intends to keep the sign law tabled unless it becomes an issue in the future.

“If we see him return or others emulate what he’s doing – that’s not to say he’s not the only person who could be doing these signs – if we see it being a problem, we have legislation and we’ll bring it back and re-advertise it,” Celender said.

Celender added that even if they did move forward, the board would not take action if he was not present.

“I don’t want to bring it up and not give him the opportunity to be heard and be here,” Celender said.

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