More than a week has passed since Williamsville threw its pedestrian block party, but efforts to “take back Main Street” show no signs of slowing down.
The village board Monday discussed new measures aimed at protecting Main Street from sloppy development and regulating signs put out by businesses and political candidates.
The village is coming off Picture Main Street Live, a street festival that closed down traffic on Main to preview proposed changes coming later next year, including adding pedestrian elements like bulb-outs and crosswalks to help calm traffic.
Monday, the board set a public hearing for a new process that would require developers of major projects to meet with village officials and provide a sketch of the project before appearing before the planning and zoning boards.
The hearing on the proposed rules, aimed at streamlining the development process while protecting neighborhood character, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Village Hall, 5565 Main St.
The board also weighed the effects of different types of signs that have popped up on sidewalks outside businesses on Main Street.
“A-frame” signs popular in front of restaurants are illegal, leaders said, but the law is not strictly enforced and trustees debated whether they should be allowed.
“I understand the theory about not blocking the right-of-way,” Village Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said, “but in a pedestrian-scaled community, you’re supposed to use small signs to catch people’s eyes.”
Restaurants along Main Street commonly use the “fold-out” signs to advertise specials offered on a particular day or to let customers know parking exists behind their restaurants.
But some board members questioned whether the signs create a cluttered appearance along Main, particularly at election time when candidates plaster their signs along the road.
“I’d rather not see them,” Village Trustee Christopher J. Duquin said. “I’m disgusted by the signs that are on Main Street right now. The candidates are littering Main Street with their signs.”
Legally, the board could not outlaw some categories of signs because of their content, such as political signs, while allowing others, Village Attorney Charles D. Grieco said.
“There is nothing harder to regulate than signs,” Grieco said. “It’s a constant battle.”
Some officials suggested the board should look outward to see what has and hasn’t worked in surrounding communities.
The Village of Kenmore has a similar code stating the A-frame signs are illegal but Willamsville code enforcement officers told board members that Kenmore officials do not strictly enforce the policy.
They were also told to refer to the City of Buffalo’s new proposals for flexible codes on signs, which a code enforcement officer said were “pretty good.”
Kulpa said the village should discourage the type of signs that cover the majority of a storefront or prevent transparency along a commercial district.
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