Digital signs prohibited in Guilderland

— File photo

The Guilderland Public Library is one of the venues in town that already has a programmable digital sign. Those signs — at churches, schools, and firehouses — will remain despite the new law that prohibits such signs in town.

GUILDERLAND — The town has banned programmable digital signs.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, after a public hearing in which no arguments were made for or against the proposal, the town board adopted its seventh local law of the year.

“No electronic variable message, automatic changeable copy, or programmable digital signs shall be permitted, except for the non-flashing display of time, temperature and/or date, public service information or fuel prices at automobile service stations,” states the law.

The board had said earlier that digital signs already in place at firehouses, schools, churches, or the public library would remain despite a court ruling that allowed the neighboring town of Bethlehem to deny a school digital sign.

The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District in 2017 had challenged the town of Bethlehem in an Article 78 proceeding over an electronic sign it wanted to place at an elementary school, stating the district was immune from the town’s zoning that prohibited such signs.

After the Albany County Supreme Court dismissed the application, RCS appealed. The Appellate Division found that the district was not immune from the town’s zoning ordinances and the town’s denial of the district’s application for the sign was not arbitrary and capricious.

Although Guilderland Town Board members had no comment before voting on Tuesday, they had had earlier discussions as board members researched the issue. Traffic safety issues, caused when drivers are distracted by the changing messages on a sign, was a top concern.

The town’s planning board had reviewed the law at its May 11 meeting and supported the proposed amendments.

While signs in Guilderland may be lit, they cannot flash or have moving lights or letters; the light must be of a “constant intensity.” Light cannot be beamed on a public street or sidewalk or adjacent premises, the law says.

Further, roof signs, billboards, freestanding or pole signs are not permitted. Neither are “bizarre, caricature, offensive, or vulgar signs permitted.”

The law also lists various prohibited placements of signs. They are not allowed where they would prevent “ingress to or egress from a door window or fire escape.” Nor can a sign be “erected so as to confuse or obstruct the view of a traffic sign, signal, or device.”

Signs cannot project beyond a property line and cannot be painted on a wall. 

Landscape plantings are to be placed and maintained at the base of all monument signs, the law says, and signs, with their supports, are to be kept in good repair.

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