Village election signage causes controversy, confusion

By ASHLEY HELMS

Campaign signage has caused some controversy after the village’s Republican and Democratic Board of Trustee candidates were notified that some of their political signs weren’t in compliance with size regulations, as outlined in the village code.

Political campaign signs have touched off controversy after the village’s Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers posted signs that were in violation of size regulations as outlined in the Mamaroneck Village Code. Mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer said he removed a noncompliant sign within hours, but incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs up, like this sign on the DeLancey House.  Photo/Ashley Helms

Political campaign signs have touched off controversy after the village’s Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers posted signs that were in violation of size regulations as outlined in the Mamaroneck Village Code. Mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer said he removed a noncompliant sign within hours, but incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs up, like this sign on the DeLancey House.
Photo/Ashley Helms

But Democratic mayoral candidate Clark Neuringer and trustee candidate Kerry Stein said they had their noncompliant signs removed, while Republicans Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro left theirs untouched due to an interpretation of village code that allows them to leave the signs up for 90 days after an issued violation.

Village Building Inspector Bill Gerety issued a notice of violation on Oct. 11 regarding Neuringer and Stein’s political banner on the property of Daniel S. Natchez and Associates, located on 916 East Boston Post Road. In the notice, Gerety states that Natchez’s sign exceeded the 16 square feet regulation.

According to the village code, political posters may also be created and placed without a permit provided they are “not exceeding 16 square feet, provided that: Placement shall not exceed 60 days before nor 30 days following the event.”

In a separate section, the code states that if the code enforcer finds any sign outlined in the chapter, which includes political signs, to be noncompliant or is a menace to the public, they can give written notice to the property owner.

As Gerety interpreted the village code, political posters and banners on a property cannot exceed a total of 16 square feet.

Village Manager Richard Slingerland said that according to the code, each individual sign can not exceed 16 square feet.

“We notified both campaigns of the issue and I believe they took respective action,” he said. “The Rosenblum campaign has questioned some other issues and the constitutionality of it.”

Due to the timing of when the violations were issued, the 90-day timeframe would allow property owners to leave the signs up until after the Nov. 5 election.

In a letter to Gerety, Natchez said it wasn’t one sign that he had on his property that was over 16 square feet, but rather three independent signs adjacent to each other. Natchez believed he was following village code, but removed the signs when he said he was notified that the 16 square feet rule was a cumulative measurement of all the political signs on a property.

“I believe in following the rules and if you make a mistake, you correct it,” Natchez said.

After a property owner on Fenimore Road was notified that a sign was too large, Neuringer said that it was taken down within three hours. A small political banner was placed next to a larger one, and Neuringer said that made it look like one complete sign, causing the violation.

“We immediately pulled down the banner and immediately were in compliance,” he said.

Regarding the Republicans’ signs, the Democrat said Rosenbl-um and Santoro are waiting until the election is over to remove their noncompliant signs because the 90-day window allows them to legally leave them in place.

Though Neuringer disagrees with Gerety’s interpretation of the village code with respect to the 16-foot cumulative rule, he said he and Stein complied nonetheless, adding that his opponents’ non-compliance with the building inspector’s order has to do with more than campaign signs.

“It has…to do with following the rules,” Neuringer said. “The building inspector makes the rules and the mayor says to forget about it.”

Santoro said he ran into the same issues with size compliance when he ran for re-election two years ago. Attempting to correct the issue this time, the trustee said he separated the signs so no one of them would be more than 16 square feet. Though the building inspector said the signs still weren’t in compliance after being separated, Santoro said he and Rosenblum are legally able to leave them in place regardless.

“[Rosenblum and I] are saying they’re separate signs, but the code enforcer said it isn’t in compliance, but we have 90 days. They told that to everyone else, too” he said.

The incumbents’ signs that were in violation are located on several places, including the DeLancey House on the corner of Fenimore Road and Boston Post Road, at the Mamaroneck Train Station, on Mamaroneck Avenue and Boston Post Road and on Boston Post Road by Harrison Avenue.

During an Oct. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, resident Allison Stabile asked why Rosenblum didn’t agree with the violation handed down by the building inspector.

“What does this mean for the way our rules are enforced?” she asked.

The mayor did not answer Stabile while she was speaking in front of the board, but gave a response later on after she left the meeting. He said that questions about the campaign signs and why he isn’t taking them down are nothing more than politically-driven behavior.

“I felt the signs that were discussed were well within our village code,” Rosenblum said. “It doesn’t surprise me it came out just before the election.”

Though Rosenblum said he too disagrees with Gerety’s interpretation of the law, he said the building inspector did his job well. The mayor said that he will leave the signs up until after the election because it’s part of the electoral process.

Regarding Neuringer’s attentiveness to the village code and criticism over his decision to leave the signs up, Rosenblum said it’s “hypocritical,” and said Neuringer supports the sign regulations, but violated the village ethics code.

Gerety could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact: ashley@hometwn.com