Town of Dunkirk boards discuss code modifications

The town of Dunkirk is working on updating its town code. The Dunkirk Town Board, in addition to members of the town zoning board, recently met to discuss any proposed changes to the town’s zoning code.

During a recent special work session, members of both boards discussed temporary and lighted signs. Currently, the town has three electronic signs but the town needs to decide how long the duration of flashing electronic signs, either eight or 10 seconds, should be required by the code. All electronic signs are based on square footage of the building and a maximum of 40 square feet is one of the proposed changes; this is an increase from 32 square feet in some zoning districts.

The town currently allows temporary signs under certain restrictions. Code Enforcement Officer Ryan Mourer explained he has restricted some temporary signs, including employee holding signs at the shoulder of the road. Mourer said he now requires employees to be 30 feet from the right of way when holding signs.

In addition to handheld signs, banners or flags are also allowed. Mourer said the car dealerships stretch the power given to them the most. Mourer would like to streamline an application process for businesses who want to put up temporary signs.

The two boards discussed having a permit to allow businesses to utilize temporary signs for two weeks then taking down the signs for two weeks. A proposed permit fee of $25 for the second time and $50 for a third permit, with the first occasion being free, was discussed. Mourer hopes that businesses would be honest and follow the permit guidelines.

“Ninety percent of the time, I believe, if you put it in writing, the honest people will be honest and most of the dishonest people will stay honest,” Mourer said.

If there was a specified time for the permits, Mourer would have to police the businesses for compliance. He also brought up the idea of having one start date for all businesses to start.

Mourer gave the example of all businesses starting on the first of the month then having everyone stop at the same time. Businesses would be given the opportunity to start on the first of the month but could start at anytime as long as their signs are taken down by the end date. Town Supervisor Richard Purol said he would be in favor of the two-week permit.

“It’s actually better if everybody does it at the same time. … What happens is one guy is getting the business because he has the advertisement up and the other guy is going to do it anyway. That’s where we have a problem. They’re competing with each other,” Purol said.

Mourer said he has had problems with banners and flags outside of businesses encroaching further out on sidewalks. Many neighboring businesses will have banners or flags making the sidewalk like “a maze” to navigate around.

Town Clerk Jean Crane brought up the issue of oversized inflatables being brought in as promotional devices. Mourer suggested instituting a special use permit for large inflatables. Members of both boards will discuss the temporary sign restrictions at the next meeting on July 8 and how they want to approach policing temporary signs. Councilman Mark Kutner said if the town were to eliminate the permit fees the town would see a loss in revenue.

The board members also discussed home businesses. The group will have to further discuss how much percentage of a residence should be the business and how many employees should be employed. Mourer said the town probably does not want “a six-person operation in a residential neighborhood.”

“We should have some type of ground rules specified for home businesses when you have a home business a) what type of business and b) the amount of people who can work there,” Mourer said.

The town board also decided to eliminate the M2 district, which is industrial near Purina and just making it an M1 Industrial District.

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