Wooden signs to be required for borough businesses

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — An ordinance requiring signs on borough businesses to be constructed from wood or of an artificial wood-grain texture was adopted by council on Feb. 16.

The goal of the new measure is to create a high-end aesthetic for the Point Beach downtown, according to Mayor Paul Kanitra, setting a new standard for the borough in years to come.

The ordinance sets criteria for future businesses, as well as existing signage throughout the borough. Current businesses would not be mandated to change their existing signs immediately, officials said. Businesses can keep existing signs until they need to be fixed or replaced, when they then must conform to the ordinance.

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The ordinance also says signs must be maintained; if a borough code official finds a major issue with a sign, the sign may need to be replaced.

The ordinance also goes along with the proposed Historic Overlay District, as signs on those in the district must match the building’s distinct features.

Businesses would also be able to apply for waivers to install unique signs such as a large theater marquee or something similar, officials said.

Discussion Tuesday night concerned whether the ordinance would apply to all signs in the borough.

“You go to some of these towns, Haddonfield, Cape May, whatever, the ACME sign is the same look as anybody else and they have to adhere to it,” said Mr. Kanitra.

But, the mayor said, if a sign was just recently replaced, such as the Wendy’s sign on Route 35, that sign may not have to be replaced for years to come.

Councilmen Andy Cortes and Bob Santanello voted against the adoption of the ordinance, questioning parts of the change.

“At the introduction, it was claimed that the ordinance does not apply to boardwalk businesses, the ordinance doesn’t state that,” said Mr. Santanello. He said the measure does not fit the character and style along the boardwalk.

Signs with existing zoning variances, like those that light up on the boardwalk, are not included by this ordinance, according to Borough Attorney Kevin Riordan.

“If you have an existing sign which is a prior nonconforming use, you get to keep it, unless and until it needs to be maintained, in which case you need to bring it up to the current standards,” said Mr. Riordan during the ordinance introduction.

Mr. Cortes questioned the effect of the ordinance in regard to small signs and neon signs in store window fronts.

“I will tell you that a lot of businesses have been doing things that they shouldn’t in regard to what is allowed in the window fronts,” said Mr. Kanitra, adding there has been very lenient enforcement in the borough.

“The prevalence of people who have done stuff that they did not ask permission for and is going completely against what previous governing bodies deemed was important for the town, is staggering,” said the mayor. “The bottom line for Point Pleasant Beach is you don’t get to do what you want to do anymore without asking for permission or doing the right thing.”

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