Council Introduces Ordinance To Address Business Signage Issue

Ordinance 2343 was introduced at the October 20th regular meeting of Mayor & Council which changed window coverage from 10% to 30% on signs. This, in part, was in response to issues raised when the town denied Rita Pharmacy their application to have a mural on one of their non-bearing windows (link to article).

Mayor Joseph Accardi offered some comments before the ordinance was voted on for introduction, “One of my concerns about all of our sign ordinances, about all of our lighting ordinances, about all of our downtown area ordinances is that I don’t think we’re coordinating them properly. I think the problem we have is that we are reactive in setting up our ordinances.”

The mayor then referred to Chatham’s sign ordinance which took two (2) years to develop, review, and propose. That ordinance was  vetoed by Chatham’s mayor in October.

“I’m not sure that this particular ordinance as it’s written right now – changing the percentage – is the absolute answer to the problem we have, “Mayor Accardi stated, “So while I’m willing to entertain it and move it forward at this point to hear what the MLUB has to say about it and then potentially bring it back here so we can study it further, I’m not sure that this is the ordinance that will resolve our problems.”

The mayor asked the governing body to review the borough’s downtown area and business ordinances while the current ordinance is worked on to, in his words, “Provide the friendly atmosphere that we keep talking about while we maintain the standards we are looking for.”

Mayor Accardi re-iterated that he did not have a problem with moving the ordinance forward but he thought that there are other issues that need to be addressed.

“We can’t have the domino effect where we change one thing and another thing causes a problem,” he said, “We really need to look at it in tota.”

3rd Ward Councilwoman Tanya Torres also commented, stating that she, 4th Ward Councilman Modesto Miranda, and Code Enforcement Officer Carl Pluchino had met to discuss signs and other ordinances that were either dated or should be in effect. She stated that Ordinance 2343 would put Roselle Park in line with Cranford which, according to the councilwoman, had a 25% coverage ordinance, and Westfield, which she recalled as having 30%.

“Although this is not a fix-all to everything I think this is a necessary change,” stated the councilwoman.

She concluded by stating that there were a number of other changes they did not want to rush on so they were not put forward yet.

The mayor added to the discussion by stating that he believed the implementation of the SID (Special Improvement District) would open better communication between businesses and council.

“There’s nothing more frustrating than to have an ordinance that was written in 1980 that’s been amended 342 times,” the mayor remarked, referring to numerous changes to existing ordinances, “Every time there’s a problem we make an amendment.”

The ordinance was approved for introduction unanimously and will now go to MLUB (Municipal Land Use Board) for a 45-day review.