It is not uncommon for municipalities in our region to ban internally illuminated signs. In Ulster and Dutchess counties, the following municipalities do not allow them: (Towns) Amenia, Clinton, Dover, Gardiner, Hyde Park, LaGrange, Milan, Rhinebeck, Shawangunk, Stanford, Unionvale, and Washington; (Villages) Red Hook, Rhinebeck, and Wappingers Falls. In the City of Kingston, they are prohibited in the RFR district. In 2001, New Paltz was a trendsetter when it passed our current sign law banning illuminated signage. But now, the town is considering revising the law to allow them.
Why do communities ban internally lit signs? There are many reasons, including, but not limited to: negative impacts on community character, negative consequences for attracting tourism, and light pollution. As a result, it is also bad for business.
New Paltz has a unique community character, built out of a rich history and an active citizenry that has worked hard to maintain this uniqueness, to not have our town turn into “anywhere America”. New Paltz’s attractiveness to tourists is built upon this character, and will be diminished by the “strip mall” appearance lighted signs bring.
Internally illuminated lights along our main street corridor will diminish our distinctive character. Maintaining this character is critical to the success of our local economy, and keeps our town attractive to residents and visitors alike. Eight years ago, our town leadership worked hard to craft and pass a sign law that reflected this community character, and we should keep those laws in place.
There is a public hearing this Thursday 10/22 on the proposed new sign law, Town Hall at 7pm.