LIVINGSTON, NJ – Members of the Livingston Business Development District (BID) attended Monday night’s council meeting to present their proposal for business sidewalk sign use in town.

Mayor Rudy Fernandez explained that, about two years ago, after meeting with business owners and finding out what they wanted, the town passed an ordinance outlining sign usage. The BID was then asked to follow up with the regulations of the ordinance to refine it and to make sure it coincided with an aesthetic plan for the streetscape.

Presenting the plan were BID members Peter Schofel and Beth Lippman.

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“The purpose of these signs is really to help drive business and to help business--and that is what we are here for--and we talk about the balance of helping business but not having signs all over our streetscapes,” said Lippman.

“The BID feels that sidewalk signs are very important and integral for the enhancement to the businesses in town, added Schofel. “We want to compliment the streetscape and not have signs over take it.”

In the BID’s proposal, “sandwich” or sidewalk signs would be available by permit only. The permit would be issued by the building department and available to property owners at an annual fee of $100. Schofel said they decided to give the permits to the landowners to create “self-regulation.”

He said, “Some landlords won’t want to go through the trouble, unless tenants push them to do it, so we think the number of the signs will diminish.”

We have a number of landlords on our committee and they are for this idea,” added Lippman. “The landlords want to decide who can use the signs and for how long.”

Another stipulation limited the number of signs available for each building to one.  In this scenario, the landowner will decide who gets the sign and for how long during the yearly term of the permit.  For example, they can assign it to the tenant on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Schofel said that during discussion, some BID members questioned whether one sign per building was enough, especially for properties that have multiple restaurants.  “We went back and forth on it and decided to defer to the council for their opinion,” he said. “I can see that having a lot of value, you look at the good down town restaurants and they are settled next to each other.”

Another possible exception to the rules would be for areas where there is no street traffic such as the back part of the Walgreens complex.

To stay constant with the design of the streetscape, signs will also have to be approved by the BID before placement.  To make this easier for businesses, the BID came up with several styles of signs that business owners could choose from.

“The key to remember as you read through this is, is that the focus of this is for promotional purposes – it’s not just to have another sign for your store,” Schofel told the council.

“It’s to use it to bring people into your store,” Lippman said, “if you have a sale for example.”

In addition to the main points discussed with the council, the sidewalk sign proposal also limited sign visibility to regular business hours and sign content to promotional information only (no contact information such as telephone numbers, websites, or hours of operation).