SOMERS, N.Y.— A strip mall owner’s request to add more signs to his Mahopac Avenue building was unanimously denied last month by the Somers Zoning Board of Appeals.
Larry Levine, whose tenants are Jim Smith Karate, Hudson Valley Hockey, Club Evolution, and Sunny 4U Nails and Spa, argued that his building is not visible enough to passing motorists on Route 6.
“The way that the building is situated, it’s sitting on a piece of property and the front of it is facing Mahopac Avenue,” Levine said. “They’re having issues with the customers actually knowing that they’re in the building.”
To improve this, Levine requested additional signage along the side of the building that faces Route 6. Currently, there is only a sign for Jim Smith Karate on that side of the building. All other signs face Mahopac Avenue. Levine’s request required a variance from the board to allow more signs than the code permits.
Board Chair Victor Cannistra said he was opposed to the size of the proposed signage, which were between 36 and 40 square feet each. He was also unsure how beneficial it would even be to the tenants.
“I just don’t know if these signs in the back of the building, when these trees are in bloom, how beneficial they’re going to be,” Cannistra said. “Are we just creating more light boxes and more clutter on the building? That was my feeling.”
Levine said he respected Cannistra’s concerns, but said he was not worried about the trees blocking the new signs. He said he has a good relationship with the neighboring farm owner, who reportedly told Levine he would prune the trees for him. He also said the trees are bare six months out of the year.
Board member Bruce Prince was strongly opposed to granting the variance, saying other business owners might apply for the same variance.
“I think you’re opening up a Pandora’s Box,” Prince said. “If you’re going either direction on Route 6, I think there is adequate signage to tell you those businesses are located there. I just don’t see why we should break and go against the present zoning.”
Though he ultimately voted against the application, board member William Harden was more sympathetic to Levine’s request.
“They are making a genuine offer to improve their business by improving their signage,” Harden said. “It seems to me that particular building has a unique problem and they are correct in coming here and asking for a unique solution.”
Board member Arnold Guyot suggested an alternative: upgrading the pylon sign near the edge of the property on Route 6. That sign, he said, could possibly be made bigger and illuminated.
“That would be a large help,” Levine said. “Right now it’s a fight to get tenants and to keep tenants.”
Levine said he may return with a new application requesting upgrades to the pylon sign.