Business & Finance

Cranbury: 'Neon' Signs Debated At Township Committee Meeting

Credits: Nicole M. Wells photos
Cranbury resident Richard Moody, left, and Teddy's Restaurant owner George Nikitiades debate business signs in front of the Township Committee on Feb. 27. Credits: Nicole M. Wells photos
Credits: Charles W. Kim Photo
Credits: Nicole M. Wells photos

CRANBURY, NJ – What, exactly, is the definition of a “neon” sign?

That was the question up for discussion during the Feb. 27 Township Committee meeting, as local business owners and a resident concerned about the historic nature of the village area debated the issue.

Resident Richard Moody said he is aware of six establishments in the village that have neon or fluorescent signs advertising their businesses and that such signs are in violation of the township's ordinance prohibiting them.

Sign Up for E-News

“We live around the most wonderful collection of architecture, going back to the mid-1700s, so I think it's very imperative that we do control these signs,” he said.

According to Moody, having a neon or fluorescent sign does not necessarily attract more business than a “tasteful, painted” sign would, and he cited both downtown Princeton and Lexington, Virginia as examples of commercial historical districts making do without the glare of either offending category.

“To me, it's a cut and dried case: They should be removed and not allowed in the future,” he said. “Why do you have these ordinances if you're not going to obey them?”

According to the township code, sign standards for the Village Commercial Zone indicate that, “signs shall be compatible with the historic character of the Village,” and that “no fluorescent colors or neon signs shall be permitted.”

Additionally, projecting signs, “shall be fabricated from natural materials, such as wrought iron or wrought aluminum, or natural-looking materials and compatible with the historic nature of downtown Cranbury, and shall not utilize any garish, neon or Day-Glo colors,” the code reads.

One of the signs at issue is the New Jersey Lottery sign hanging in the window of Teddy's Restaurant.

Committeeman Jay Taylor, who was part of the original subcommittee that worked on the “neon” signs ordinance, said that Moody was mistaking the original intent of the wording.

“The issue of neon and fluorescent is referenced in colors,” Taylor said. “(Teddy's) lottery sign does not contain neon or fluorescent colors.”

Taylor also said the township does not prohibit lit signs, and that enforcing the ordinance for a sign as small as the one in Teddy's would be difficult to do, according to the township planner and attorney.

Teddy's owner George Nikitiades, who attended the meeting with his lawyer, said further restricting the town's businesses was “not playtime” and that the lottery is an important part of his bottom line.

“I need the lottery because a lot of people in this room don't come in to Teddy's,” he said. “So I need to support my restaurant, my family and everybody. The lottery has been a huge help.”

Nikitiades said he always supports the town with whatever it needs, in monetary and food donations, because he loves Cranbury, and that he pays more than $26,000 a year in taxes.

“That's a considerable amount of money,” he said. “Honestly, I don't want to hear about this again. (It's) ridiculous that I've got to call my attorney to come with me because I'm not comfortable with whatever decision is going to be made here or not made, or if (Zoning Officer) Jeff Graydon comes knocking at my door. I don't want it.”

Although their opinions on the sign ordinance differ, Nikitiades pointed out that Moody does support Teddy's with his patronage.

Sitting next to Moody as she addressed the committee, Gil & Bert's Ice Cream owner Christine Ondocin said that Cranbury does not welcome businesses the way other towns do.

“This is a tough town to have a business in,” she said. “It's tough to be successful, and we're (coming up on) our 10-year mark.”

According to Ondocin, one of the least expensive ways to promote a business is to have an illuminated open sign.

“How many hits do the businesses have to take in order to keep their heads above water?” she said. “I don't understand where it's going to end. When the town is going to admit that having businesses downtown adds to our village and does not take away from our village.”

When Mayor David Cook opened the floor to committee members to comment, Deputy Mayor Glenn Johnson said that Cranbury “is not Williamsburg.”

“It's a living village, it has businesses that have to survive,” he said. “If we tie their hands too much, I think we could be impacting in a way that could change our downtown.”

Referring to Taylor's assertion that Moody was misinterpreting the spirit of the ordinance, Committeeman Susan Goetz suggested that additional work may be needed for clarification and said that revisiting the sign ordinance might be beneficial for all parties involved.

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at or and click here to support local news.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android - Click here for iOS .

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24

Black Diamond Billiard's, Union

Ladies 9-Ball Pro-Am by the Garden State Pool Tour

Other Sports

Sat, March 24, 8:30 AM

East Brunswick

Spinathon 2018


Sun, March 25, 3:00 PM

Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown

New Jersey Ballet's Hansel & Gretel

Arts & Entertainment

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

March 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

East Brunswick's Girl Scouts Work with a Young Woman's Busy Schedule

March 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Have you wanted to join a Girl Scout troop, but just don't have the time? Check out this out. Busy teens can be Independent Girl Scouts -- all the programs and awards without the scheduled troop meetings. Teen girls can do badge work, attend events, travel, earn awards or do community service on their own time. (And ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Middlesex County Young Republicans Host "Road to Victory" Event at the Green Turtle

March 21, 2018

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Middlesex County Young Republican Chairman John Steiner would like to announce the Middlesex County Young Republicans "Road to Victory" Reception, which will take place on March 22 at the Green Turtle in North Brunswick from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

This event will serve as the official launch for the 2018 campaign season for the Middlesex ...

Rep. Watson Coleman Urges Support for Students Participating in Protests: Letter to Local School Officials Asks for Encouragement Rather Than Punishment

EWING, NJ – Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) sent letters to principals and other school administrators in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District urging support and encouragement for students who engage in protests and demonstrations for gun violence prevention amid reports that some New Jersey schools had suspended or otherwise punished students for their ...

ECSNJ Partnership with Rutgers Behavioral Health Helps Students Manage Life’s Challenges

PISCATAWAY – A collaboration with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care is providing more behavioral and emotional support for students attending two Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ) schools.

Appearing on ESCNJ’s Better Together podcast, Assistant Superintendent Gary Molenaar said Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care “is a recognized ...