Friday, May 07, 2010

Sign Ordinance in the Works

Lengthy changes to the city's sign ordinance will be up for a vote on first reading at Monday's City Council meeting.

The meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

For the moment, Plaintalker will mention one of the changes. This has to deal with flashing signs of the kind that are popping up in store windows. I was trying to think up the right words to describe them, but the proposed new rules spell it out: "No sign shall contain blinking, flashing, flickering, tracer or sequential lighting," and also prohibited are "signs with lights or illuminations which flash, move, rotate, scintillate, blink, flicker, vary in color or use intermittent electrical pulsation."

One such sign is close to City Hall at the Magic Carpet driving school on Watchung Avenue and there are many more downtown.

A quick search online revealed that many municipalities across the nation are concerned about such signs and some have banned installation of new ones.

Merchants purchase the signs and vendors program them to the customer's liking. They certainly do attract attention, but the question is whether they are in keeping with the city's vision for its business districts.

The ordinance, MC 2010-16, has many more additions to sign regulations, affecting apartment buildings, business and professional offices and more. Copies of the full ordinance may be obtained at the City Clerk's office in City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave. If passed on Monday, the ordinance will be up for second reading and final passage in June.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Randy Schaeffer said...


I'm sorry but this strikes me as a bit absurd. I find signs with "blinking, flashing, flickering, tracer or sequential lighting," which have "lights or illuminations which flash, move, rotate, scintillate, blink, flicker, vary in color or use intermittent electrical pulsation" to be MUCH more attractive than boarded up store fronts.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Good point, Randy. I bring this type of information forward so people can state their views.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Randy. In comparison with Cranford's downtown. It is clean and organized. While our downtown seems to be part of a circus, where every store have no idea how to design their front entrance, which should be the first attraction for customers. I think this ordinance is needed, but it needs a more effective description of what should allowed by businesses.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have much of an opinion regarding the blinking signs other than if it's good enough for Times Square it should be good enough for us, but this ordinance shouldn't give the impression that the city is being proactive regarding downtown. It's not. It's easy to pass a law that forbids something, especially something without much of a constituency, rather than tackling problems that require positive, long term action.

To add to Randy's comment, has anyone bother to ask the merchants who use the signs whether they work to increase traffic to their stores? I suspect not. I suspect it's simply a kneejerk "beautification" idea. But perhaps I'm wrong. I'll wait for the official press release from the administration explaining their reasoning.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know Bernice, these tacky signs are in line with the city's vision for its business districts...what better way to announce pool halls, bail bonds, tatoo parlors and let us not forget, the ubiquitous dollar stores!! Seems to me the blinking, flashing, rotating signs have got it just right!!

10:24 AM  
Blogger Randy Schaeffer said...

I would hope that the City would be more concerned with the effective enforcement of ordinances that protect health and safety and at the same time are supportive of our local businesses.

11:09 AM  
Blogger robert.bolmer said...

The signs in Planfield are a problem, but what about the noise when you walk or drive past some of these shops. I've quit shopping down town as I can't stand the noise blasting, and I mean blasting, from the speakers outside these shops. Doesn't Plainfield already have laws on the books against such noise. If they want to put the speakers inside their shops and blast the music with the doors closed, I don't mind. I can't hear my friend when we're walking and talking on Front Street. Let's put a little class into a shopping area that has become the essence of no-class.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Zoning and enforcement...on both...Plainfield lacks vision and the spine to enforce it.
( Gaping hole in North Avenue Block as the prime example )
They should save the oxygen it takes to pass the ordinance and the paper it's written on since the city can't or won't enforce the laws already on the books..

1:11 PM  
Blogger Randy Schaeffer said...


Perhaos, rather than trying to impose the aesthetic of Cranford or Westfield on our downtown, we might instead want to celebrate the vibrancy and energy our community offers.

Health and safety are important to the success of our downtown merchants. That's where the city should concentrate its increasingly limited resources.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds Like censorship I guess we now live in a Dictatorship bunch of Commies

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all of us business owners buy as many neon flashing scrolling twinkling glittering signs as possible and put them in our windows on our stores. As a business owner downton need these signs to attracted business because the City is not doing anything to help us crime running rampid parking lots are a disgrace the street lights don't work who wants to come and shop here.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its censorship

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the President of the Plainfield Special Improvement District I received no communication of any kind in regards to this ordinance.
In regard to the aforementioned music problem downtown we were contacted by the administration. When we requested and received the written ordinance we took immediate action in cooperation with the police department to inform the offending entities.
It’s unfortunate that the same cooperation could not be shown in discussing this policy that will impact such a broad range of signage that business use to attract customers.
Nimrod Webb
PSID President

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you don't want to tackle the real problems in this town you tackle the ones that you can just pass resolutions with reckless abandon. Council needs to make meaningful resolutions while the administration needs to enforce.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plainfield has no vision for its business district. There is nothing downtown but bodegas, Spanish restaurants and cheap clothing stores...oh yes, check cashing and bail bonds.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Randy Schaeffer said...

To 12:14 --

So what is wrong with a downtown area that services the members of our community who regularly shop there? Isnt that what downtowns are for.

Or are you saying something else?

Again - matters of health and safety are what the city should be focusing on. Obviously there's a lot that needs to be done.

But you are right -- sadly, Plainfield doesnt have a vision for the business district. But if it did, why shouldnt Plainfield's vision include bodegas, Spanish restaurants, affordable clothing stores, etc.?

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we in Vegas or in Plainfield? Wouldn't mind Plainfield being Vegas if we can get the ratables.

As to the SID President, isn't it your responsibility to know the zoning ordinances? Don't the other stores look to you for leadership and shouldn't you be part of the authority leadership along with City Hall?

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didnt post my reply again. This is the 3rd time now. It was to the point and not inappropriate in any way. Hmmm.....

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Randy,

The key word is include. There are many additional people in Plainfield who would like shops that are a bit more upscale which include restaurants, clothing stores, garden shops jazz clubs, and upscale spas. Those shops should be able to integrate with those stores you cited.

1:47 PM  

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