Town of North Salem sets date for public hearing on proposed new signage, landscaping and lighting laws
The Town of North Salem set Tuesday, September 13 as the date when residents and business owners can publicly share their input on proposed amended local laws around signage, landscaping and lighting.
In July, the Planning Board released draft documents that outlined new restrictions arounds things like holiday lights, commercial signage and landscaping for large-scale projects.
Many residents expressed outrage on social media about the proposed changes, particularly when it came to holiday lights. The draft document on lighting proposed that decorative holiday lights be up for a “reasonable period” of no more than 30 consecutive days.
In a phone call with the North Salem Post Tuesday, Town Supervisor Warren Lucas acknowledged that the 30-day period was too restrictive. “Some of the things the Planning Board has in there, like the 30-day period, will end up being 90 days, or 100 days. It comes down to being reasonable,” Lucas said. He added that board members had already informally agreed to adjust that specific amendment when it comes time to formalize the updated lighting laws.
Lucas said that he has received at least ten phone calls from residents unhappy with the proposed legislation. “The 30-day thing for Christmas, that could be 180 days, I don't really care,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with this legislation is address a few problems, not a lot of problems.”
The few problems Lucas alluded to are a very small number of ongoing neighbor-to-neighbor disputes over lighting. Things such as bright floodlights that are on for upwards of 12 consecutive hours, shining directly into a neighbor’s home, for example.
Presently, there is no formal law that restricts such activity, which means the Town has no authority to intervene when residents call with complaints. “We’re trying to get some control so that the building inspector can go in and say, ‘hey guys, you gotta fix this,’” Lucas said.
Regarding proposed new landscaping rules, Lucas said that changes such as requiring plans from a licensed landscape architect will not apply to all property owners, but rather be limited to developers or commercial businesses.
“If you're taking 300 acres and chopping it up into subplots, that requires you to have a landscaping plan or a wetlands plan,” Lucas said, adding that the same would be true for a local business, such as a restaurant. “It doesn’t apply to anybody else in town,” he said.
Still, residents are wary about being told what they can or can’t do on their own property. “Nobody better come for my holiday lights,” one resident posted on Instagram last week.
Lucas said he’s encouraged by the community engagement. “The nice thing about having something that got people pretty stirred up is that we get a lot of good input,” Lucas said, adding that he invites community members to voice their opinions and to attend the public meeting on September 13.