In the News  Archive

Local biz to state: Sign off on signs!

Denton Pubs
November 16, 2014

By Pete DeMola

NORTH HUDSON — As the state lurches toward making revisions to the state land master plan, the document that dictates virtually all facets of life within the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Association of Towns and Villages have prepared a list of “common sense” recommendations for consideration.

Among them is a variance for signage for small businesses off the Northway, something that is currently prohibited.

North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore, the official who added the suggestion, said the only way visitors know of these businesses is a sign pointing them in the right direction.

“These visitors may be the difference in a small business surviving or not,” he said.

Officials also said there are few signs alerting tourists to major attractions, destination points like the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, two heavyweights whose economic impact ripples throughout the region.

Moore cited Exit 29 as a prime example.

“This may be the exit for these attractions, yet there are no signs on the Northway or at the exits when they get off,” he said.

The supervisor said he’d like to see an amendment that would allow standardized signs on the Northway and other main highways and state right of ways directing visitors to lodging, gas, food, local businesses, and tourist destinations.

Moore urged his colleagues at the Essex County Board of Supervisors to chime in with their input on Monday, Nov. 3.“We really need your support on this,” he told them.

Signage is an amalgamation of state Department of Transportation (DOT), state Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) policies.

Current APA regulations restrict signage in the park to five-by-eight feet.

Adirondack Council spokesperson John Sheehan said his organization agreed with the state law, which was originally passed in the 1930s to prohibit the proliferation of billboards within the park. But, said Sheehan, the Adirondack Council did work with the late Sen. Ronald Stafford on a plan to create to kiosks at the end of Northway exits in easements.

Doreen Ossenkop, co-owner of Adirondack Buffalo Company in North Hudson, has advocated for a change in policy for years.

She calls the policy “discriminatory.”

“We know the signage does help,” she said.

The Adirondack Buffalo Company used to have a sign, but it was yanked after an anonymous complaint. Since signage isn’t even allowed on contiguous property — which means businesses cannot buy neighboring property solely for advertising purposes — businesses say they have few options to pull in serendipitous visitors.

Social media is an option, she said. But with limited staff, it’s not always easy to keep updated.

She cited errant travelers who pulled off at Exit 29 to stretch their legs and grab a snack.

“People came up and found us intriguing,” she said. “We know for a fact that it has an impact on our business." Signage would allow the business to stay open through the winter, she said.

Ossenkop hailed state Sen. Betty Little and Assemblyman Dac Stec for their lobbying efforts in pushing for variances.

“A lot of businesses and people are affected by this,” she said. “It hurts everybody.”

Adirondack Local Review Board Chairman Fred Monroe said on a broader level, his organization’s top priority is to restore balance to the plan.

“There’s a clause in the state land master plan that we believe is inconsistent,” he said, citing the phrase “the protection and preservation of the natural resources of the state lands within the Adirondacks must be paramount.”

“That appears to reject balance,” he said. “We’d like to see that changed to incorporate the economy, that’s our biggest request.”

He called the group’s additional requests — items like maintaining scenic vistas, improving snowmobile trails, expanding mountain bike uses and the creation of low-impact ski touring trails — common sense solutions.

“Nobody’s promoting ATV trails all over and cutting trees down,” said Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Brian Towers. “These are changes to make life more livable. We need to bring back into focus that people live and work here. And if they’re going to survive, they need employment opportunities.”

New York State Association of Counties Chairman Randy Douglas agreed: “If we want an economic boost, we need signs to promote what we have.”

Sen. Little, through a spokesperson, she'd like to see the state land master plan revision reflect a few critical points. Not everyone has the ability to hike great distances. Amending the state land master plan to ensure those with disabilities, or older visitors and residents who enjoy the outdoors but have limited mobility, should be a priority, she said.

The master plan should take into account the increase in off-road cycling, said the spokesman, Daniel MacEntee. Existing logging roads should be maintained for this purpose.

Third, said MacEntee, she'd like the state to recognize the importance of the need for sustainable Adirondack communities.

"More commerce is needed to support local businesses, increase revenue and ensure Adirondack communities can offer the types of services for a year-round population," he said. "A broad range of recreational access to attract tourists with many different interests is very important."

Conversations among various stakeholders have been open and productive on environmental and economic issues the past few years, he said. "She's hopeful that positive dialogue will continue as we move forward."

The current review process marks the first revision in 27 years.

Two hearings remain: the first is on Monday, Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at NYS DEC Headquarters in Albany and the next is Tuesday, Nov. 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town of Webb Union Free School District in Old Forge.

Written comments will be accepted until Dec. 5 at SLMP_Comment@apa.ny.go

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