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Owner of Oliver's continues push for change in sign law

By Howard B. Owens

Jeremy Liles said he will continue to push for a rules change in the City of Batavia on commercial signs that prohibit electronic signs from regularly changing their messages.

Earlier this year, Liles installed a new sign on his business, Oliver's Candies, at Main and Oak with an electronic message board.

Under the current city ordinance, he can only change the message on the board once every 24 hours. He would like to change it hourly, especially this time of year when he might have four or five different promotions going to attract holiday business.

Tuesday night the city's planning board unanimously rejected his request for a variance to allow the message to change at least hourly.

Duane Preston, chairman of the board, said his vote was based on the fact there is no precedent in the city for allowing an exemption.

Liles argued that signs at Salvation Army and Batavia High School change more often than every 24 hours, but Preston said the city's code enforcement officers report that no permission has been granted for such changes where the city has jurisdiction. He doesn't have jurisdiction over the school property, he said.

Liles said the inconsistency bothers him.

He vowed to continue the fight after the vote, including bringing it up during the city's comprehensive plan update.

One apparent argument against frequently changing signs is that it creates a traffic hazard. Liles said he doesn't buy that argument. Distracted driving from mobile phones is a bigger problem than business signs, he said.

"There were two accidents in front of Oliver's this morning and that had nothing to do with my sign," he said.

George Richardson

Dwayne Preston, chairman of the board, said his vote was based on the fact there is no precedent in the city for allowing an exemption.

Duane's great grandpa said: A horseless carriage? Balderdash, I've never heard of such a thing. No I won't invest $500 for half interest in Henry Ford's folly.

Nov 18, 2015, 12:16pm Permalink
Joseph Guza

I wanted to comment on this, but George Richardson's comment captures the essence of this absurd situation. Fantastic comment George - I'm still chuckling over it!

Nov 19, 2015, 10:25am Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

The City of Batavia has far too restrictive sign codes. Main Street is for business. Signs should be allowed that match the entire frontage of a business. If we can't see what kind of business is operating, how can we do business there? An hourly changing sign is not going to be a concern for distraction. A variance to allow the hourly changes is in order here and an update to the City Code should follow.

Nov 20, 2015, 7:15pm Permalink
Lori Silvernail

I remember there used to be a number of banks that had clock and temperature signs. Those darned things caused accidents every 60 seconds when the time changed, right? Let's stop being so archaic around here, Oliver's sign is beautiful and I'd like to see fresh candy pictures changing while I'm sitting at Oak and Main at the light. I have nothing better to do while I wait 3 minutes for the traffic signal to change...

Nov 21, 2015, 7:29am Permalink
Beth Kinsley

Here is the Code:

Under 190-3 Definitions:

(2) COPY - CHANGE SIGN — A sign on which the visual message may be periodically changed.

Under 190-43 Signs:,sign#8979746

F. Permitted signs. All signs shall be allowed that comply with the provisions and conditions set forth in the Chart incorporated and made a part hereof by reference as EXHIBIT A and/or the other provisions of this Section, and all signs not so compliant are specifically prohibited.

Exhibit A –… sign

Exhibit A listing "Permitted Signs: does not mention a “COPY” or “CHANGE SIGN” so I guess this is not a permitted use.

I also found this which would be funny if it wasn't so ridiculous:

Business signs. Any sign that advertises a place of business shall have no more than 25% of its copy advertise a product that may be purchased within the premises.

So - I hope Mr. Liles doesn't use more than 25% of his sign to advertise his Peppermint Bark.

Nov 21, 2015, 1:41pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Got it. Thanks!
You're right, BA. There's some pretty crazy stuff in there.
Sort of like the old laws, all around the country, that are still on the books.

Nov 21, 2015, 3:43pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

And, as far as Jeremy's sign only being able to (legally) change once every 24-hours, just do a 'workaround'.

It'd take some planning, but, with today's computerization, shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Create a single, 24-hour long message, but, have it timed to appear as if it were changing every hour. Any 8th-grader (worth his salt) with a computer should be able to show you how to do that.

C'mon. Use the ol' noggin!

Nov 21, 2015, 3:56pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Ha-Ha! Couldn't help but laugh when I saw the 'down-votes' my last comment elicited.

As usual, few care to explain their (disagreement?) with someone's opinion. So, I'll just use my imagination on why someone would vote down.

Let's see. I guess there might be many reasons for it, but, I'm thinking it's a toss-up of the voters being either (a) a couple of knuckle-draggers that don't like technology/innovation, or, (b) members of the city-hierarchy that don't appreciate someone figuring out how to get around their perceived authority.

I'm leaning towards "knuckle-draggers". But, only because I doubt whether the people in city gov't were capable of understanding my suggestion.

Nov 21, 2015, 5:33pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove


In case your knuckles get sore, I think Tractor Supply still carries Bag Balm.


Nov 21, 2015, 7:52pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

The part of the code regarding signage hasn't been changed since 2001 and probably needs to be updated to reflect technological advancement, especially in regards to electronic signage. I find that part of the code to be very bizarre and intrusive to begin with. We need to start relaxing our zoning laws all over the country in favor of an attitude that favors creativity over a NIMBY style rigidity. There's evidence to say that overly strict efforts to regulate property on a local level has contributed to the decline of the American middle class in a way that prevented a transition after the economy shifted to being more tech based. Codes should prevent dilapidation, not be obstructive to preserve the state of a neighborhood as certain people want to remember it.…

Nov 22, 2015, 9:50am Permalink
Daniel Jones

Relaxing zoning laws would also be more likely to make efforts like historic preservation easier. Property owners and tenants could make necessary repairs and alterations, like fences, without being bullied by busybody zoning boards.

Nov 22, 2015, 10:05am Permalink

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