It seemed like a good idea at the time: Le Roy resident John Garner happened to own an old DOT variable message sign, so he offered it as a promotional device to the organizations and businesses of the village.
We reported on the sign in January. The sign was placed on Route 19 and promoted local businesses and community events.
Just as spring started to get sprung, the sign disappeared.
Yesterday, Ann Walters, owner of the Hobby Horse on Main Street, told me the Department of Transportation asked that it be removed.
"What a marketing technique," said, Walters, who regrets seeing the sign disappear. "I wish I could say I thought of it."
She said it did help bring business into the village.
Walters impression was that the DOT didn't like one of their signs being used to advertise businesses, and there were concerns about it being a distraction, that the sign should be used only for its intended purpose, which is providing traffic information for drivers.
"How can you control use of a sign when you sell it?" Walters asked. "If you want to control it, you don't sell it."
Garner couldn't be reached for comment (Walters identified Garner as the owner of the sign).
DOT regional spokesman Lori Maher said there's an explanation -- not necessarily simple, but an explanation nonetheless -- for the DOT's position.
The state controls the right-of-way on state routes, which is
66 33 feet (66 total) on either side of the center line (though there are numerous exceptions and variables, so that measurement may not apply on this section of Route 19). There are also strict regulations dealing with commercial sites in visual range of a state road.
Even if the sign was outside of the right-of-way, Maher said, it would still violate sign advertising rules.
"The whole purpose (of these regulations) is to restrict the proliferation of signs containing all kinds of messages, which becomes clutter and a safety issue," Maher said.
The rules are both state and federal and have their roots in the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, she said.
For more information on the NYS sign policy, click here.