Signs pollute Island

To the Editor:

With regard to Don Bindler’s letter in the Shelter Island Reporter [January 7], I cannot agree more. Don is associated with an independent office located on North Ferry Road, total exposure that there is a real estate office to stop at to inquire about real estate! Signs of any kind are a blight on the landscape, take a ride through the Hamptons and the North Fork. 

That said, I am appealing to the Town Board of Shelter Island to take a careful look at our sign legislation that they are about to revise.

It seems to me that anyone interested in real estate in any area will go to a local real estate office or pick up a local newspaper and see what is advertised. If there are no signs displayed on properties for sale or rent all the more reason to go to a real estate office and inquire. Since there are 10 offices on Shelter Island and over 100 licensed agents, it is not difficult to find out what is for sale or for rent. 

At the present time, there are several “for sale by owner” signs, some the black and orange, some homemade and some with their broker’s number on them. They are not the least bit attractive. But then that is only my opinion.

For years we have had our lovely little black and white post signs, according to town specifications, indicating directions to our beaches and different communities. Along came the state and the DOT put up their ugly green and white signs, not to town code but state code, along North and South Ferry roads. The big guys arrived, ahhhhhh! Big government!

So here we are on beautiful Shelter Island with a sign issue; the builders want signs, the plumbers, the architects and the new big real estate guy wants signs. Seems to me with the builders, one can ask any contractor on the site who is building the house and they will tell them. Granted some of the signs the builders use are quite attractive. 

If you need a plumber it is generally an emergency and the phone book helps or the police department. 

Just think, if every one of the 10 real estate offices on Shelter Island were allowed to advertise all of their listings with signs, there would be over 200 ugly signs of various sizes, shapes and colors. Then we have rentals as well, over 300 of them. 

So board members, let’s get a grip, only two signs per office. And of course a real estate broker cannot put a sign on a property without the owner’s permission. Sellers, think about how that ugly real estate sign distracts from the beauty of your property.

It is obvious that the “big guys” have arrived when our local newspaper, the Shelter Island Reporter, had six full-page ads over the holidays and the independent brokers had their little happy holiday greetings, while some chose to respect the holiday and not advertise until after the first of the year. It would just be marvelous if we could all be on the same playing field. Hard for the little guy to compete with the franchises.

Isn’t it interesting, on our wonderful little Island, we have two post offices, two gas stations, two doctors, two dentists, two delis, two liquor stores, two firehouses, two hardware stores, and now two real estate entities, the big guys and the independents. One positive note about that is that we have a “choice,” one of my favorite “c” words, along with common courtesy, common sense, cope, charm etc., etc., and it is with chagrin that I even have to write this letter.

Town Board, please be kind to the little people, they are what make Shelter Island what it is — a conservative independent little town that cares for its own in a way that is the envy of the rest of the world. Let’s keep it that way. Remember more people buy Coke than champagne!

We have many issues to deal with: land preservation, protecting our aquifer, tick-related business, rising taxes, affordable housing, the list goes on. Signage should not be at the top of the list. Just obey the law and get on with it.