LITTLE VALLEY – The proposed extension of a scenic byway into Cattaraugus County has hit a speed bump because of a restriction on signs.
The County Legislature voted, 15-6, last week to send the plan for a scenic designation to its Agriculture and Development Committee for further study after questions surfaced about restrictions on signs, which would restrict billboards, along the route.
Robert J. Lennartz, president of the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway Trail, addressed the Legislature before a vote on the resolution to extend the byway from Springville into Ellicottville and beyond.
Envisioned is a 70-mile route connecting Orchard Park, East Aurora, Springville and the Ellicottville area by 2015, according to Lennartz.
The scenic byway – one of 26 in the state and the only one in Western New York – currently features 14 signs that tell a bit about the area and point visitors to scenic areas.
As of now, the scenic byway extends south only to Route 39 in Springville. Proposed is an extension along Route 219 south to Route 98 in Great Valley, and on 240 south to Route 242 through West Valley.
During last week’s meeting, Lennartz was accompanied by Brian McFadden, executive director of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce.
Legislators William Sprague, D-Yorkshire, and Dan Hale, R-Portville, called for more information on the sign restrictions.
“I disagree with the restrictions on signage,” Hale said. “I do not agree with something that is restricting and selecting businesses on the signs, making them all look the same. In a business like advertising, to have a sign the same size and look as others is not smart.”
Sprague agreed, saying the county should “try to attract businesses, not deter them.”
“A business without signs is a sign of no business,” he said.
Lennartz said the restriction “is against additional billboards and off-premises signs.”
“The signage is consistent in a manner that they all look alike, similar to the signs you see on the expressway,” he said. “No businesses are advertised on our signs. They are to draw travelers to interesting points along their way.”
The issue will be discussed during future committee meetings, according to Legislator Norman Marsh, R-Little Valley.
Lennartz, meanwhile, believes that the new section of the trail in the county can be completed by the end of the year.
“We should be able to get this done,” he said. “The key to this whole thing has been the cooperation we have gotten from the Cattaraugus County communities in getting resolutions right away. I think everyone involved on the Cattaraugus County side has a can-do attitude.”
Lennartz also noted that he has received several calls about car tours, bus tours and motorcycle runs along the route – a strong indication of financial and tourism benefits to come.