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VIRTUOSO WANTS LAW TO LIMIT POLITICAL SIGNS

The County Legislature will be asked Tuesday to have staffers draft an ordinance limiting political signs to home or business windows and the property of political headquarters.

Sponsored by Legislator Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, the measure would assign the task of drawing up such a law to the Planning, Development and Tourism Department.

"I'm not asking to eliminate them," Virtuoso said. "We're not taking away anybody's constitutional rights. We're trying to limit them to windows or the side of a house."

His resolution calls campaign signs along roads and in yards "a visual nuisance." Virtuoso said that the seasonal blizzard of signs in such municipalities as Niagara Falls and Wheatfield cannot be attractive to tourists.

"Most of us (politicians) don't like these signs," Virtuoso said. "They're a hardship. You have to ask people to put them up. They're an expense item, and a lot of them are poorly maintained." He said candidates erect them only "because the competition does."

He said he envisions the Legislature passing a model ordinance for municipalities, as it did with its communication tower law last year.

Also Tuesday, the Legislature will be asked for a sixth extension on a loan granted to the county Industrial Development Agency in 1992.

The money was used to construct a multiple-tenant building on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield, which includes the agency's offices.

The original $1.2 million loan at 3 percent interest was supposed to be repaid by the end of 1993. But after repeated extensions, $950,000 of the principal remains outstanding.

The interest rate is now 5.5 percent, County Treasurer David S. Broderick said. It is altered quarterly based on the rate the county is earning on its certificates of deposit. The agency's most recent quarterly interest payment, for the three months ending Sept. 30, was $13,062.50, Broderick reported.

The agency has said it will pay off the loan in full once it completes a land swap with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which would give the agency clear title to the Wheatfield land.

It will make the payment by taking out a $950,000 mortgage with the state Job Development Authority and the Niagara Economic Development Fund, controlled by the State Power Authority.

The $950,000 payment to the agency would be relayed to the county, which is supposed to lend $550,000 of it back to the agency to be relayed to Kiwi International Air Lines. The airline is seeking the loan to subsidize passenger air service planned for Niagara Falls International Airport.

Tuesday's session will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a public hearing on a 50 percent increase in the veterans' property-tax exemption, sponsored by Legislator John S. Tylec, D-North Tonawanda. Legislators are scheduled to vote on the change during their regular session, scheduled for 8 p.m.

The agenda also includes:

Scheduling a public hearing Nov. 5 on a $4.96 million sewer district project, including improvements at the main sewage treatment plant in Wheatfield and at two pump stations.

Using a $20,000 state grant to have the consulting firm Hyjek & Fix work out a strategy for preventing the Base Realignment and Closure Commission from again recommending the shutdown of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.

Conveying $503,317 in additional state mental health aid to four not-for-profit agencies serving the Mental Health Department's clients.

Appropriating $200,000 to pay for cleaning the water district's sludge lagoon; $32,000 for redecorating the lobby and some resident rooms in Mount View Health Facility, the county-owned nursing home; and $27,729.94 for a new roof on the Oppenheim Park Shelter Building.

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