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The owner of Fit To Be Me is fit to be tied over the town's decision to begin enforcing a law that bans portable signs.

And she's not the only one.

Molly J. Hilger, owner of Fit To Be Me, a women's health and fitness center, said that a representative from Town Hall called her three weeks ago and told her to take her portable sign down.

"It really hurts our business. It's a great way to advertise," said Hilger. The place has been open for about a year. "Our plaza has 1,700 cars driving past it every day. You can't get that kind of advertising anywhere else."

Hilger and other town merchants are gathering signatures on a petition calling for the Town Board to reverse its decision regarding the signs.

Dave C. Weber is one of the most vocal opponents of a law banning portable signs in Lockport, and with good reason: He's the owner of Lockport Portable Signs.

Weber, who works a full-time construction job in addition to running his sign business, said enforcement of the law has cut into his profits there by about a third.

"It's a cost-effective way for the businessman to get his message out there, and they pulled the rug out from them and me, too," Weber said.

The signs had been permitted as long as they were out for no more than 30 days. Business proprietors had to obtain a permit from the town before they were allowed to put the sign out. The law was phased out Sept. 1.

Councilman David H. Knight said illegal portable signs were all over the town, even after the Sept. 1 date passed. Officials from the town's code enforcement office have given out 35 to 40 citations on the matter.

Violators of the law get a letter from the Building Department, and if the business owners don't comply by taking their illegal signs down, the fine is $250 per day.

"We counted about 19 of them on Transit Road about three months ago," Knight said. "There's just too many of them, and they're ugly and they're unsightly . . . and we're trying to clean up the town a little bit."

Lockport Town Councilwoman Karen S. Castle agreed that some business owners were abusing the purpose of a portable sign here.

"It's a constant sign. It isn't just a 30-day sign," she said.

Lockport is not alone in the sign battle. The Lewiston Village Board has outlawed portable signs.

Mayor Richard F. Soluri said that his trustees allow temporary signs for only a few days. "We try to be fair if somebody new opens . . . There was a while here when people start throwing up these sandwich boards, and it starts looking like a carnival."

Youngstown Mayor Neil C. Riordan likewise said such a law is on the books in his village but is not enforced. However, there is also a 10-foot-tall sign that lists all of the businesses in the village at Water and Lockport streets.

Knight said the move to clean up the town by eliminating or at least controlling the portable signs has helped.

"A lot of them are down. We noticed a big difference, on Transit Road especially," said Knight.

Knight said a committee is working on a new sign ordinance, which will be even more stringent. He said, though, that temporary signs will be permissible for special events but for no more than 30 days.

He said the committee is also looking to phase out billboards in the town.

"We're trying to make Transit Road more conducive to business and safer and less constricting," said Knight. He said a proposal to regulate a commercial corridor 1,000 feet back from the road will be on the table at the next regular meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in Town Hall, 6560 Dysinger Road.


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