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Sign ban imposed, traffic study delayed

The Orchard Park Town Board issued a ban on digitally controlled electronic signs Wednesday and gave a red light to a study of traffic in the Quaker Crossing area, where Wal-Mart plans a supercenter.

The town's Public Safety Committee had requested the study because of concerns about heavy traffic voiced by area residents.

Board members said they would need more information about the scope and the cost of such a study.

"It seems to me we're a little precipitous in authorizing a traffic study," Councilwoman Nancy W. Ackerman said.

Councilman Mark C. Dietrick said Wal-Mart is required to perform a traffic study of its own, as part of its application for development.

Louis L. Boehm, a Lake Avenue resident, decried what he called traffic congestion from development in the area and said that a study would add little.

"This is like proposing a study in Clarence Center to decide if there was a plane crash," he said.

In petitions and newsletters, residents have called for a halt to further commercial development, he said, but the outcry has gone unheeded.

Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy, who has voiced concerns about plans for the Quaker Crossing plaza, was absent from Wednesday's meeting because of illness.

The board decided to table the request for a traffic study in order to talk with the Public Safety Committee and check on the analysis to be performed by Wal-Mart.

The town's ban on digitally controlled signs came as part of a lengthy revision of the town code stemming from a lawsuit over billboards. The town successfully defended its ban on billboards last year from a court challenge by Lamar Advertising.

After a public hearing at which no one spoke, the board passed the new sign ordinance, 4-0.

The ban targets computerized electronic signs, which have the ability to blink, scroll and flash.

Signs "can be lit," Building Inspector Andrew F. Geist said.

The prohibition is based on both traffic safety concerns and aesthetics, he said. Existing digital signs, of which there are about six, are grandfathered in, he added. Signs that aren't in sight of the street are exempt from the new law.

In another action, the board authorized paying $29,220.21 to the Town of West Seneca in back bills for sewer service. The neighboring town had provided service to a number of homes near the town line but failed to bill Orchard Park for about 10 years, Town Attorney Leonard Berkowitz said.

West Seneca had initially sought $32,000, officials there have said.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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