Editorial: Commandeering sign is bad form on URT’s part

This editorial is not a statement about what should or shouldn’t be built at the United Riverhead Terminal property on Sound Shore Road in Northville. It’s not an editorial about conforming uses, non-conforming uses or variances.

It’s an editorial about respecting your neighbors’ views, regardless of what they are, and disagreeing respectfully. 

What’s unclear at this point is who, exactly, owns the sign directly across from URT on Sound Shore Road. The Northville Beach Civic Association has used the sign as a community bulletin board for the past two-plus decades. The civic says URT gave it to them; URT says it never did.

What is clear is that URT’s decision — a response to community opposition to its proposed expansion — to claim ownership of the sign and start posting what could be perceived as propaganda is spiteful, mean-spirited and very unnecessary. Apparently, instead of using the sign to recognize local scholarship recipients and direct people to the civic group’s website, it’s more important to broadcast how much the oil company pays Riverhead Town in taxes.

Even if the sign does belong to URT, why not just leave it blank? Or, if the company wants to tout how much it pays in taxes, perhaps it should also note that in Mid-March the Town Board voted to pay outsiders up to $5,000 because “the Riverhead Town Assessors have been named defendants in various actions commenced by United Riverhead Terminal, Inc.”

The point is, while the terminal does offer what many would consider benefits to the town and its residents, there are two sides to every story. And just because the local civic group doesn’t agree with URT’s version, that doesn’t justify the company’s takeover of a sign that’s long been considered the civic’s message board.

It’s no wonder oil companies have the reputation they do.