Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is seeking executive order from Supervisor Yvette Aguiar to allow the town to temporarily waive sign and banner permits and fees for local restaurants advertising takeout availability and hours.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week issued statewide orders to force gyms and movie theaters to close and for restaurants to only serve takeout or delivery orders. The state’s order comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Giglio said her proposal aims to help local restaurants, which could be hurt by the state’s action.
“Our businesses in town are struggling to stay afloat,” she said in an interview. “So, it’s important that they be able to put out whatever signs or anything it takes to be able to advertise that they offer takeout.”
Current town regulations prohibit temporary signs unless it’s for a grand opening, and the Town Code also prohibits banners.
The process of getting a sign requires approval from the architectural review board, and it limits what can be on those signs, such as phone numbers or web addresses.
“So I’m saying let’s waive the sign ordinance temporarily until this crisis is over so that businesses are able to advertise their businesses and stay afloat during this temporary recession,” Ms. Giglio said.
Ms. Aguiar briefly responded to Mr. Giglio’s request by email, saying that this was the first she had heard of the proposal.
“Please call me so we can discuss this before any action is taken,” the supervisor said by email.
Ms. Giglio wrote back that “a temporary suspension of the sign ordinance is an initiative I would like to move forward with and would hope the Town Board could support it.
“I’ve heard from several business owners in town who are deciding to shut their doors or to offer alternative services, such as takeout, to survive and keep their people working. We must support our small business,” Ms. Giglio wrote.
Ms. Aguiar subsequently responded by another email, saying, “this is fine and I have a few recommendations to add. Please before you direct an executive order on my behalf, consult me.”
Councilman Tim Hubbard called Ms. Giglio’s proposal an “excellent idea” and said he would support it.
Ms. Giglio said by interview that the cutting back on service by restaurants is also hurting local farms, which often sell their produce to local restaurants.
The Town Board doesn’t have any meetings scheduled this week because of the coronavirus, and Town Hall is currently closed to the public.
The Riverhead Business Improvement District sent out a release saying “the effects of COVID-19 are unsettling, and our thoughts are with those who are affected by the virus and the uncertainty surrounding it. As this continues to affect our downtown, the Riverhead BID is committed to keeping our local community running and safe.”
The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce also issued a release, urging residents to eat at local restaurants and patronize other local businesses.
“As local restaurants and businesses adjust to the COVID-19 regulations, a few have halted service while many are still open for business,” it read.