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November 13, 2009

TOWN OF LOCKPORT: Video sign issue is back in court

A state Supreme Court justice on Thursday turned back the town’s request for an injunction to stop a business owner from operating the video feature on his electronic sign.

Two cases involving the sign are before the court: the town’s suit to stop David Mongielo from operating an LED sign in a manner the town says is illegal, and Mongielo’s countersuit seeking an order that the zoning board give him another variance hearing.

Justice Richard Kloch Sr. refused to decide either case, pending a finding by the

Lockport town court on whether Mongielo violated town law by using the sign to display moving images this past winter.

“If the town court says there’s no violation, there’s nothing for me to do,” Kloch told Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman.

Seaman argued that Supreme Court has the power to step in ahead of the local court, and anything it determines would trump the town court’s findings.

“Local rule,” Kloch lectured. “I’m a judicial conservative.”

Kloch also postponed a decision on Mongielo’s request — for a judicial order directing the zoning board to give him an area variance hearing — until after the town prosecutes its zoning case against him.

Mongielo previously was denied a use variance, which would make his video sign exempt from display restrictions in the local zoning code. His attorney, Jeffery Palumbo, says the zoning board improperly treated the request as an application for a use variance, when it should have weighed the case for an area variance.

Mongielo is due in town court Tuesday to answer six charges that he violated the section of the zoning ordinance that says the message on an electronic sign may not change more than once every 10 minutes.

Building Inspector Brian Belson alleged Mongielo broke the law six times between Dec. 20, 2008, and April 1 by displaying streaming or rapidly changing messages on his business sign board.

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