By Joe Olenick
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
TOWN OF LOCKPORT —
A decision will be reached Aug. 24 concerning an auto repair shop owner’s alleged violations of a Town of Lockport sign ordinance.
Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling said Wednesday he will rule on whether David J. Mongielo violated town law with an electronic sign that can play video and changes displays within seconds. The town ordinance says a sign cannot change a display more than once every 10 minutes.
Schilling released a written decision July 8 that stated Mongielo would stand trial and that the town’s law did not violate the First Amendment.
Mongielo did not express much hope when asked if he thinks he’ll be convicted.
“Definitely,” Mongielo said.
Mongielo faces six counts of violating the town sign ordinance, three each against him personally and his business, Mongielo’s Auto Specialties on Robinson Road. Each count could carry a fine of up to $350.
Town Building Inspector Brian Belson was called as a witness Wednesday. Belson cited Mongielo on three separate dates last year, Feb. 2, March 28 and April 11, 2009. With Belson on the stand, town prosecutor Bradley Marble presented a series of photos with different images and messages on the sign.
Frank LoTempio, Mongielo’s attorney, questioned the validity of the photos, pointing out that there was no official way of knowing when they were taken. The time he started taking pictures was recorded on paper by Belson before he took the pictures, which he testified to.
Belson took a few pictures for each of the three dates he cited Mongielo. LoTempio objected for each picture, but was overruled by Schilling.
“They cannot fairly depict what was on that sign,” LoTempio said.
Belson said he didn’t have to record the exact time each picture was taken, as the sign changed after just a few seconds.
Mongielo moved his business to Robinson Road from Pendleton in 2008. In July of that year, he applied for a permit for the sign that mentioned the town ordinance in the paperwork.
Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.