WEST NEW YORK -- Mayor Felix Roque and the West New York Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance at a public meeting Wednesday night that, if passed at a Feb. 20 hearing, would effectively ban all signs, flags and posters that have not been granted a permit by the town.
The ordinance lists 19 types of signs that would be prohibited under the ordinance.
Among the types of signs that would be banned are “flashing, moving, animated, digital, or fluttering signs and signs that emit smoke, visible vapors or particles, sound or odor,” and “window or door signs that exceed 15% of the glass area.”
The ordinance would also ban “flags, banners and pennants.”
The ordinance does not outline any specific reasoning behind its introduction other than that it was deemed necessary by the Board of Commissioners and is “beneficial to the public welfare.”
Residents for a Better West New York founder Frank Ferreiro said that the ordinance is clearly aimed at the mayor’s political opponents, namely Ferreiro himself, who uses his TV on Wheels business to broadcast anti-Roque material.
“[The Board of Commissioners] have effectively violated the freedom of speech and expression that every single resident and business owner is granted and protected under the laws of the Constitution,” said a press release issued by Residents for a Better West New York.
A spokesman for Roque, Pablo Fonseca, said that the ordinance was written with nothing but residents’ well-being in mind.
“The intent and goal of this ordinance is to provide the residents of West New York with a good quality of life, and to prevent a nuisance or a danger to residents. We can’t have the city surrounded by all these billboards.”
Fonseca denied that the ordinance had anything to do with Ferreiro.
“The Mayor is not concerned with politics, he’s concerned with governing,” he said.
The ordinance was introduced by a margin of 4 votes to 1, with Commissioner Count Wiley, himself an opponent of Roque, warning that the ordinance carries major potential consequences as it might infringe upon a citizen’s rights under the First Amendment.
The ordinance can be viewed at http://www.westnewyorknj.org/web_content/pdf/proposed/ord213.pdf.
Look for a full story on the ordinance in next week’s West New York Reporter. – Dean DeChiaro