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Small businesses claim to be targeted by 'antiquated' signage laws

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CITY ISLAND -

Owners of small businesses say they're being unfairly treated by what Councilman Mark Gjonaj calls "antiquated" signage laws.

Richard DiPiro, a City Island restaurant owner, says the city forced him in September to remove the restaurant's sign that had been up since 1961.

The sign came down after a complaint was filed with the Department of Buildings, who says any commercial sign over 6 feet tall must have a permit.

DiPiro's restaurant, Black Whale, did not have a permit.

He says the community was able to rally and get the sign back up the same day it was taken down.

Gjonaj says the issue lies in the city's current signage laws, which prevents signs from having more than 12 square footage of printing.

He says he's introduced a new bill that would put an immediate stop on enforcement of the current law. It would also create a task force to determine current needs of signage requirements and reimbursements for businesses for any violation costs spent within the last year.

Skip Giacco, the president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce, says he appreciates the new bill – which is headed to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Gjonaj says no fines will be issued until the city comes up with updated signage laws.

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