23 June 2008


John Sala, owner of Hillsborough Landscape & Supply on Route 206 accepted a plea deal earlier this month, avoiding a trial over sign violations - where a guilty verdict might have brought a $125,000 penalty - and that's nothing to laugh about it. The plea arrangement will enable Sala to pay a reduced fine of $2500 for being in violation of Hillsborough's sign ordinance regarding temporary signs. Businesses can only put up temporary signs on their property for a limited amount of time - typically while they are waiting to have a permanent sign installed. Sala had his signs - one advertising that he sold propane, the other, firewood - up for a longer period than is allowed.

Sala initially fought the township - leaving his signs in place because he saw other similar signs around town, and believing that he was a victim of selective enforcement.

As the owner of the business, and the person who controls the property his business is on, Sala was at least able to deal directly with the Hillsborough Township officials regarding his signs. There are many small business owners and professionals in town who lease their storefronts and offices, and who have to deal with landlords and property managers regarding signs and sign regulations - some of which are more strict than Hillsborough Township ordinances.

I have a friend who is a professional in town with an office located in a newer mixed-use retail/professional plaza. He has been rebuffed on many occasions by the property managers who refuse to allow his business name be put on the prominent directory sign at a major intersection, instead relegating him to an inferior directory located away from traffic.

The strange thing is, the landlord is telling him that it is the Hillsborough Township sign ordinance that prohibits his advertising on a decent sign! Now THAT'S laughable!

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