Signs of Life for
Michael Brendan Dougherty
Putnam County Courier
Developer Paul Camarda returned to the Southeast
Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, having cut down
signage plans for his massive Stateline Retail Center.
But his revisions may not have mattered. With all
ZBA members in attendance, Camarda was granted the
27 sign variances by a margin of 4-3. His trimming
convinced none of the previous “Nay” votes
Last month, Camarda appeared before the ZBA, asking
for 30 variances for signs on his proposed project
on Route 6. The board engaged in a vigorous debate
about its role, whether it was appropriate to grant
so many variances for one project, or whether the
Town Code needed to be revised. Southeast zoning
currently allows only for signs 2 feet by 10 feet,
and, as board member Vink reminded his fellow members, “The
code does not anticipate large commercial retail
development at all.” The board came to a deadlock
in February, with three votes approving the variances,
and three against, with one absence.
“As promised, I took the razor to the plans,” said
Camarda. Two signs were cut altogether, two others
were reduced to meet the current Town Code, and others
were nominally reduced. In total, Camarda still asked
for 27 sign variances, and argued that he needed
potential tenants to understand that the town was
welcoming then. He also discussed at length his attempts
to make the design as unobtrusive and tasteful as
possible. “Like it or not, this architecture
is more expensive than what you find at most retailers,” said
Again on Monday, the Board discussed referring the
problem back to the Town Board. Chairman Ed Collello
asked, with a note of sarcasm, “How long do
you think it’s going to take our town board
to get together and figure out big box signing?”
“Patterson Crossing will be finished first,” said
Paul Vink, eliciting a laugh at the expense of the
notoriously contentious Town Board.
During the public hearing, Camarda was severely
tested by Lynn Eckhardt, a Southeast member of the
Architectural Review Board, who was the only resident
of Southeast in attendance for the hearing. Eckhardt
picked at Camarda’s arguments that many chain
grocers were allowed several signs to advertise their
floral shops. “This is personal for me,” said
Eckhardt, who owns a garden supply store in Southeast. “First
[these signs] are unattractive, second it hurts small
businesses,” who do not receive the same variances.
“You think everything is offensive,” Camarda
said, pointing at Eckhardt: “Everyone would
like a store that you can’t see, except the
store-owner.” A moment later the developer
turned back to Eckhardt. “I apologize for losing
my cool,” he said.
Though the back-and-forth continued for nearly an
hour, the difference turned out to be Joseph Castellano,
the board member who was absent at the last meeting.
The other board members voted as they had in February,
despite Camarda’s attempts to sway them.
A side issue of a tower at the entrance of Stateline
with signage was put to the side by the board, which
asked Camarda to resubmit plans the following month.
The long-awaited retail center, having cleared one
large hurdle, must now only receive approval for
one more sign, and then a review by the planning
board before proceeding.
The board approved two other agenda items this month.
Resident James Moravick was granted a variance to
construct a two-car garage at his property on Route
22, though the plans put it within 100 feet of the
road. And the property on Two Star Ridge Road was
granted permit to build a sign within 35 feet of