Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / News / Legal News / Lawsuit challenges Canandaigua sign ordinance

Lawsuit challenges Canandaigua sign ordinance

Property owners claim law violates civil rights

An outdoor advertising company is suing the town of Canandaigua over a local law regulating advertising signs.

The plaintiffs are Lamar Advertising, Canandaigua National Bank and Trust Co., and Joan Purdy.

Purdy owns property on Route 21, where a Lamar sign is located. The bank owns land on Route 332, where another sign is located.

The complaint seeks an injunction, damages, costs and attorneys’ fees claiming the local law violates the First and 14th Amendments.

In May, town officials sent letters to the property owners saying they will be subject to penalties, fines and other punishment if the outdoor advertising signs are not removed from their property.

“This action by defendants would deprive plaintiffs of their property without just compensation, violate their due process rights, and violate of applicable law including the Beautification Act and New York State Highway Law,” according to the complaint filed June 28 in U.S. District Court in Rochester.

In May, the town sent a notice to Purdy and to the bank stating that the Lamar signs on their property are in violation of the town’s sign ordinance and the signs must be removed.

“The town ordinance unconstitutionally regulates speech, is overbroad, impermissibly favors some categories of non-commercial speech over other categories of noncommercial speech, is vague, and permits the taking or condemnation of private property without the payment of just compensation,” according to the complaint.

The sign ordinance distinguishes between signs that advertise products or services available at the place where the sign is located and signs that advertise products or services at a place “remote from the sign.”

With the exception of some temporary signs, only signs advertising a business or service available where the sign is located are permitted.

The ordinance exempts signs “found by the Canandaigua Town Board to be necessary to a civic or community service or otherwise necessary to serve the public interest, provided the findings of such board describe the nature, including size, location, design, illumination and duration of any such sign found to be necessary.”

But the ordinance does not specify the criteria used to determine whether a sign is “necessary to a civic or community service or otherwise necessary to serve the public interest,” the suit claims.

The plaintiff’s attorney is Joseph D. Picciotti, of Harris Beach PLLC. The town is represented by Syracuse attorney Andrew J. Schwab. Picciotti and Schwab did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[email protected] (585) 232-2035