Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • June 17, 2009 Franklin Lakes Realtors’ signs permitted on temporary basis by Frank J. McMahon The Franklin Lakes Council has passed a resolution that will permit the placement of Realtors’ “open house” directional signs on the main roads leading to the house at which the event is being held during a trial period of six months or less. The trial period will permit the council to evaluate the effect of the directional signs on the real estate market in the borough, and any impact they may have on residents who are not selling their homes. During an open house, a Realtor permits the public to tour a house that is for sale without making an appointment with a Realtor. The resolution to temporarily permit directional signs was drafted and passed at the last public council meeting, which was attended by Tamar “Tommi” Joffe, the manager of the Weichert Realtors office in Franklin Lakes and Peter McBride, the president and owner of the McBride Agency on Franklin Lake Road. They requested the relaxation of the borough’s ban on the directional signs, citing the recent experience of Realtors who held two open houses in the borough where no one showed up to view the houses for sale, while other Realtors who posted directional signs said they had five viewers one week and seven the next week. According to Joffe, there have been 24 foreclosures in the borough and 10 short sales, and there is a 12 to 13 month inventory of houses for sale within the borough. A short sale is one in which the proceeds from the sale fall short of the balance owed on the loan on the property. She said market absorption in the borough is improving and the directional signs will help to stimulate the real estate market in the borough. She emphasized, however, that the Realtors do not want to hurt anybody or compromise the safety of the town, and they do not want to litter the town. She promised that the signs would be installed and removed in compliance with the borough’s current code requirements. McBride pointed out that, at present, most house sales are re-sales, and 70 percent of buyers come from within a 10 to 15 miles radius of the borough. “The number one thing that sells real estate is the signs,” he emphasized. Noting that most roads in the borough are county roads and thoroughfares, he said, “Someone on a county road doesn’t know there is an open house two blocks away.” McBride also pointed out that the use of the directional signs would help those residents who have lived in the borough for 20 to 30 years and paid their taxes during that time and would now like to sell their homes. He promised to work with the borough to make sure the use of the signs is controlled. The resolution states that the signs would be allowed for a six month period, or sooner if the council terminates or modifies the permission before then. No more than one sign per intersection would be allowed, and the signs must all be placed on the public rights-of-way and not interfere with sight distances. The size of the signs must also comply with the borough’s sign ordinance. The council passed the resolution unanimously with one abstention by Councilwoman Paulette Ramsey, who explained that her daughter is a Realtor. However, some concerns about the use of the signs were expressed before the vote. Councilman Steve Marcus voiced concern about the impact of the signs on other residents. “The question is how do people who are not selling their homes feel about being reminded about the house sales at every turn?” Marcus said. “I’d like to hear what other people think before we make a decision.” Councilman Michael Friscia raised the concerns about the length of the temporary permission, restricting the use of signs to Saturdays and Sundays, and how the borough would control the number of the signs placed on the roadways. Councilwoman Nathalie Lota said the trial period would allow the council to ascertain what other people think, and Councilwoman Leslie Greer said that while the recent placement of political signs in the borough was “over the top” and there are some negative feelings toward signs, she felt the council should try this on a temporary basis. Councilman Brian Trava suggested there could be a fine if the signs are not taken down on time, but Borough Attorney Douglas Doyle advised that suggestion would require a change to the borough ordinance pertaining to signs. Currently, the borough code permits real estate forsale signs on the premises being sold. Signs cannot exceed an area of eight square feet and must be removed seven days after the execution of a contract or the expiration of the listing agreement. The code also permits real estate open house signs, but they must be placed on the property being offered for sale and they must be placed no sooner than one hour before the beginning of the scheduled event and removed no later than 5 p.m. of the day on which the open house was conducted. The code does not currently permit open house directional signs.