ALJ recommends sign removal

838 Sixth Avenue, far left, former site of illegal signage. Photo: Brett Reitter.

Building owner failed to establish that advertising signs were a legal, non-conforming use. After Buildings inspectors observed non-illuminated advertising signs larger than 200 sq.ft. on a building at 838 Sixth Avenue in Midtown South, near 29th Street, Buildings charged the owner, Yung Brothers Real Estate Co., with creating a public nuisance by displaying advertising signs greater than 200 sq.ft. without a permit in violation of the construction code and the zoning resolution. The owner admitted that the signs were displayed on the building facade, but argued that the signs were lawful because it had obtained a permit in August 2007. The owner further argued that even if any of the alleged violations occurred before the permit was issued or after its revocation, affixing signs was a legal, non-conforming use because signs had been maintained at the location before a 1995 rezoning prohibited advertising signs on the property.

OATH ALJ Faye Lewis recommended that the signs be removed, concluding that the owner lacked a permit and proof that the signs were a legal, non-conforming use. The owner failed to show that there was an advertising sign on the building prior to the 1995 zoning change. Although the owner submitted a 1940 photograph showing a sign painted on the building’s wall for “Bratman Brothers,” there was insufficient evidence to determine whether it was an advertising sign or whether Bratman Brothers had occupied the building and put up an accessory sign.

DOB v. 838 Sixth Ave., OATH Index No. 2260/09 (July 29, 2009). CITYADMIN

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