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June 25, 2011

 

Homer church sign too flashy, some contend

Residents object to Congregational Church’s electric sign on historic Village Green

HomerBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Congregational Church recently installed an electric sign on the Village Green in front of the church. Some village residents have complained that it does not fit in with the historic nature of the area.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — A new electric sign in front of the Homer Congregational Church has raised concerns from some village residents who say it does not match the historic qualities of the Village Green.
Mary Alice Bellardini, a former village mayor, first saw the new sign in early June. She said some members of the community have asked her, “What is going on on the green?”
“There are places for LED (signs), for example Route 281 in more commercial areas,” Bellardini said. “This is the designated historic district.”
The Rev. James Ziobro said the sign marks a change for the church and the Village Green. The First Religious Society founded the church and owns the Village Green.
He said the church is adding a wood frame and a brick base that will match the sign to the church’s architectural design.
At the end of May, church members helped put up the 3-by-5-foot sign, which has a flashing LED message board.
“We’re going to make it fit into the architecture and landscape,” Ziobro said. “I think and I hope it will fit in to the environment and that people will be accepting of it.”
He hopes the sign will “mark the church” and inform people of upcoming events. He said the sign could also be used to let residents know about Homer’s Winterfest, Homer Firemen’s Field Days and other community activities.
“The sign doesn’t respect the history of the Village Green,” said Homer resident Kim Hubbard, who also wrote a letter to the editor about the issue in Friday’s edition of the Cortland Standard.
Hubbard said the First Religious Society has a responsibility to respect the Village Green’s historic style. The church has been on the Village Green since 1801.
He said the flashing electronic sign takes away from that historic feel and makes the green seem more like a commercial space.
“We’re trying to make this village the beautiful and historic place it can be,” Hubbard said.
He said the church stands out because of its size and makes the sign unnecessary. “People don’t walk by and wonder where the church is,” Hubbard said.
The Village Green itself has been a recognized part of the community since the village was founded in 1791. It has become a site of many community activities, such as the annual Bluegrass on the Green, Holiday in Homer and the Homer Farmers Market.
Ziobro said he has heard some residents’ concerns about the sign. The church received approval last year from the village Zoning Board to install the sign, he added.
Ziobro said he appreciated community feedback.
“We do appreciate the patience of the community as we get the sign completed,” Ziobro said. “We understand we have to finish it and we’re in that process ... I think ultimately it will do its job.”

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