Retailer’s anti-Cuomo banner violates code, officers say

The taste of the day at an ice cream parlor in Port Jefferson is peach-colored.

However, the business’s recent attempt to provide political commentary could lead to further legal problems with village officials.

Port Jefferson plans to cite Roger’s frigate for violating the village sign code if it does not remove a 60-square-foot banner calling for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to be impeached. It is the fourth time in recent years that the business has been accused of violating village law.

Brian Egan, an attorney for the Port Jefferson village, said shop owner George Wallis never bothered applying for a permit before putting up the sign last week. Wallis will be served a subpoena to appear in the village court if he does not remove the banner by Wednesday, Egan said.

“He understands what the requirements are under the signed code,” said Egan.

The village could ask a judge to fine Wallis up to $ 2,000 for every day he violates the code and order him to remove the sign, Egan said.

Roger Rutherford, general manager of Roger’s frigate, said the sign was put up to protest the state “hiatus” preventing non-essential businesses from operating during the coronavirus epidemic. Rutherford, the president of the village’s Business Improvement District, said the rules could harm small shops like his and force some to close permanently.

The store reopened in mid-May after having been closed for two months, Rutherford said.

“We’re going to leave the sign there because we want the governor to hear our message,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said graffiti was sprayed on the banner Wednesday. Suffolk Police are looking for a woman who can be seen in a video of the incident.

The store was cited in January for violating the Sign Act for a banner in support of President Donald Trump. A hearing on these charges was suspended after the village court was temporarily closed over the pandemic, Egan said.

Wallis is refusing to apply for a permit because he believes Port Jefferson officials object to his political views, Rutherford said.

“We know the village will not allow us to put something this size up, especially with a message like this,” Rutherford said.

Egan said the code is “non-content” and only regulates the size of a character and the types of material that can be used.

Carl MacGowan, a Long Island native, covers Brookhaven Town after previously covering Smithtown, Suffolk County Courts, and numerous spot news and coverage of his 20+ year career on Newsday.