Volume 75, Number 30 | December 14 - 20, 2005

Villager photo

Neighbors think the red neon signs of the new Abitino’s pizzeria at Carmine St. are illegal.

Blinded by the light: Pizza signage draws protests

By Daniel Wallace

If you are hungry, like pizza and happen to be walking west on Bleecker St. across Sixth Ave., your face may just glow as you approach Abitino’s Pizza on the corner of Carmine St.

Actually, it will, and not just from joyful anticipation. Abitino’s 2-foot-by-10-foot illuminated signs on its facades, facing Carmine and Bleecker Sts., shine like beacons in the night. Some residents believe they are gaudy and too reminiscent of Times Square for the West Village’s more quaint Father Demo Square.

David Gruber, president of the Carmine Street Block Association, or CaSBA, said association members really don’t like the signs and have been making calls to try to get them removed.

“These signs are several times the size of what’s allowed in a C-1 [commercial] zone,” he contended. “It’s so out of scale. This place was taken over when Joe’s Pizza lost the lease.” The sign of Joe’s, which is still in business in a space nearby, was never neon.

Jennifer Givner, a Department of Buildings spokesperson, said Abitino’s filed an application for the signs on Aug. 11 and that D.O.B. approved the application the same day.

“But there have been recent complaints,” Givner said over the phone while scrolling on her computer. “We received a complaint on Aug. 19, inspected it on the 22nd and found no action necessary.”

Givner said there are two types of signs. Advertising signs and business accessory signs, each of which has its own regulations. She said the Abitino’s signs, which fall under the accessory category, do appear to comply with the zoning laws for the Bleecker/ Carmine Sts. area, which is a mixed-use district with commercial and residential zoning.

“Let’s see,” she said, scrolling. “There was another complaint on Sept. 22, then on the 23rd.” She paused. “Oh boy, the neighborhood is up in arms.”

Givner counted nine sign-related complaints. She said that, according to the records, the buildings department responded to the complaints again on Nov. 14 but concluded after another inspection that no action was necessary.

Basically, the signs comply with all laws but are aesthetically disturbing to some residents, Givner said.

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