The Washington Township Council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the rules for signs in the during their meeting this week.
Business owners in the strip mall had been asking for looser restrictions because the current signs, which are almost all uniform in color and font, are difficult to read and do not catch the eyes of potential customers, they said. The changes remove the one-color and one-font restrictions, and also increase the maximum allowed size to a 12.5-foot by 4-foot area.
The business owners will need to get a permit from the town and will also require permission from the property's manager, the Azarian Group, before they can put up new signs. They will also have to wait 20 days from Friday, when the ordinance is published in local newspapers, before making any changes, officials said.
Besides the new storefront signs, the business owners hope more signs will help attract more people driving by on Pascack Road. Terry Kipriadis of said they would like to be included on a marquee sign — either the exisiting one or a new one — because the temporary "best gyros" signs they put near the road drew in many customers, Kipriadis said.
At previous council meetings, some residents complained about the temporary signs. Gyros and Goodies has since removed theirs, but others businesses in the mall have also put out temporary signs.
"None of us really like them," Kipriadis said. "We would like to have a lovely marquee."
John Azarian, the CEO of the Azarian Group, told Patch that the current marquee cannot be altered because of lease agreements with the three tenants featured on the sign: , and the . According to Azarian, neither he or the property's owner have an interest in adding a new marquee.
"To list 30-something signs on a marquee would result in such small lettering that the names wouldn’t be legible unless you were walking by and stopped," Azarian wrote in an email to Patch.
Azarian was hired by mall owner Adele DiChiara to late last year, when there were already many empty storefronts in the mall. Azarian attended several Washington Township Council and Planning Board meetings over the past few months to speak in favor of changes to the sign ordinance.
Still, much of the mall remains empty. Just as the business owners hope their new signs will attract more customers, Azarian said he hopes new real estate signs, , will help attract new tenants. Azarian is scheduled to appear before the planning board to receive permission to keep the real estate signs up longer.
"We have been aggressively marketing space in the Washington Town Center," Azarian wrote.
Azarian told Patch the sign law had been "a major impediment" for his efforts to find tenants. He is currently working with several potential businesses for space in the mall.