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'Illegal' Dunkin' Donuts Signs Anger Upper East Siders

By Amy Zimmer | June 5, 2012 7:19am
The Department of Buildings said it is looking into whether a new Lexington Avenue Dunkin' Donuts is in compliance with signage laws.
The Department of Buildings said it is looking into whether a new Lexington Avenue Dunkin' Donuts is in compliance with signage laws.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

YORKVILLE — A heavily decorated Dunkin' Donuts is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of some Upper East Siders trying to battle back illegal signage in the neighborhood.

When the java joint introduced itself to the neighborhood with a bevy of signs, flags and banners on Lexington Avenue near East 84th Street recently, residents raised a stink.

Someone filed a complaint with the Department of Buildings on May 24, claiming that the large flag posted over the door of the coffee chain was illegal. The East 86th Street Association received several calls of outrage over the store, and local blogger Andrew Fine filed missives about it last week — first decrying the seven signs posted outside its 10-foot storefront, and then again when he saw even more signs had been added.

"They have added five patriotic buntings, an eighth sign, an 8'x5' flag, a dozed strings of banners and a mascot," Fine, a real estate broker, wrote to DNAinfo New York after even more signs appeared.  "Amazing, and surely an UES record!"

He added, "The signage there is hideous."

Elaine Walsh, president of the East 86th Street Association, whose group has been focusing on the problem of illegal signage in the area for years, said Dunkin' Donuts achieved a new level of gaudiness.

"It is unbelievable," she said of the signs. "It's through the hilt, and it's totally illegal. … But it's not even that it's illegal. It's garish. No taste whatsoever."

After complaints came pouring into the East 86th Street Association, the neighborhood group also notified the Department of Buildings, Walsh said.

"The department will be inspecting the complaint in the near future to determine if the signage is in compliance," a DOB spokeswoman said.

Dunkin' Donuts did not immediately respond for comment.

"We continue to have all these illegal signs, from PC Richards to Tasti D-Lite to Best Buy — you name it," Walsh added. "There's a total lack of enforcement."

In April, Upper East Side state Assemblyman Dan Quart, who had joined forces with the Carnegie Hill Neighbors Association to document alleged sign infractions, asked the Department of Buildings to increase enforcement. His office claimed that DOB never responded.

"The Department of Buildings has not responded in a timely matter to the community's concerns about the illegal signs that continue to be a pervasive problem in this area," Quart said. "The department's failure to enforce its own regulations has negatively impacted the quality of life of local residents."

He reiterated his call for Manhattan Borough Commissioner Derek Lee to schedule an inspection of the area "to ensure compliance with the department's own signage regulations."