The Waverly village board of trustees Tuesday set an August date for a public hearing on a proposed zoning amendment allowing churches to have LED signs in residential areas.

The board voted 5-2, with Patrick Ayres and mayor Dan Leary voting no, to move forward with the proposal. The public hearing will take place at a special meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15 at the village hall on Ithaca Street.

The proposed amendment would allow religious institutions in residential zones to install a ground sign larger than normally allowed by the zone's regulations. Under the amendment, a church could install a ground sign no more than 10 feet high and with a maximum total size of one square foot for each three feet of building frontage, up to 40 square feet.

The proposal would also allow LED signs, but would regulate operation time to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with the exception of emergencies.

The proposed amendment was developed after officials from the Waverly United Methodist Church asked the planning board for permission to install a 28-square-foot digital sign on its Chemung Street property. The planning board recently recommended that LED signs not be allowed in residential areas, without exception.

Village attorney Betty Keene told the board Tuesday that neighboring municipalities do not allow LED signs in residential zones, even for churches, and the move could open the village up to possible litigation if the draft amendment were passed.

Pennsylvania Avenue resident Andrea Giovenco, whose home is near Muldoon Park, presented a letter to board members Tuesday. Giovenco said the allowing of LED signs would alter the character of her neighborhood and of the park, which neighbors three churches.

LED signs would also possibly be a greater distraction to drivers, particularly on Chemung Street, Giovenco said.

Several trustees have argued that LED signs should be permitted in certain areas as they become more prevalent. However, Ayres said he felt the signs were unnecessary for churches to get information out to the public.

"I think it's a very slippery slope that we're getting into," Ayres said. "I just don't think it's appropriate."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.