hot-topic rightRejecting the advice of the borough planning board, the Red Bank Council last night said merchants may put sandwich-board advertising on sidewalks outside their establishments through the end of this year.

Overruling concerns that the signs would pose a safety hazard to pedestrians and violate the intent of the borough’s master plan, the council voted 5-1 for an ordinance permitting free-standing signage, which they said is needed to help stores attract customers in a difficult economy.

Councilwoman Sharon Lee, who as a member of the planning board joined the majority in rejecting the ordinance last week, cast the lone no vote last night. She repeated concerns that the ordinance raised public safety issues.

“When you look at how many obstacles are on our major roadways… menus, out door seating,” she said. “You can’t walk down there with a stroller.”

Debate over the law prompted a rebuke of Mayor Pasquale Menna by Councilman Mike DuPont after Menna expressed doubts that the ordinance would be allowed to expire as scheduled on December 31.

“I would be extremely shocked” if the ordinance isn’t made permanent, said Menna, who only votes in the case of a tie, “but you guys are going to do what you want.”

That brought a sharp retort from fellow Democrat DuPont, who said Menna had “disrespected this council by saying we will not listen to criticism.”

Here’s the ordinance: 2010-25ordinance