OPINION: Too late to fix a 50-year-old bureaucratic oops with Watchtower sign

August 9, 2018 By Jack Ryan, Editorial Page Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Departed icon: This 2016 photo offers a glimpse of the Watchtower sign, which stood atop the former headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
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The City Buildings Department has issued a stunning assertion that the iconic Watchtower sign that stood atop the Jehovah Witness headquarters in Brooklyn Heights has been illegal since it was first installed in 1970.

Buildings made the bizarre assertion at a city Board of Standards and Appeals hearing Tuesday night where the new property owners, Columbia Heights Associates, appealed the department’s rationale for denying the owner permission to replace the Watchtower sign atop 30 Columbia Heights.

In addition to the 50-year oops, the department said the Squibb sign that originally stood in its place was illegal, too.

The iconic Watchtower sign’s 15-foot-tall letters were taken down in December but a flashing electric sign that shows the time and temperature was left standing.

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We can’t imagine why no one at the Buildings Department ever questioned if Squibb, the building owners or the Jehovah Witnesses had a permit for their sign. But that is the fault of the Buildings Department, and the new owners should have the right to replace the sign.

That highly visible signage seen every day by thousands of commuters is clearly integral to the value of the building.


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