Bay Ridge business owners feel targeted by the DOB

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BAY RIDGE -

Elected officials and business owners rallied together against the Department of Buildings, which they say has been slapping some small businesses with fines for their signs and awnings.

Several businesses in Bay Ridge say they've been targeted by the DOB and that the fines they receive are starting in the thousands of dollars.

Harry Horowitz shares an office with Senator Reality. The landlord of the building received a violation for not having a permit for the awning. Horowitz says the sign has been the same for decades and there were no violations when the current landlord bought the building.

"In 40 years we have been in Bay Ridge -- this has never happened," Horowitz said.

United Home Center, a hardware store located two doors down from Horowitz, is facing the same problem. Owner Mason Sinno says the awning has remained unchanged for decades, but they were suddenly slapped with a $6,000 fine.

"Obviously someone has a bone to pick with small businesses, but we can't seem to understand why," Sinno says.

Elected officials held a rally on the steps of City Hall to call for a moratorium on sign violations and fines unless there's a public safety issue.

The Department of Buildings responded in a statement saying in part: "We are not targeting businesses around Brooklyn for sign-enforcement efforts; rather, our inspectors typically investigate sign complaints in a neighborhood when they are in the area for other matters."

The DOB also added that the "sign-related inspections were driven by anonymous 311 complaints. Signs which are more than 6 square feet require a special installation permit.”

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