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Missed it by that much

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For people who create printed documents, there’s nothing more irritating than tripping over a typo after the work has been produced.

Sometimes it seems that no matter what effort is made to catch mistakes, inaccuracies will remain imbedded somewhere in the text. That one screw-up will elude the eyes of the writer, an editor and proofreader as the document is being prepared.

But then it’s often the first thing to leap off the page — after the page has been printed. This phenomenon haunts newspaper people to no end.

Sometimes the problem is wording in the text that misleads rather than an actual typo. Misinterpretations often result, forcing the writer to spend time correcting the faulty perceptions that readers have formed.

Textual errors can also cause headaches for municipal leaders. If something in an ordinance does not read as it should, officials either must revise the ordinance or live with the mistake.

The joint town/village Planning Board for Clayton is dealing with such an issue. A village ordinance reads that new buildings must not exceed a height of 45 feet, according to a Friday story in the Watertown Daily Times. However, the ordinance failed to include a clause stipulating that the measurement should be made from the street.

“A new commercial and residential building may be going up [a few blocks from] the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel,” the story reported. “Municipal officials said they hope the new building will add to the experience of the Clayton Riverwalk by bringing a restaurant, retail store and 12 condominiums to the St. Lawrence riverfront. The proposed 20,000- square-foot building will be constructed at 428 Riverside Drive, the site of the former Golden Anchor restaurant. The facility will be built along the Riverwalk.”

But the plans call for the building to be 31 inches taller than what is allowed. The proposal must go before the Planning Board to decide if the additional height should be permitted. Despite the wrong measurement, Planning Board Chairman Roland A. Baril said he didn’t see anything blocking its approval.

That’s good news, as the project looks like it would be a wonderful addition to Clayton’s Riverwalk. It would be a shame to kill the plan based on some murky language in an ordinance.

Mistakes in municipal codes are easy to fix. Just correct the mistake and print a new ordinance — problem solved.

Errors printed in newspapers, however, have a much longer shelf life. We’ve made plenty of them over the years, and some of them aren’t easily forgotten.

To our print colleagues at the village of Clayton, all we can say is, “Welcome to the klub!”

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