Revised Sign Ordinance Gets Planning Board OK

The Planning Board has approved a revised sign ordinance, with an amendment crafted at the July 17 board meeting. Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey spoke to the ordinance, noting that the process began about a year ago. The revisions were intended to bring all sign regulations into one place in the document, making it more user- and business-friendly.

The document was written, rewritten and discussed in several board meetings and included input from the National Sign Association and local business people. A draft document went to the Town Council, which suggested changes. It has been adjusted, Mackey said. Features of the new document include removing the “billboard” designation from the heading, as the town doesn’t allow them, Mackey said. New regulations were added for shopping malls and multi-tenanted buildings.

Electronic message board signs are allowed only in the General Commercial and Industrial IV districts.
Real estate signs have been expanded to 4 square feet, residential, and 18 square feet, commercial, Mackey said.

Mackey said he received a call from a local real estate agent who expressed concern that only one sign was allowed on a lot. The caller pointed out that commercial lots were larger. Mackey said, “Could we have one sign for residential, two for commercial? What is your input?”

Chairman David Granese responded, “I can’t think of any parcel in town that needs two signs, unless it’s on a corner.” He used the former Grandview Flea Market as an example, saying that a “For Sale” sign could be placed on Route 28 and also on Island Pond Road.

Vice-chair John O’Connor brought up the wordage on political signs, which are allowed on private property. The ordinance calls for all political signs to be removed within five days after the election. He asked if an exception could be made for political primary signs, noting that for primary winners, these remained relevant until the November general election.

Member Jim MacEachern said, “What you run into is, if you don’t tell them to take the signs down, people get lazy. But it’s not fair to the people who won.” Mackey said his department removes the signs if they are not taken down within the five days, and brings them to the Municipal Building to await collection by owners.

On the real estate signs, MacEachern recommended leaving it up to Mackey’s judgment whether to allow a second sign on a commercial property. “If you say you’ll allow two, you will get two everywhere,” he predicted. “Restrict it to one, and let Bob take it on a case-by-case basis.” MacEachern proposed an amendment to say that only one real estate sign was allowed, “except at the discretion of Mr. Mackey.”

Planning Director George Sioras warned that if they make the change, they would have to have a second public hearing. “This is a substantial change, not just editorial,” he said.The board voted 8-0 to accept the amendment, and 8-0 to approve the amended document.

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