Temporary Signs Debated At Planning Board Meeting

Building Inspector Richard Canuel will rewrite some sections of a proposed ordinance change on temporary signs, following Planning Board discussion on the matter. Canuel brought a potential ordinance change request affecting temporary signs to the board at its May 1 meeting. Temporary signs are those that are mounted on trailers, or A-frame signs that businesses use to advertise sales during the business day and are then brought in at closing.

“As the board will recall, some time ago Kathy Wagner had approached the board regarding the possibility of allowing A-frame type signs that are not currently allowed as temporary signs without permits,” Canuel said. “As a result of that I put together some proposed provisions to amend the ordinance to allow A-frame signs, primarily placed out in front of an establishment without permit approval, as opposed to our current temporary sign ordinance that only allows it for a maximum of 30 days twice in a calendar year.”

Canuel said the proposed amendment would allow the A-frame signs at any time, with the restriction that they be placed in front of the establishment and no more than six feet out from the establishment, so the signs would not be in the town right-of-way. Canuel said the proposed amendment was in response to Wagner’s inquiry. Wagner is Town Treasurer and owns ImageAbility, which sells A-frame signs.

Town Planner Cynthia May said the signs would be limited to multi-tenant commercial establishments, not every individual business. Board member Laura El-Azem asked if they could put the sign out for not more than 30 days and Canuel said that was the second part of the ordinance amendment, which covered larger, wheeled portable signs. Currently the ordinance allows the bigger portable signs to be used for 30 consecutive days twice per year. The new ordinance would allow them three times per year.

“This is a two-part proposal: one covers the A-frame signs, which people can set up right in front of their establishment for tenants in multi-tenant commercial establishments like the Apple Tree Mall and the Crossroads Mall, and still advertise on those larger temporary signs, but instead of twice a year, allow them three times a calendar year,” Canuel said.

Board member Scott Benson asked if permits would still be needed for the larger temporary signs and Canuel said they would. Benson is vice president of Benson Lumber & Hardware.
Board member Mary Wing Soares wondered what that would mean if an establishment had six tenants and each applied one after the other for a large temporary sign, whether that sign could exist for a year with just the tenant’s name being changed.

Board Chairman Art Rugg said the change in the ordinance would mean that businesses in a multi-tenant facility would have to decide which tenants would use the sign for the 30 days allowed three times per year. The overall facility would be allowed to have a sign for 30 days three times a year, not each tenant. El-Azem said that if the current two times a year wasn’t an issue, having them displayed three times a year wouldn’t cause Londonderry to “become ugly. “If you’re being inundated with calls and you want to change from two times a year to three, it doesn’t seem to be that extreme a change to me,” El-Azem said.

Canuel said he was trying to “accommodate businesses and allow them to advertise without being overly restrictive.” “I think Londonderry is not friendly to businesses in town,” Benson said. “We want new business in town, we want businesses to thrive so you have more people coming into town to reside here.” Rugg said Londonderry is restrictive because that is what the community has always wanted. “It’s really trying to achieve a balance with the aesthetics so we don’t look like Route 28 in Salem,” Rugg said.
Members decided Canuel should rewrite the wording of the proposed changes for clarification.

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