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January 10, 2014

Temporary signs cause trouble in Salem

Regulations tightened

SALEM — Temporary signs have become a hot topic as the town struggles to regulate them and they continue to appear illegally along roadsides.

As town officials fine tune a proposed sign amendment they will present to voters in March, the signs keep popping up.

Meanwhile, some residents are speaking out against the proposal and one is even circulating a citizens petition that's contrary to local law.

Temporary signs have been a controversial issue in town for the last few years, prompting selectmen to voice their concern about them being placed in public rights of way distracting motorists on heavily traveled roads such as Route 28. Officials have been especially concerned about signs placed at busy intersections.

The signs are most often a problem in the summer and fall, when local organizations post many throughout town to advertise festivals and fairs.

But more than a half dozen signs and stakes were recently planted illegally in snowbanks on Route 28, according to Selectman Patrick Hargreaves. He said the signs advertising the Rockingham Hunting and Fishing Expo this weekend were placed all along the roadway.

"They're in the right of way," Hargreaves said.

The town has contacted Rockingham Park officials, and president and general manager Edward Callahan said yesterday expo organizers would remove them by day's end.

"They should be out there this evening and hopefully they will be done taking them down," Callahan said.

Hargreaves said he's frustrated that people continue to put signs where they are forbidden.

"They flood the area before the event," Hargreaves said yesterday. "By the time we send a letter saying they better move it, the event is over."

Hargreaves said the town needs be more aggressive in its enforcement of the sign ordinance. He said the proposed zoning amendment would help do that if it's approved by voters in March.

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