EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 8, 2014

Windham voters could decide civic sign issue

WINDHAM — A plan to let people promote community events through signs on their property is expected to come before Town Meeting.

The Planning Board, meeting tonight, reviews a proposed amendment to the town’s sign regulations.

“Individual property owners may place one unlighted sign advertising an event or meeting for any Windham Civic Organization, non-profit group, religious, educational or similar entity,” the proposal reads.

Signs could be up to 18-by-24 inches on a residential property. They could be 24 square feet on other properties.

“This is kind of a common practice already,” Planning Board Chairman Kristi St. Laurent said.

Groups use signs to promote everything from the mattress sale benefiting a band trip to upcoming plays, she said.

But a problem for the town is that groups have put signs in the public right of way, then forgotten them.

“Signs don’t always get picked up,” St. Laurent said.

Officials hope the proposal will encourage people to place the signs in yards, where a homeowner will have the incentive to take them down, she said.

The proposal would do more than address the issue of signs becoming roadside litter.

St. Laurent said town sign regulations technically don’t allow such advertising of community events now, so the proposal would permit it.

Selectman Al Letizio Jr. recalled how one resident complained to him that a banner he put up at his business promoting the library’s strawberry festival was illegal.

“I’d applaud efforts of the Planning Board to address this,” Letizio said.

The amendment would place restrictions on how long such signs could be up.

The proposal permits them from 14 days before the event until seven days afterward.

St. Laurent said that would give the town code enforcement officer the power to direct people to take down a sign, should a neighbor complain.

But the amendment doesn’t include a fine, she said.

“There is no proposed fine whatsoever,” St. Laurent said.

The amendment says that signs can be put on trees, stakes or fences if they don’t constitute a hazard to traffic or pedestrians.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. in the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.

The town deliberative session is Feb. 8.

Town Meeting is March 11.

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