EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 12, 2013

Salem selectmen struggle with sign requests

SALEM — Temporary signs are becoming more of a permanent problem for selectmen.

The board has decided to draft a policy to deal with the many requests they receive from organizations wanting to place temporary signs on town property.

The decision came after the board voted to deny — then approve — the Salem Farmers Market’s request Monday night to place signs in town rights-of-way. Selectmen concluded they needed a policy to clarify what should be allowed and avoid further problems.

“Right now, we are flying on the seat of our britches and we don’t know what we are doing,” Selectman Patrick Hargreaves said. “I agree we do need a policy.”

The board voted unanimously in July to allow farmers market coordinator Jane Lang to place temporary signs on town property every Friday last summer under the condition they were removed the following Sunday — the day of the market.

But Hargreaves said signs were not removed each Sunday, causing him and other selectmen to question if the organization should receive approval.

“I saw a sign pop up at the post office that didn’t come down,” Hargreaves said. “It stayed there.”

Lang said all temporary signs were removed by the deadline, but she believed other signs could remain for longer periods. But the board never granted approval for long-term signs.

Selectmen Stephen Campbell and Michael Lyons opposed the market’s request this week, saying it would set a bad precedent. They said they were afraid other organizations and businesses would expect to receive permission to erect signs on town property to advertise special events.

“I don’t think we should do this,” Lyons said. “I can’t find anything to grab on to to make me vote for this.”

Campbell said he, too, was reluctant to grant the request.

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