Planning Board Holds Workshop to Discuss Sign Regulations Amendment
With Town Meeting on the horizon, Board works to prepare bylaw amendment for approval
As the 2013 Annual Town Meeting creeps closer, the Westford Planning Board held an informal working session on Wednesday night to continue discussing the proposed amendment to the town’s sign regulations.
Town Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 23rd. With only two regularly scheduled Planning Board meetings before then, the Board is aiming to approve the pending amendments so that they can be voted upon.
Chris Kluchman, the Town Planner, and Board members Mike Green and Matt Lewin, along with several residents, met at the Police Training Facility on Main Street.
Everyone in attendance received handouts of the existing sign regulations, a draft of the proposed sign regulations, and a draft of revised definitions related to signs. Kluchman also handed out a photocopy of a Power Point presentation that highlighted the differences between the current regulations and the proposed.
Green, the Board’s Vice Chairman, addressed the group at the start of the meeting by saying the “goal is to simplify reading, understanding, and implementation of the bylaws.”
Kluchman, who has been working on the proposed sign regulations since 2011, walked the group through the Power Point handout.
The handout detailed seven specific goals of the bylaw revisions.
- Streamline the process for applicants and staff in current sign bylaw
- Correct deficiencies identified by staff that could be subject to legal challenge
- Address situations not covered in current (e.g. multi-building shopping centers, office parks)
- Create a bylaw that is easier to understand and to administer
- Balance the needs of property owners and businesses to freedom of expression and need to deliver messages to customers with community needs for “look and feel” of Town and with public safety
- Reduce the number of signs requiring Special Permit approval
- Allow administrative approval of signs meeting dimensional standards by the Building Commissioner
Lewin said that most business owners he has spoken with have issues concerning the decreased sign dimensions. Green acknowledged that concern as well saying there is a “safety and visibility aspect to it.”
Under the existing sign regulations, any proposed sign needs approval from either the Planning Board or Board of Selectmen. Lewin said that with signs eligible for administrative approval, the Planning Board will spend significantly less time dealing with sign cases thus allowing the Board to focus on more important projects and issues.
“It is so much more streamlined and efficient for the vast majority of these permits. It’s a huge benefit.”
Formal discussion of the sign regulations will continue at the March 4th Planning Board hearing. For more information about the sign bylaws, visit the town's website.