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Cornerstone Returns to Planning Board With New Style of Entrance Signs

The new proposed signs eschew the previous "square" design, using a recessed brick facade, varied lighting sources and a circular floral planter in hopes of softening the image of the contentious proposal.

The Cornerstone sign saga remains uncompleted, but it took a new turn on Monday night’s Planning Board meeting as the proposed signs were presented with a new look.

Withdrawing an earlier “square” version of the sign, the new look offered a mix of lighting methods and style features, including a recessed brick façade and a circular floral planter that ends with a fluted decorative landscaping cylinder at each of the signs’ further points from the street.

 “We’ve created a variety of surfaces, it’s not a flat panel anymore,” said Cornerstone attorney Douglas Deschenes. “We think this addresses a lot of the concerns about scaling in relation to the signs by providing different shapes and contours.”

Several members of the Planning Board were appreciative of the style changes, with Kevin Borselli leading the way, calling the move “a step in the right direction.” However, the size of the signs still remained a concern, with Texas Road resident Chris Kuntz providing context that the proposed sign would reach from the floor to beyond the ceiling of the room that the meeting was being held in while almost filling the room lengthwise as well.

Cornerstone developer Robert Walker believed that the size claims weren’t approp due to the context of buildings near the freestanding signs as well as contour changes that would threaten the three signs’ effectiveness if reduced much further.

“If you try to squash these signs down, they’ll look totally out of character with the rest of the development,” said Walker.

New additions to the stand alone signs at the development’s three entrances also included an 8”4 by 7”0 side area for smaller tenant signs and removing individual tenant signs altogether on the side of the Boston Road entrance sign facing away from I-495 since drivers would only be able to use that entrance coming in from 495.

Westford Police safety officer Michael Croteau indicated that the signs did not give vehicles blind spots to other vehicles while leaving the development on Littleton Road, and the 50 foot buffer between the sign and the street at the Boston Road entrance appeared to be adequate, although chairman Michael Green disputed the claim that three cars would be able to see clearly up Boston Road.

Concerns of exiting vehicles not being able to see pedestrians at the northern Littleton Road entrance were also rectified by a "pedestrian refuge", cutting the crosswalk in half by expanding the grassy area where the sign would be located to alert pedestrians that they have to stop.

Croteau’s main safety concern with the signs came from worries about light intensity, fearing that motorists heading down Littleton and Boston Road may be districted if the signs are lit too brightly.

 Numerous topics ranging from which tenants will be on which signs, styles of fonts on the signs and other overarching topics such as sign size and location still remain to be determined, with discussion continuing on June 18.

CORRECTION - 10:24 a.m., 6/5/12 -- The resident's name is Chris Kuntz, and the sign would be 15" high, slightly above where the ceiling was in the room the meeting was held in at Town Hall.

Paul F June 06, 2012 at 05:47 PM
The signs do look a lot nicer than the last version, and are indeed a "step in the right direction" in that respect. Now what we need are a few giant steps in the direction of making them smaller. Each time Cornerstone has come back with a new version of the signs, THEY GET BIGGER!!! Let's see the same creativity applied to making great looking, upscale-style, smaller signs that match the intent of Westford's Master Plans! And please, use the "Sign Examples" posted above as examples of signs to avoid using! Look at the examples in the Route 110 Master Plan and the Comprehensive Master Plan for the type of signs to use in Westford. (Some examples posted with the photos above.) http://www.westfordma.gov/pages/government/towndepartments/boardsandcommittees/WestfordMA_planning/documents/rt110/
Vincent DiRico June 07, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Thanks, that would be helpful if it were the whole truth but it ISN'T. Just last night I drove between Boston Rd and the 99 with my family. I counted ~ 1/2 a dozen signs listing tenants (Olde Boston Square and Gateway being the biggest). They are practically on the road and use fonts smaller than this 1/2 of one hundred year old resident can't read (so not only do you HAVE them, they are next to useless)! The samples you show are ideal for developments right on the road (nothing between the road and store fronts except for parking). That is not the case with my 2 examples and also not the case for Cornerstone.
Paul F June 10, 2012 at 05:56 PM
There are many signs in Westford that don't comply with the current vision of Westford as described in the Master Plans. The two you described are regularly cited as examples of signs that are ineffective, should never have been permitted and should be changed. Last year the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen initiated a multi-step process to bring signs along Route 110 more in line with the Route 110 Master Plan. 1. UNDERSTAND the Sign Bylaw. Alternate text organization was proposed by a group led by the League of Women Voters and reviewed at public hearings. 2. CLARIFY the Sign Bylaw. A revised Sign Bylaw was approved at the 2011 ATM. Sections were reorganized for clarity and changes included clarifying that signs with exposed LEDs are not permitted and that signs for major projects will be reviewed by the Planning Board or Board of Appeals. 3. ENFORCE the Sign Bylaw. The goal was stated to enforce the Sign Bylaw in all future decisions. 4. REPLACE the Sign Bylaw. A working group was convened with the goal of replacing the Sign Bylaw. Discussions have included making the Sign Bylaw part of the General Bylaws, which would make it easier to require conformance. As part of this process, applicants are encouraged to propose signs that take advantage of research that is now available on the effectiveness of signs and are consistent with Westford's vision for the future, not copy the mistakes of the past.
Vincent DiRico June 13, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I do agree crowded signs are not helpful; but they don't make my eyes bleed ;) If I were the developer of CS I would just do really nice CS square signs at the entrance/exit and have all businesses always always always state "I am located in CS which is located at ...".
Paul F July 15, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Cornerstone Signs to be discussed at tomorrow's Planning Board Meeting (7/16/12) Discussions on the two large Cornerstone signs prpoposed for Boston and Littleton Road entrances will be continued at 7:50 pm. Following that, new sign proposals for Cornerstone tenants Burton's Grill and Market Basket will be heard. Both are asking for signs larger than permitted by the Sign Bylaw. Sign Special Permit applications received from Five Guys and Family Eye Care will be scheduled for a future Planning Board meeting. All applications can be viewed at the Planning Office in Town Hall. Everyone is encouraged to attend the public hearings and voice your opinions to the Board.

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