The Westford Planning Board has postponed a decision on three internally lit freestanding pole signs at entranceways to Cornerstone Square on Boston Road and Littleton Road last night during their meeting at the Millennium Building.
Nearly two hours were spent in discussion between Cornerstone attorney Douglas Deschenes, the board and several local residents over various topics related to the signs, which Deschenes claimed were not bound to earlier prohibitions on internally lit cabinet style signs for the buildings themselves.
During Deschenes’ testimony, he claimed that the proposals fit well within the town bylaws which allow one freestanding pole sign per multi-tenant building, with Cornerstone possessing six.
Deschenes also made comments that the amount of combined square footage on the signs, 147 square feet for the signs at the Boston Road entrance and the entrance to the sign on the northern side of Littleton Road and 127 square feet for the sign on the entrance on the southern side of Littleton Road.
Concerns arose from the board in terms of square footage in relation to the fact that “directory” signage signs within a larger sign such as this one are limited to two square feet in the bylaws.
However, Deschenes claimed that the signage indicating tenants within the sign were not separate “directory” signs rather parts of the main sign, and that attempts to prohibit content in the sign violated Cornerstone’s constitutional free speech rights.
More concerns arose related to sightline safety for motorists looking at the signs, whether lettering on the signs was large enough to see while driving, how far the signs were from the road, to the style of the signs, which Planning Board member Kate Hollister called “cheesy” and “kind of gaudy.”
Some residents, such as Paul Fosbender of Texas Road, were frustrated with the fact that the sign did not meet the intent of the Route 110 Master Plan approved in 2009.
“Originally signs along the road were really low, this seems like a step backwards,” said Fosbender. “Under the letter of the bylaw, these are fine, but the old bylaw for us the Boston Post Plaza sign, and the town’s stated we wanted to get rid of those in the future.”
Other concerns from the audience arose over potential changes that might need to be made to the sign in the future.
“Your signs have space for 15 tenants, but your plans indicate you eventually want 25,” said Chris Koontz, also of Texas Road. “What happens when 16, 17, 18 and so on, arrive?”
Most residents in attendance, as well as the board and town staff, seemed opposed to the proposal, although the request did have backers, such as Richard Seiger of nearby Kansas Circle.
Seiger sought to buy a fast food franchise for somewhere in the Minot’s Corner area shortly after Wendy’s closed, but he was told by national chains that the area was not conducive to businesses of that type due to signage limitations near the road.
“I can’t tell you the number of times before Burger King closed that people went into the service entrance behind the building,” said Seiger. “In order to bring developers into town, you’ve got to give them the ability to attract tenants.”
The issue will be taken back up at the board’s next meeting on May 7.