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Planning Board Continues Review of Proposed Sign Regulations Amendment

Board members navigating potential impacts on local businesses

On Monday evening, the Westford Planning Board met to continue the review process of amending the sign regulations contained in the town’s bylaws.

The proposed amendment, previously discussed at the January 22nd meeting, is geared toward not only simplifying the process of obtaining a sign permit, but also clarifying the criteria for allowed display area on signs.

When the Board opened the meeting to the public, Scott MacKay, owner of MacKay Hardware and Rental, located at 224 Littleton Road, spoke.

MacKay, accompanied by a notepad fill with comments, began his presentation by recalling how the sign dynamics have changed over the past couple of decades.

He indicated how signs have evolved from “mom and pop signs” to standard signs associated with national brands such as Dunkin Donuts and Exxon/Mobile.

Since Littleton Road has blossomed into a thriving business district and more and more drivers rely on GPS navigation systems, MacKay suggested that an address number should be mandatory for every sign in an effort to facilitate locating destinations.

Financial considerations should also be taken into account from the standpoint of business owners and from the municipal end according to MacKay.

He told the Board members that they might not be aware of the “astronomical” costs involved with purchasing a sign.  If existing signs are deemed non-conforming by the revised bylaws, business owners would be burdened with replacement expenses.

Signs are also levied a tax by the Assessing Department.  Decreasing the overall size requirements for signs lowers the taxes on those signs which in turn reduces the town’s business tax base.

After MacKay’s input, recognizing the importance of hearing more public testimony, and due to the crowded agenda of that evening, the Planning Board voted to continue the regulations review in a two-meeting process.

The public testimony portion of Monday’s meeting was tabled to the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, February 19.  Additionally, a special Planning Board meeting solely to discuss the sign regulations will take place on Wednesday, February 27.  Visit the town's website for further information.

Nancy O'Connell February 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Towns should be 'helping' business's thrive for everyone's sake. They should not be using them, signs, as a revenue generator.
Mike February 12, 2013 at 01:09 PM
So, Nancy...your neighbor is a struggling business owner. Is it OK for him to put up a billboard across from your house?

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