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Proposed Sign Changes To Get Discussion Tonight

Commission will take up amendment that would affect numerous local nonprofits.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission will discuss a proposed change to the town’s sign ordinance at tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Town Hall.

The current proposed draft of the amendment looks to more closely regulate the placement and number of signs that dot the Farmington landscape: no more than 15 signs per event, certain landscaped islands and ‘pocket parks’ would be off limits and groups must register signs in advance with the Plan and Zoning office. Violators risk having their signs removed and held at Town Hall for pickup.

The amendment began with the hope of keeping signs out of the carefully landscaped islands, cared for mostly by the Farmington Garden Club, and expanded to include the other aspects. The amendment was drafted by Town Planner Jeffrey Ollendorf and not the commission.

Members of the Garden Club are in support of the amendment and plan to pass their sentiments on to town officials.

“The club just feels the signs detract from our efforts to beautify our town with seasonal plant material. And the signs become kind of an eyesore in terms of our beautification efforts,” said Martha Cheshire, a member of the club.

But many members of the garden club and many more town residents are involved with nonprofit groups who use temporary signs to publicize fundraisers and events.

Most people would say they’d like to limit commercial signs but sentiment toward those posted by nonprofits is not as clear.

“Collectively if you were to ask the group, they would say we really are opposed to the mass commercial signs – like the clearance signs on carpets where all of a sudden there are 300 signs in town – rather than to go after the nonprofits, which a lot of us support.”

But the sign ordinance can’t really differentiate between nonprofit and commercial groups, Ollendorf said during a recent zoning meeting.

And the amendment as proposed may meet some opposition from the many local groups. Everyone from PTOs, church groups, music and robotics students, sports teams and the fire departments post temporary signs to notify residents of upcoming events, many of which serve to fund their activities.

Troop 68 leader Ted Sanford said the proposed amendment would create problems for the Boy Scouts.

“We’ve used temporary signs for can and bottle drives that we hold and it’s the only way we advertise. It would really affect us and I think it would be an unnecessary burden,” Sanford said. “It’s tough enough to get things done without adding things like getting prior approval.”

The amendment, however, is still a draft and the zoning commission is interested in hearing what the public has to say before taking any action, Commission Chairman Phil Dunn said.

A copy of the most current draft is attached to this article and will be available at tonight’s meeting.

Correction: The article originally said that a public hearing on the amendment would be held tonight. Tonight's meeting will include discussion only.

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