Zoning Discussing Changes to Sign, Commercial Vehicle Ordinances

The commission recently reviewed amendment drafts.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission is considering whether to change two town ordinances, one regulating commercial vehicles and the other temporary signs. The commission read through and discussed drafts of the proposed amendments at a recent meeting.

Before any changes can be approved, the commission is required to hold a public hearing and take testimony regarding the issues. Town Planner Jeffrey Ollendorf indicated the commission could schedule a public hearing for March or April.

Commercial Vehicles

The existing commercial vehicle ordinance is outdated, Ollendorf told the commissioners, and a recent appearance by a tradesman who uses his truck for business prompted the review.

Currently the ordinance regulates vehicles by weight and limits the vehicle to two axles. Commercial vehicles with more than a 1.5 ton capacity cannot be kept in a residential zone.

“That provision of limitation is from the 1960s and we found out that doesn’t regulate things that we thought it did,” Ollendorf said. “It doesn’t really standardize weight, length or height of the vehicle.”

The intent is to draft a definition of a vehicle residents won’t find offensive parked in their neighbor’s driveway.

“If a person has the option to park it behind the house, down the street, in the garage, they should take it,” Dunn said. “I don’t want to tell them they can’t bring it home but I certainly can tell them if they have the option of putting it out of sight, they should do so.”

A few commissioners noted that policing the regulation would be a problem.

“I’m not suggesting you run around town to police it but if it came up on the radar screen by a neighbor’s complaint,” Dunn said. “Do it on a complaint basis.”

Even if not stringently policed, Commissioner Barbara Brenneman said she was worried the changes might impact small business owners.

“We have so many people in town who have their private business in their trucks —carpenters, plumbers, furniture makers,” Brenneman said.

She was also concerned about those who might be impacted by proposed changes to the temporary sign regulations.

Temporary Signs

The amendment looks to limit temporary signs, such as those advertising upcoming benefits and events, and to keep them out of landscaped areas.

“All temporary signs shall be registered with the Zoning Enforcement Officer before they are displayed. No more than I5 signs per event may be displayed at any one time,” says a draft of the amendment.

It names specific intersections, mostly those landscaped and tended by the Farmington Garden Club and Unionville Village Improvement Association, that would be off limits to signage.

“We had an internal discussion about protecting the plantings with UVIA and the town manager and they agreed it was a good idea,” Ollendorf said. “As a footnote to that, the island is the jurisdiction of the state of Connecticut and they don’t allow signs there.”

The draft lists the following islands: on the south side of Main Street and Farmington Avenue in Farmington; the south side of the intersection of Farmington Avenue and South Main Street in Unionville; the island at the corner of Colton Street and Main Street in Farmington; at the intersection of High Street and Mountain Road; at Coppermine Road and West District Road; Coppermine Road and Red Oak Hill Road; Church Street and Main Street as well as within 50 feet of the Welcome to Farmington Sign at the I-84 exit ramp and Farmington Avenue.

“The concept is fine,” Brenneman said. “But policing it is going to be hellacious… and I think there are going to be some local folks very upset.

She mentioned churches, PTAs, fire departments, and service organizations.

“A lot of people are going to be impacted by this and we need to be prepared to deal with that… a lot of organizations need signs to advertise.”

Bill Stanford said he’d like to see an explicit fine for groups that do not remove their signs. James Leblanc agreed and suggested bonding the signs in advance.

“We’re allowing people to utilize public space that is easily seen within the town and if we’re going to do that — I think people would agree it would be nice not to have any signs but being sensitive that people depend on them — I think there should be a fine if they don’t remove them,” Leblanc said.

The town has three types of temporary signs, Ollendorf said:

  • Those placed by Farmington groups
  • Those from charitable or educational groups from out of town
  • Those placed by businesses coming in

A public hearing is expected in late March on the issue.

Kaitlin Glanzer March 07, 2012 at 12:00 PM
I see what you're saying, Randy, except that members will frequently say 'I' to express where they stand on an issue. Bill Stanford, for example, said "I'd like to see an explicit fine" for those who leave their signs up. And Barbara Brenneman said "I think we're beginning to micromanage."
Randy Wallace March 07, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I still feel concerned for private business owners that will be stifled, and as I said before, are they not taxpayers as well as other business owners - just that they drive a commercial vehicle? This seems discriminatory and certainly does not bode well with a town that has been trying to welcome and support business in town. Sounds like snobbery and bully behavior to me.
Kaitlin Glanzer March 07, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Randy, thanks for your comment. I'm surprised no one else has shared their thoughts on the commercial vehicle proposal or the temporary sign amendment, which would impact many town organizations.
Saul Freedman March 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Randy, care to disclose your history with Mr. Dunn, in the interests of transparency?
Bob Smith March 07, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Come now randy! What happened to giving Mr. Dunn a chance like you suggested in your last comments about the new zoning board..... and what about your comments about needing new blood on the zoning board.... Should I assume you now feel you were wrong? I will say that the one great thing about posting on the Patch is being able to go back and quote people after they have made dumb comments that they later contradict.


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