DOVER -- Before adopting new sign ordinances, Selectboard members want business owners to have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed changes.
"I think it's important for the business community to be informed because they're the most affected by it," said Dover Selectboard member Victoria Capitani.
On Feb. 4, Zoning Administrator Dave Cerchio briefly discussed some of the changes that he would like to see. Adopting those changes was deferred until a future meeting so that meetings could be held to gather public input.
Cerchio said there would be two afternoon meetings. In the past, afternoon sessions had yielded more attendance than ones held at night.
The last time there was a major revision approved to the sign ordinances, Cerchio was asked to keep track of sandwich or movable signs. He reported there were 20 instances where signs were knocked over or left on the ground.
"I saw 20 but there were probably another 20 out there," he added.
Cerchio also mentioned that three individual people entered his office to complain about the excessive number of those kinds of signs. He told the board that his proposed changes would make the signs more aesthetically amenable to the public.
In previous years and under different ordinances, business owners were required to bring the movable signs inside once their business was closed. That was one idea that Cerchio mentioned to address the issue.
Another included citing individuals for signs being knocked over and allowing the signs to stay lying on the ground. He said the town could limit those signs to "only those businesses that do not have frontage on the road or in the right of way" or to limit the hours that the signs can be displayed. From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. was his plan, if others agreed to that idea.
"And of course we could just eliminate (allowing those signs). We're one of the few towns that allow sandwich signs," added Cerchio.
Business owner Adam Levine asked if the town was trying to respond to issues related to the signs or to the complaints. It was complaints that prompted the changes but Cerchio said it was primarily the aesthetics that came under his concern.
"The fact that they're laying on the ground. The number of signs are distracting. People leave the weight sandbags out. They're not well maintained," he cited as reasons. "When we approved the last sign ordinance, I was told to keep track, which I did faithfully, of those businesses that knocked the signs over. I also wrote a letter for voluntary compliance for people to brings signs in and not to knock over in times of extended closures. By and large, that hasn't been followed. Then again, it was voluntary compliance. No one's been cited."
Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk inquired about Cerchio's elimination of requiring written permission for off-site signs. He wondered how Cerchio would know if those fit the ordinances.
"Normally when there is a complaint, I follow through on it," he replied.
Business owner Phil Gilpin said the most common complaints he hears have to do with the condition and quality of the signs that are permitted.
"Is there anything in the ordinances about having to maintain the signs? Just having to travel for work a lot, it's amazing the lack of pride and quality of what's being hung. It makes the town look poor," he added.
Signs are supposed to be kept to a certain quality and maintained periodically, Cerchio said.
After the informational meetings, Terk asked that a firm proposal be made to the Selectboard regarding the changes.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.