Brattleboro Auto Mall's electronic sign can stay

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BRATTLEBORO >> Auto Mall will be allowed to keep its electronic sign after appealing an earlier determination by the zoning administrator.

"The (Development Review) Board found that the sign could remain," Zoning Administrator Brian Bannon said following Monday's hearing. "The property is subject to a prior site plan approval that included the sign. Automall understood their action as completing that site plan. The approved site plan permit had expired, but, under Section 121 of the Land Use Regulations, site plans that are substantially complete at the time the regulations were adopted (in November of 2015) do not need to be renewed to complete minor elements. The board found that the sign is a minor element of that larger project and didn't require a permit renewal to be installed."

Bannon did not initially issue a permit for the sign because it was not in accordance with current regulations. After hearing testimony at a DRB meeting in June, he reviewed documentation around event chronology and found the regulations would allow for the sign to remain on Putney Road. The section had to do with "vested interests."

Coming out of deliberative session, DRB Chairman James Valente said the board was unanimous in its decision to overturn Bannon's denial for the sign application. He noted that the Marble Dealership Realty had removed the existing sign during construction so the intention to replace it was always there.

At the previous meeting, Brattleboro Auto Mall General Manager Bob Gammon attributed the issue to confusion. He said the sign was purchased at a "substantial cost" and the installation process had been delayed.

"Our contention would be that if we did know that we didn't have that permit, we would have submitted the application when the statute was what it was," Gammon told the board. "Our intention from day one with our electronic sign was to use it for community service 75 percent of the time, non-profit stuff."

Currently, the sign features a message about the closure of the Elliot Street bridge.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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