Request for new Cumberland Farms sign up in the air


BELLOWS FALLS -- A woman working for Cumberland Farms Inc. said she is willing to withdraw a request for a new LED sign following concerns some abutters have made about its illumination potential outside the store at 154 Rockingham St.

Carolyn Parker, who works for the chain of convenience stores as an agent for the owner, attended Wednesday's meeting of the Rockingham Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment to discuss the possible alteration of an existing sign that advertises the price of gas at the business. Parker said she files requests for Cumberland Farms and attends public hearings on its behalf and told the Reformer she has proposed two alternatives to the current sign -- an LED one and what is known as a scroller, which contains mechanisms that change the numerical figures as necessary.

"We were proposing LED to start with but, feeling that it probably wouldn't be approved, we came in with the other option," she said after leaving the meeting.

Parker, who lives in Worcester, Mass., told the four board members present the Rockingham Street store's current sign must be changed manually, though 90 percent of Cumberland Farms locations have one that can be changed from within the building or from Framingham, Mass., where the chain is based.

During the meeting, board member Renee Vondle expressed concern over the size of the numbers of the two proposed signs. Parker said the numbers on an LED sign would be 18 inches in height -- the same as the figures on the current sign -- though those on a scroller would be 32 inches. She said she will contact Cumberland Farms to see if the concerns can be accommodated.

Zoning-Planning Administrator Ellen Howard said the planning commission must approve the requested changes because the Cumberland Farms store abuts a residential property and a residential zone.

Abutters Andrew Smith and wife Lynne Lewandowski also attended Wednesday's meeting to express their disapproval of the LED sign that had been proposed. Andrew Smith read a statement and requested the application not be approved. He said the business is flanked by residential buildings on the west, south and southwest sides.

"Enhancement of visual impact is the primary purpose of LED lighting in commercial signage, and not energy conservation. LED illumination sources are very concentrated," he said. "LED lighting used for internal lighting of signs effectively transforms conventional signage into advertising billboards that are visible from a great distance. LED signage, regardless of whether it is one color or many, dominates the nighttime view.

"Presently, passing motorists, even unfamiliar motorists, cannot help but notice Cumberland Farms," he continued. "Enhancement of the existing signage at 154 Rockingham St. is not needed."

Smith and Lewandowski believe the application does not respect the character of the community and will have a negative impact on the streetscape and present a distraction to motorists in a driving environment that is already complicated.

Parker said she was willing to take the LED option off the table immediately after hearing Smith's concerns.

Domenic Poli can be reached at, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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