Wilmington sign ordinance to get another review


WILMINGTON -- Before the Selectboard adopts a revised set of documents, which includes a sign ordinance, definitions and administration, it will meet with the Planning Commission to review sections that concerned members of the public.

"My head's still spinning," said Selectboard Chairman Jim Burke after comments were recorded during a public hearing on July 16 to address the sign ordinance and definitions that were rewritten by the Wilmington Planning Commission.

Creemee Stand owner Steve Adams did not see the purpose of requiring motor vehicles with signage to have licenses. In the provision, it states that these motor vehicles must be licensed, registered, inspected and in current and frequent use as a vehicle. He said it would be difficult to enforce.

"The state law does allow you to restrict vehicles from being essentially parked and used as a sign," said Planning Commission Chairwoman Wendy Manners in an interview. "The issue we have to grapple with is how frequently the vehicle has to be in use."

Nicki Steel gave additional input on the revisions. She had experience with zoning documents as she was a member of the Development Review Board. Before the hearing, the commission collected her comments and referenced it while in work sessions, calling it the "Nicki list."

One subject -- discussed when the Reardon footbridge was under scrutiny from Agency of Natural Resource -- came up again at the hearing. Selectboard Chairman Jim Burke said the town was advised that town projects could not be denied permission from the DRB.

"I think there may be instances where there's town projects that may not go in the same review as other projects. I believe wherever possible a town project should be held to the same standard," said Steel. "Philosophically, I have an issue. There's that separation between roles of government. The Selectboard doesn't have the authority to tell the DRB it can't (deny a project). It's quasi-judicial and a separate entity than town government."

Burke said the matter would be looked into again.

Former Selectboard member Tom Consolino advised that the Selectboard had to decide whether the comments warranted minor changes, which could be performed by the board. If changes were deemed substantial, then the documents would have to go back to the commission and another public hearing would have to be warned in order to consider adopting the documents.

Manners told the Reformer the document's adoption would depend on how the decision making process turns out at an upcoming meeting.

"I would not be surprised if we ended up with substanial change but it's premature to know at this point," she said.

The board and commission will have a joint meeting to address comments made during the public hearing an hour before the special meeting scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m., which was warned for discussing the lakeshore protection bill passed during the last legislative session.

Four bodies of water in town are large enough to fall under the new law that seeks to discourage development too close to the shoreline as it causes run-off. However, not all four bodies will necessarily require permitting.

Harriman Reservoir, or Lake Whitingham, is owned by TransCanada. The company does not allow development along the shores. Another body that won't be affected much by the law is Haystack Pond.

Administrative Assistant Mary Towne said it was difficult finding contact information for the association representing Spruce Lake. Representatives from Lake Raponda confirmed they would be there.

Senator Bob Hartwell will also attend the meeting. He has kept the board updated on matters related to the bill before and after it was passed.

Although he will not seek another term, Hartwell volunteered to assist the town with deciding whether it wants to handle permitting or leave it up to ANR. The purpose of this special meeting is for the Selectboard to seek public opinion in order to make that decision, Murphy told the Reformer.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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