FARMINGTON — Residents on Tuesday night voted 2-32 against changes to the Sign Ordinance.
An article to spend up to $40,000 on the first of five lease purchase payment for a new front-end loader passed at the special town meeting at the Community Center.
The proposed sign changes would have required business applications for a temporary sign for no more than 30 days per year to advertise a new product, service or as part of a franchise promotion. The business would be limited to one banner per 100 linear feet of road frontage. The banner could not exceed 30 square feet in size. These would include “feather” banners, which are vertical, free-standing and pole mounted.
Holding a temporary sign produced by Coca-Cola, Bussie York said he had concerns as a small business owner about the proposed wording for temporary signs.
Signs are used for the fall corn maze at Sandy River Farm, he said. They are inexpensive and not unattractive but are up 45 days, he said. Churches use the signs to advertise suppers, he added.
“The way it reads I’ll no longer be able to advertise the maze for the last two weeks,” he said. “It will seriously impact me.”
The change would regulate an excessive number of temporary signs within a short frontage of a business, Town Manager Richard Davis said.
York suggested the wording be made more clear and precise.
“Let’s not do anything that would defeat some small businesses who survive because of signs,” he said.
Other residents and small business owners agreed.
“As a small community trying to grow,” one woman said, “I don’t understand why it’s an issue.”
The change is an attempt to be fair, Davis said. Everyone would be allowed so many signs on so many feet.
The Sign Ordinance has been in place for several years, he said. All signs are regulated. The proposed amendments would bring the new type of signage under regulation so they do not become a nuisance or clutter.
Small businesses need the signs to help them survive, another resident suggested. “I don’t mind seeing a few signs rather than empty storefronts,” he said.
Feather signs are now more durable so they are not all temporary, another resident said. Some are built to last for a long time, he added.
Some selectmen questioned what changes are wanted and needed to give town staff the authority to act when the signs were torn, tattered and overdone.
No one appeared to object to a change that would have limited signs in four traffic islands.
On the issue of the loader, voters approved money to replace the 1989 Caterpillar that recently failed and needed the transmission repaired for $20,000. Voters were asked to approve using money from the unassigned fund balance for the first down payment.
The rest of the nearly $150,000 cost is expected to be included in next year’s budget.