By Ed Harris
The Planning & Zoning Commission has recently decided to let a six-month pilot program on A-frame signs elapse. Business owners are no longer allowed to use the signs along the roadway, though it is still legal to use them in places away from the road, like internal sidewalks.
“We felt that the sixth month pilot was not successful,” said Zoning Commission member Stephen Kalkowski. Kalkowski chaired the commission’s subcommittee that dealt with A-frame sign regulations.
Kalkowski said the zoning commission has not had regulations on the books for temporary signage, the designation where A-frames, also known as sandwich board signs, would fall into.
“Businesses are starting to use that medium more and more,” Kalkowski said of the signage.
The temporary sign regulations were worked out with input from the Southington Chamber of Commerce. Chamber officials assured the zoning commission that they would do their best to get word out on the regulations to member businesses.
A fee of $25 was included for the application process for the signs and for the additional enforcement required for the temporary signs.
The commission cited three reasons for letting the pilot period end.
First, the commission said most of the signs were not following regulations and business owners were not coming in for applications for the signs.
Secondly, the commission said the signs are not being brought in from the roadway at night and regulations were not being followed.
Thirdly, the commission said it felt that the Southington Chamber of Commerce did not appear as if it was helping the town educate the business community regarding the signs, the temporary regulations and with enforcement.
“The chamber did what it could to get member businesses to comply with new regulations that, unfortunately, were somewhat restrictive,” said Southington Chamber of Commerce President Art Secondo. “Business owners were to be allowed 82 days to have signs near the road and had to pay a registration fee for the first time ever. The fee process just didn’t work and many of these signs are not put on display by chamber members. We did our best to get the word out about these new regulations, but it apparently wasn’t good enough. Now, the town has taken a step backwards and technically the signs are illegal.”
The town does not currently have a zoning enforcement officer and businesses will likely not be cited for the signs until the position is filled.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Michael DelSanto said the commission would take another look at the regulations. He stated that the commission did not want to hurt businesses in town, but said that he felt the signage was out of control.
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” DelSanto said. “We’ll try to figure something out.”