PZC hearing to address detached signs

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 19 about a proposed text change to local zoning regulations regarding detached signs at commercial businesses in town. The proposed changes seek shorter sign requirements and stricter regulations overall.

“A commission member had a desire to address what they thought were inconsistencies in detached signage regulations over time and also to look at framework to incentivize current sign owners to update and improve their sign aesthetics,” said director of planning and community development Rob Phillips.

A subcommittee of the PZC was formed, and their recommendations were presented to the PZC. The PZC then requested that staff initiate the zoning regulation modifications process.

The new language states, “Regulation with regard to detached signs are established with the intent to balance the need to protect the public safety and welfare, the need for a well maintained and attractive community, and the need for adequate identification, communication and advertising.”

If the proposal goes into effect, one detached sign per lot may be permitted in business and industrial zones. The new language would state the height of a detached sign shall not exceed 15 feet—formerly 24 feet—inclusive of the base. Additionally, such signs shall be located entirely within all property lines and outside the right-of-way or at least 10 feet from the street line when the property line is less than 10 feet from the street line, and shall in no case be more than 20 feet from the property or street line.

For businesses on a corner lot, one detached sign on each street is allowed. New regulations would state such signs shall be no greater than 10 feet in height and a combined area of no greater than 100 square feet in total if more than one detached sign is utilized on the entire property.

In a business center developed on a tract of land three acres or more in area, one sign may be erected along each right-of-way. Each sign shall not exceed 15 feet (formerly 24 feet) in height or 100 square feet in area. New regulations remove the fact that those signs could not display more than the name and the location of the business center.

A new section would be added for detached sign enhancement. Additional signage area for detached signs in existence as of the effective date of this section would be allowed for certain signs.

Existing signs with 100 percent opaque backgrounds would be eligible for area increases.

Enclosure of an existing detached sign pole would allow for sign area to be increased by 2.5 percent if the sign pole is enclosed or converted to an architectural feature.

Detached sign height may be increased by 10 percent in elevation over the existing height if the sign itself is enhanced with decorative trim.

“All regulation changes have outcomes—the desired ones and occasionally undesirable ones,” said Phillips. “The initiative here is to stimulate a more aesthetically pleasing signage framework in Southington.”

The public hearing will start at 7 p.m. at the municipal center. Since the proposal is a commission initiative and not an applicant, there are no statuary timelines to approve, modify or withdraw.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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