LETTER: Voice Your Thoughts on Sign Bylaw
The Needham Council of Economic Advisors holding hearing for input on the sign bylaw.
The following is a letter to the editor on behalf of the Council of Economic Advisors:
On April 3rd at 8:00 a.m. in the Charles River Room at the Public Facilities Administration Building (500 Dedham Avenue) the Needham Council of Economic Advisors will hold a meeting to discuss the Sign By-Law amendments on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant. A copy of the article is available for public inspection at the Planning Office, 500 Dedham Avenue, Needham, MA. Interested persons are encouraged to attend the meeting and to make their views known to the Council. The Council in particular seeks the input and comments of the businesses community.
In addition to a few technical corrections, the amendments address various issues which have come up in recent years. The Town is currently studying the downtown streetscape and one of the amenities which has been sought is the allowance of street banners to announce Town-wide events (such as the Street Fair, Harvest Fair, and New Year’s Eve celebration). The amendment defines street banners, makes the Board of Selectmen the issuing Board, and specifies who might be entitled to the issuance of one. It restricts locations to those approved by the Board of Selectmen and dictates the temporary nature of such banners. The Board of Selectmen is also authorized to promulgate regulations regarding street banners.
The amendment also allows applicants who think they may or know they need a special permit for the sign they are seeking to go directly to the Building Inspector and either seek his guidance and/or arrange for the notice necessary for the hearing on such permit applicants. Presently special permit applicants are required to go the Design Review Board twice, even if they know they require a special permit. The amendment simplifies the procedure. It also makes clear that applicants must appear before the Design Review Board with their application, which has always been the practice but is not specified in the By-Law.
In addition, the amendment allows blade or projecting signs as of right even if such sign is a second sign. The amendment makes clear the rules regarding such signs, including size, illumination, and height. Under the amendment, although such blade signs may not materially obstruct neighboring signs or businesses and may not be internally illuminated, they are allowed by right. If the projecting sign is the only sign requested by an applicant, the sign may be seven (7) square feet by right. If the projecting sign is in addition to a sign on the façade, the sign maybe three (3) square feet by right. Projecting signs may have a maximum projection of four (4) feet from the wall and a minimum of eight (8) feet above the sidewalk.”
Finally, the amendment allows for the use of sandwich signs (which already but illegally dot the streetscape) which would be regulated per the By-Law in relation to design, size, location, hours of use, nature of advertising and illumination. Specifically, the rules are as follows:
“one sign per business; 2 feet by 3 feet maximum sign panel in a black colored frame; they are comprised of permanent printed sign panels or handwritten sign panels; they are located on the site of the advertised business’ street front on private property, or if on public property, do not block or interfere with the 48” width of the public sidewalk; they are on display during the business’operating hours only; they may advertise short term sales, daily menus, sign-up periods up to three weeks ahead of end date, and similar special events; they are not internally illuminated; and they do not contain any alcohol or cigarette advertisements.”
The CEA hopes to hear from you.
Devra G. Bailin, Needham Economic Development Director