Commissioners talk signs with borough board

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From left, Burgess Robert Neth, Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, and Mayor Robert Mezzo listen to Zoning Commission Chair Joseph Savarese speak about proposed regulations for signs on borough property during Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting. –LUKE MARHSALL.

NAUGATUCK — Signs, signs, everywhere an illegal sign.

Zoning Commission Chair Joseph Savarese and Zoning Commissioner Sally Brouillet came before the Board of Mayor and Burgesses Tuesday night to discuss proposed regulations on business signs that the commission has been working on and guidance on how to proceed.

“One of the projects we’ve wanted to do is signage, but we have not been able to address it until recently,” Savarese said. “The bottom line is; does the borough want to be in the business of using its land for advertising space.”

Savarese said that there are always signs up near the Tuttle Building on Route 63. He also mentioned the Giuseppe’s restaurant sign, which has been a point of controversy ever since it went up.

He told the board that he felt the Adopt-a-Spot signs are a good idea since they all conform to a certain standard of size and how the company’s name is displayed. He felt that other signs, such as Giuseppe’s sign, used that model, but did not go about it the right way. He explained to the board that the sign did not receive approval from the Zoning Commission before it was put up.

“It’s beautiful and he keeps the ground well maintained, but there has been some conflict from other people saying why can’t I advertise there, why can’t I put something up there similar to that,” Savarese said. “We’re running into a situation now that is going to compromise the integrity of our zoning regulations.”

Brouillet heads a zoning sub-committee that looks into the condition of the signage throughout the borough, specifically focusing on Rubber Avenue, New Haven Road, Prospect Street, and Route 68.

“The rampage of illegal signs that are running up and down New Haven Road and Rubber Avenue has got to be brought into line,” Brouillet said.

She told the board that the signage placed around the borough is part of what defines its character.

“Historically, two things define a town; one is its schools and the second is its appearance,” Brouillet said.

She pointed out that there are rules against certain signs, which her subcommittee is reviewing and trying to make people comply with.

“We certainly don’t want to stop signage. That’s not the purpose of this,” Brouillet said.

She said that, in reworking these regulations, the borough will have a more comprehensive and complete understanding of what signs are legal and what can be done about illegal signs. She felt if the commission did not create and enforce these regulations, the borough could end up being a mess.

“If you don’t bring the signs into line … the whole place is going to look like a circus or it’s going to look like Tijuana,” Brouillet said.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said that he liked the work that the Zoning Commission had been doing on the new regulations. He also felt that the commission was taking into consideration the needs of the borough and the needs of businesses to advertise.

“I think the initiative is worth the process and the time and energy that’s been put into it,” Mezzo said. “There’s a lot of grey area between an aesthetically pleasing sign and trying to be a business friendly community, which are two simultaneous goals that we have.”

Burgess Ron San Angelo wondered if certain signs were even legal to put up and, if they were illegal, why the town did not simply go take them away. He felt that the signs that were placed by just being stuck in the ground could easily be removed.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary explained that the signs that were placed along state roads and along the exits and entrances to highways had to be removed by the state, not the borough.

“They’ve come down twice on New Haven Road already and cleaned up signs that were on state roads,” Macary said.

At the end of the meeting Macary, Savarese, and Brouillet felt they had enough guidance from the board to proceed with updating the new signage regulations.