Disputed sign in Naugatuck taken down

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A portion of the island in front of the Naugatuck Senior Center and Tuttle House is still being landscaped by borough resident Jim Miele. A sign for Giuseppe's Italian Pizzeria that stood over the plants was removed over the weekend. –RA ARCHIVE
A portion of the island in front of the Naugatuck Senior Center and Tuttle House is still being landscaped by borough resident Jim Miele. A sign for Giuseppe’s Italian Pizzeria that stood over the plants was removed over the weekend. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — A much-debated sign for Giuseppe’s Italian Pizzeria disappeared over the weekend as suddenly as it appeared more than a year ago on borough-owned land downtown.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Steve Macary ordered the sign removed almost two months ago after the Zoning Commission voted to take action. The Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter next week.

The two- by four-foot sign materialized in late 2011 on the island in front of the Tuttle House, where Church and Meadow streets meet, nearly three miles from the pizzeria on New Haven Road. The sign stood over an area landscaped by borough resident Jim Miele, who said he thought he was participating in the Adopt-A-Spot program allowing businesses to sponsor landscaping on borough-owned land.

The official Adopt-A-Spot signs, however, are half as big as the Giuseppe’s sign and carry the Beautification Committee’s logo along with the sponsor’s name.

The sign generated complaints among business owners, who asked why their signs had to be less prominent. Linda Ramos, chairwoman of the Beautification Committee, denied Miele’s project was part of her program.

The dispute caused the Zoning Commission to begin an extensive overhaul of the borough’s sign regulations, which did not specifically prohibit advertising on borough land. The regulations did prohibit businesses from advertising on lots outside of their own, except in one district that does not include the island in front of the Tuttle building.

Signs must also be approved by the borough’s land use department, and an application had not been submitted for the Giuseppe’s sign.

Miele said he would continue to maintain the spot and that he had suggested officials place a red and gold “Welcome to Naugatuck” sign on it, like the signs that stand at various gateways into the borough. Instead of a hanging flap underneath with a business’s name, he wants one that says, “Home of proud veterans.”