Revamped sign regulations focus of hearing

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Signs that littered the sides of New Haven Road in Naugatuck, such as these outside the strip mall at 1183 New Haven Road have been removed since the Zoning Commission began cracking down on violators of sign regulations. -CONTRIBUTED
Signs that littered the sides of New Haven Road in Naugatuck, such as these outside the strip mall at 1183 New Haven Road have been removed since the Zoning Commission began cracking down on violators of sign regulations. -CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission will hold a hearing Wednesday on extensive updates to the regulations governing signs in the borough.

The new proposed rules, which have been in the works for more than a year, prohibit advertisements on borough property and change the standards for setbacks, sign heights and the number of signs allowed per lot.

“We want signage and signage is good,” said Zoning Commissioner Sally Brouillet, who spearheaded the effort to overhaul the borough’s sign regulations. “We want to control it because it’s getting out of hand. Some people are putting too many signs; they’re putting them wherever they feel like it.”

The zoning regulations do not mention signs on borough property, but a newly proposed rule would ban signs that advertise businesses from town-owned land. Signs that are part of the Adopt-A-Spot program, which carry the logos of sponsors, and signs announcing community events would be allowed after approval by the zoning enforcement officer, officials said.

The commission had been planning to revise the sign regulations for years, but was pushed into it after a Giuseppe’s Italian Pizzeria sign appeared on borough land in front of the Tuttle House in late 2011. The pizzeria had sponsored local resident Jim Miele to beautify the spot and Miele said he thought the sign was approved under the Adopt-A-Spot program.

The Beautification Committee, which runs the program, contends Miele was acting on his own and the sign is more than twice as large as Adopt-A-Spot rules allow.

A legal opinion from borough attorney N. Warren “Pete” Hess will be presented at Wednesday’s meeting detailing what should be done about the sign, which remains standing.

“Whatever he says, I’m going to do,” said Zoning Enforcement Officer Steve Macary.

The proposed regulations also specify that illuminated “Open” signs for businesses must not flash or contain any other words. They may not be larger than 20 inches by 10 inches and must be turned off when the business is closed.

Most free-standing signs in nonresidential districts would have a maximum height of 15 feet, including the pole.

Signs advertising businesses would be limited to the lot where the establishment does business, and only one advertising sign per business would be allowed, unless the building is more than 50 feet from the road.

The proposal contains specific regulations for gas stations and car dealerships. As many as three signs could be posted for tag sales while the sale is in progress.

Signs for grand openings and special events must be approved by the zoning enforcement officer under the proposed regulations. Political signs would have to be removed within a week after the election.

The new regulations also elaborate on the definition of a sign, which would include anything printed on a flag, awning, balloon or umbrella.

The commission will likely hold a hearing on the proposed regulations at monthly regular meetings until May or June, Macary said. Business owners who comply with current zoning regulations will be grandfathered in when the new regulations take effect, Macary said.

Macary, at the direction of the commission, is stepping up enforcement of the current sign regulations and has issued dozens of letters to businesses that have illegal flashing signs or signs too close to the road. He said businesses have complied and no one has been cited.

“New Haven Road looks much better now,” Macary said.