Chester Planning Commission continues to hone sign regs

By Shawn Cunningham
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

In the absence of Tom Bock, Naomi Johnson took the chair of the Chester Planning Commission for its Monday, Jan. 26 meeting as the commission began reviewing the “definitions” section of the Unified Development Bylaws.

While the past several meetings were attended by a substantial number of business people and members of the general public, only Select Board member Bill Lindsay and a reporter populated the upstairs benches at Chester Town Hall. The commission is following an outline/timetable created by Julie Hance, executive assistant to the town manager. The outline lays out the timing and process of considering the sign regulations along with several amendments to the recently approved Unified Development Bylaws.

The panel began with the definition of a “sign” and quickly turned to questions of artwork as signs, vehicles as signs and whether or not a registered vehicle can be regulated as a sign and whether a display of products constitutes a sign. Zoning administrator Michael Normyle, who is charged with the tasks of permitting signs and regulating unpermitted signs, felt that artwork that contained letter, symbols and/or numbers that related to the business should be looked treated as signs. The development bylaws are here. The definitions section begins on page 73.

Looking at the sign regulations for a number of other towns’ ordinances for ideas, the commission decided to adopt the wording of Manchester’s sign law in defining soffit, window, residential, on-premise and off-premise signs. The commission also decided that merchandising in store windows is not a sign.

The commission decided to hold off until the next meeting to work on definitions for on- and off-premise signs, poster signs (which include yard sales, civic, religious, charitable, fraternal and political signs) as well as temporary signs.

Normyle also asked that the compliance section be added to the timeline and that wording regarding enforcement be considered by the commission.

A meeting had been scheduled for Monday Feb. 2, but was postponed due to a snowstorm. It is not clear how the postponement will affect the timetable and outline of work set by the commission. The current timetable (below) is subject to change.

Planning Commission Hearing schedule

Signs and amendments to development bylaws

All meetings are held on Mondays and will begin at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 556 Elm St.

  • Feb. 2  – Continue with definitions, begin general sign standards
  • Feb. 16  – Signs as they relate to zoning districts and speed limits. Consideration of amendments to Development Bylaws – Conditional uses, definitions, uses in each district.
  • March 16  – Special signs – temporary, sandwich boards, banners. Prohibited signs. Considerations of amendments to Development Bylaws – Properties located in two districts, reference to town plan, waiver language.
  • March 30 – Sign lighting (internally lit, inside a building.) Considerations of amendments to Development Bylaws – Site visit requirement, supplemental standards.
  • April 6 Considerations of amendments to Development Bylaws – Define building element, explain landscaping, “similar building patterns”
  • April 20 Considerations of amendments to Development Bylaws – Special criteria review.
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