Just Sign Here…

Yesterday, “06880” readers mourned the loss of 2 sycamore trees, on the Post Road between Starbucks and the diner.

(Some did, anyway. Other readers said “mind your own business.”)

Today’s post is about growing things. Specifically, advertising signs. They’re less than a mile from the felled trees, on the traffic island at the intersection of North Avenue and Long Lots.

North Avenue and Long Lots Road, Westport CT

An alert — but anonymous — “06880” reader writes:

There are 8 signs posted there, and it’s not even election season.

Doesn’t the town have rules against this? Only 2 of the signs are for school plays. Who enforces this? Can I make a few dozen signs for my business, and plant them all over town? What are the guidelines and penalties (if any) for placement of private signs on public land?

The reader continues:

I see a landscape company wanted to stand out from the crowd in the center island. So they put their ad right under the stop sign.

North  Avenue and Long Lotos Road, Westport CT

Hey — look on the bright side! They’re a landscaping company. At least they didn’t chop down the tree!

26 responses to “Just Sign Here…

  1. Like I’ve said before there is no enforcement from town hall! We need new leadership! Bye bye Gordo!

    • when people don't do their job well

      Is it Gordon’s job? I believe it is Larry Bradley who is asleep on enforcement. It is easier to do nothing then to fine or punish wrong doers.

  2. To answer your last sentence Dan…. Not Yet?

  3. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Oddly funny had the same thought as I drove around for the first time in a long while. The traffic island at Long Lots and North Ave is pretty bad too….. Lately I see the very nice ladies of Joy Ride abusing the landscape of Westport…. Seriously a bill should be sent to all violators for the time it takes to clean up the town of these signs.

    • If you see signs, just remove them and drop them off at the dump where the owners can go pick them up. That’s what happens after elections.

  4. Another 30 year resident ready to leave

    I second the motion. Goodbye Gordie, goodbye Elliot, goodbye Malloy. Hopefully not goodbye Westport. Unfortunately, if we could sell our undervalued homes, that’s the direction many of us are going.

  5. Sighs for Signs

    Does anyone remember, or care, about the sign regulations prior to 2009, then the change that was put forward in 2009 and then amended a year ago?

    In 2009 (?) the P&Z “temporarily” relaxed the sign town-wide regulations (which I think banned sidewalk advertising) in order to “help businesses cope with the recession”, I don’t think there was any such signs allowed before.

    To me, it seemed like a classically lop-sided benefit from the P&Z. Would signs increase spending? Was that good for the town? Did it make businesses and private properties more valuable? What was the cost of the degrading the look of the community? Do other towns have this many signs? Did it actually help anyone shop or sell? Did we not really know that a business was open at 3 in the afternoon?

    The results were entirely predictable. When a business (particularly non-local) got a chance to expand its footprint for free, they would, at the expense of anyone else. So the stick-in signs, banners and even roadside hawkers proliferated.

    But remember, this was a “temporary relaxation” in only a certain part of town.

    I don’t know that anyone actually measured the results or enforced size, visual impairment and quantity regulations. Certainly it didn’t look like anyone did, or that the town cared.

    Then in 2010 the P&Z was compelled to both make permanent the change and to increase the amount of sidewalk signs allowed because some businesses in a part of town felt that they didn’t get enough signs. So the P&Z asked for public comment. I and a few others put in pictures of how incredibly prolific in sign and quantity the signs had become and how businesses were then completely ignoring any restrictions. You can’t drive 50 yds down the Post Road without seeing multiple violations. There was no enforcement what so ever. And I don’t think there was any mechanism for any.

    So, despite public request that the P&Z come up with a basic cost-benefit justification of the then relaxed rules, and describe how to enforce them, they simply expanded the regs by making them permanent and covering more of the town.

    I believe they did throw in a requirement that the signs be hand lettered. How often do you see that? .

    (It would be great to allow pictures to be posted in the comments, because I am sure we all have our images of how this bad government has hurt our town,)

    • If people send me photos, I’m happy to run them in one post, a few days from now.

    • Our town government has hurt us a lot worse than signs. But I get what you’re saying. It is certainly one fraction of 1% of the problem at Town Hall.

      By the way, you mentioned Post Road. I don’t even think about signs on Post Road because it is – more or less – a “commercial” strip to me. I do think a mildly tempered anger over the smaller scenic streets is fair enough, though.

      • “Our town government has hurt us a lot worse than signs”
        C’mon, get a grip, buddy.

  6. Too many signs

    Actually ANY sign on State Roads or their Right of Way/easements (easements are around three feet off the paved surfaces) are in violation of State law. That includes political ones, hot tubs, setting Grout free*, charity walks or bike rides, etc. That includes ramps off 95 and the Merritt, the triangle of green at Rte 57/126, the Sherwood Isle Connector Please call the owners of the signs and remind them they are in violation of Connecticut law.
    *That Grout company owner is interesting. If you google the background/IP address, it seems he was found guilty of insurance fraud (public records). Nice guy.

  7. Two years ago, a similar article on signs, gained a majority of commentators in favor of the “country life” flavor of the signs.
    Now they want to storm Town Hall? Westport: town of debate
    and no action.

  8. Anonymous 23

    What about the “commercial” signs that are put on school property?

  9. Carl Addison Swanson

    I take them down myself. A little self-help goes a lot further than complaining.

    • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

      Sure CAS, its just as fun as youthful mischief but more socially responsible 😉

  10. This is an opportunity!!

    The town should have a deposit fee for a fixed time limited placement of business or political signs (read expiration dates- ie 10 days after election day, two or three week placements) based on the number a signs you want to place (one dollar a sign deposit).

    If you don’t take down your signs, the town will take the signs down and charge a fee for the service against the deposit.

    This even has the potential to be privatized to an entrepreneur for a fee!!

    Win/Win all around!

  11. We got plenty of government now which doesn’t work. That’s why there are so many signs there in the first place. In October, the signs will be mostly of the folks who run the government.

  12. Dan – As much as I agree with the problem of the signs, I think this blog needs some ground rules. One of them should be “don’t spread rumors that have nothing to do with the topic”. Don’t say things that could hurt someone’s business, unless it has to do with the quality of their work. I would prefer that a certain company didn’t park their van in public lots just for the sake of advertising. That’s my opinion. But is it possible that a claim of insurance fraud is going to far? Especially since it was a chiropractor with the same name who was convicted of insurance fraud? He careful what you say.

    • Too many signs

      Dear Anonymous, I agree with you, but when I searched this company when they had a prior name, our PUBLIC records had this info and it was really disappointing to learn the depth of character (or lack of) with simple google searches. Before anyone engages a company they should be fully aware of what is the background of the company and what they have done. http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2/comments/17686/
      I am not making this up.

      • Again, that is about another issue. While I certainly don’t condone what he did, that was a while ago and in a different business. I don’t know the man. Maybe he learned his lesson and is trying to lead a different life now. Unless he does poor work or cheats people now, I’m not sure why he should be publicly criticized for his past. People make mistakes. It is unfair to keep bringing them up. Likewise, people should do research on who they hire and decide for themselves who they work with.

    • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

      Anon, did you hear the one about the chiropractor who cracked his own case? Get it??? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  13. Jack Whittle

    This discussion would seem to benefit from some clarification regarding the local zoning regs regarding signs.

    First, the recently made permanent sign regulations (in 2012) related to “free standing portable signs” which must be hand drawn on chalk or eraser board, only displayed during business hours, pre-registered with the Zoning Deoartment, and can only be displayed in non-residence districts. (Section 33-5.3). This discussion does not seem to be about THESE signs, at least it doesn’t appear to be, although there was some allusion to the recently-enacted sign ordinance as being involved.

    Temporary signs as described in Section 33-5.1 seem to be the most relevant here (when discussing the signs that tend to show up in traffic islands). Note that “Temporary signs for public and charitable events which shall be removed after the publicized event” (33-5.1.3) and “Signs for political purposes” (33-5.1.4) are permitted.

    Hope this helps.

  14. Jamie Walsh

    Thanks for the facts Jack!

  15. Babette d'Yveine

    I find that they tend to cancel each other out. When I drive past a site with several signs, I can’t focus on any of them. And even though I’m a political animal, I wonder whether anyone has ever voted for a candidate because of a lawn or road sign.

  16. No signs in residential neighborhoods. Take them down and throw them away!