The Southington Planning and Zoning Commission sent a clear message this week that while they are concerned about doing the things the right way, the town is open for business.
Members of the commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to place a moratorium on a restriction against the use of A-frame signs, allowing local businesses to place them out in front of their stores and shops as the holiday shopping season quickly approaches.
It’s only a first step and the moratorium will end on Jan. 1, but members of the commission said it would allow time for the town to review the regulations regarding A-frame sign usage and develop a detailed plan that would both be fair to local business owners and help the town maintain a positive, attractive look and feel.
“We want to collaborate and show we support our businesses, but we need to put intelligent regulations into place to protect the town as well,” said Steve Kalkowski, a commission member and chairman of the continuous improvement subcommittee. “We will begin discussing this issue at Monday’s meeting.”
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The moratorium is a step in the right direction, according to Southington Chamber of Commerce President Art Secondo, but he agrees that there is still work to be done.
Secondo told members of the commission Tuesday that under the existing regulations, competitors or those not satisfied with a business can file a complaint that forces a business to take in their A-frame sign. In one case, however, there were nearly 20 signs within 100 feet of the business in any direction that were not removed, he said.
“This is a positive step in establishing a fair program and making sure all businesses in town have the chance to succeed,” Secondo said. “This is a big victory until regulations and enforcement are reviewed and addressed properly.”
Secondo, who was supported on Tuesday by chamber board member Al Monbaron, said the chamber has discussed the issue at length already and he presented the commission with a list of suggestions that included the following:
- Signs should be specific in size, traditionally two feet wide and no more than four feet tall.
- Signs are to be allowed from April to early November.
- Signs are to be removed at closing time.
- Signs are to be pertinent to the business only.
- Signs must not impede pedestrian or motorist traffic.
- The town shall regulate display of signs by requiring a permit subject to approval of the Southington zoning enforcement officer. This permit could come with a small fee.
Ron and Nancy Serafino, who own and operate Serafino Pharmacy on North Main Street, praised the commissions decision and said they believe it is the latest in a series of efforts over the past several years to begin making Southington more business friendly.
“The biggest problem with what is in place now is enforcement. They don’t have time to address every one, so they do so when a complaint comes in,” Nancy Serafino said. “They could very easily walk down the street with 20 copies of the citation, but that’s not the right way to go about business either.”
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