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Businesses, Chamber Gain Victory in A-Frame Sign Moratorium

The Southington Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to place a moratorium on A-frame sign restrictions as they revamp regulations.

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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Gregory M September 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Oh, this is a step down for the downtown. It reeks of skank and will do nothing to promote businesses already known to exist. One thing the downtown merchants never want to come to terms with, but which does affect their marketability, is the lack of evening hours. Real retail has been open evenings everywhere else in the merchandising universe since --- well, I can't remember when. Folks, It's been a long time since Mom was home to take Junior for a pair of Buster Browns days or just on a Thursday night, and the merchants ought to wise up. The only reason downtown looks busy evenings now, is that all the merchants have given way to restaurants which DO stay open late every day. Now, thanks to the wisdom of Art Secondo and the merry elves of the Chamber, we can not only know that Subway is in town but can view several sandwich signs (no pun intended) impeding pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk -- the same classy Renaissance sidewalks that will not look like crap -- to enhance that reminder. What a cheesy, dumb idea.
Steve Kalkowski September 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Greg, Sorry you feel this way. Perhaps you would be willing to share some positive feedback with our P&Z Continuous Improvement sub-Committee on Monday evening during our next meeting. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested. Candidly, I doubt you will send an e-mail because I am not sure you even have any positive things to say anyway or are capable of that to begin with. I am fine with folks commenting on things here, but let's drop the personal attacks. I post here using my full name because I am very comfortable with people knowing what I am saying. Why don't you?
Glenn10 September 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM
One has to question why you would want Gregory to send you an email rather than just show up and state his case. Frankly, Steve, he raises a point and, perhaps embarrassing to you because it was discounted or not dealt with in the fury of battle, hasn't said anything foul or threatening; he has just called you up short as a public official. As a public official, I guess it's your job to be public about your name so I see nothing admirable about that. But I do question the need for a civil taxpayer/voter/resident to be all that public about their name in their commentary -- they are leaving a comment,that's all. Perhaps if our current elected officials were thinking of the townsfolk as a whole rather than special interest groups and lobyers, these pointed commentary would not be in the "Comments" section.
Steve Kalkowski September 23, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Glenn, I asked Greg to send me an e-mail so that I could provide him our P&Z Continuous Improvement sub-Committee meeting details for Monday evening since these meetings are not documented on the town site. You are welcome as well so you can share your feedback about these signs or the temporary sign regulations we are looking ot propose. Partnering with the Chamber in order to solicit the feedback from our business community is an effective approach as they represent a large number of business owners in town. However, temporary sign regulations are not just applicable to the business community. They will include non-profit organizations and election candidates to name a few. I am pleased, and certainly not embarassed, that we provided temporary relief for the A-Frame signs for our businesses until we approve new temporary sign regulations that will be clear, ensure the safety of our citizens and also allow the communication of specific events or services which is the intent of signs to begin with. Maybe you should consider attending a few town meetings to see if our elected officials are in fact thinking of our citizens in the course of doing their business. I think you have to admit that the Medical Marijuana regulations that we just recently passed during last Tuesdays P&Z meeting took into account the safety of our citizens.

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