August 18, 2005
Sign Regulations a
Hot Topic for Business Owners
Business identification is easily visible in most towns.
But then, most towns are up to “current times” with the
kinds of signage widely used by most businesses – which
includes anything from neon to lighted overhead signs
that make a business stand out. Signs create a lasting
impression. But the Town’s signage regulations for
Marlborough businesses may be leaving the wrong
impression - or no impression at all.
Many signs are not visible because they are too far away
from the street. That was a topic of discussion at the
August Marlborough Business Association (MBA) meeting
and is becoming a hot topic amongst many business
owners. The three areas specifically addressed were neon
signs, internal illumination, and the overall size of
signs. As Towns differ in the rules determined for
business signage, it mostly depends on the town size,
zoning, and the size of the sign – to name a just a few
requirements. In Marlborough, there are numerous types
of prohibited signs – a regulation that needs to be
“Marlborough needs to get with the times when it comes
to signs,” one member said at the August meeting.
For Marlborough, examples of prohibited signs include
billboards, streamers, pennants, spinners, or object
three-dimensional signs. In fact, with the many
regulations, it is often confusing to fully understand
what is acceptable and what is not.
||Zoning Commission Members
Don Neary and Scott Miller were in
attendance at the meeting to hear the
business community's concerns first hand.
Members want to know how to best take
advantage of signage that sells products or
services of community businesses. Director
of Planning, Peter Hughes, provided an
update and stated that signage for the Town
Center Plan is in progress and he is working
with ABD Architects out of New Haven and
Meriden. Regulations for signs will change
and the Town, which has 384 commercial
acres, is trying to create flexibility.
Peter also mentioned a change in setbacks.
Buildings currently are set at 50 ft. from
the street, but this is a drawback that may
change in the future to 0-5 ft. allowing for
more sign visibility.
Planning, Peter Hughes
The STEAP grant will provide $275,000 toward
the sidewalk project. Another grant of
$500,000 will be pursued to continue the
sidewalk project to the center of town.
Peter stated that temporary business signs have been
somewhat of a sore subject and opinions often vary on
what is required for temporary signage. Businesses will
have to come to some understanding of temporary signs
and its requirements. Some businesses will have
different requirements – the need for some businesses
for temporary signage is valid.
“I don’t think we should get rid of them,” Peter said.
“Temporary signs are important to many businesses. For
some, businesses are set back and without these signs,
customer business is seriously lost,” Peter said.
A few businesses use neon signs to advertise. The
proliferation of A-frame style signs in the Town center
is a problem - Peter and the Zoning Commission have
agreed in the past that the Commission and the
Marlborough Business Association need to determine a way
to solve it. That commission is working on an ordinance
with regard to signs and other towns are being checked
into for use as a model.
Peter added that the town needs to “zone for what you
want – not for what you don’t want. If you zone for what
you don’t want, you won’t get what you do want,” he
Peter further stated that it is important to think about
the size and illumination of business signage to bring
forth to commission members. The Zoning Commission will
then make decisions on use of signs and regulations.
Internally, Town Hall is meeting with Community
Development Advisory Commission (CDAC) and the Economic
Development Commission (EDC) to further discuss these
issues. Additionally, it is important to provide
feedback to Don Kuerner on what business owners would
like in the way of signs and what the commission needs
to address. Ultimately, the goal is to have everything
in place by Fall. The Town will move forward with
regulations, public hearings at that time.
Peter added, “We’ll try to make it as open communication
In the meantime, the MBA community is urged to provide
input and feedback on their business signage needs.
There will be several ongoing meetings throughout the
year that will clarify and streamline the sign
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