Sandwich Sign Code Debate
By: Mary Stanley
Too many illegal signs, not enough enforcement of the sign code, and changing the code to allow for signs that are more visible were among the issues raised by a half dozen business owners who showed up at a Wednesday night workshop hosted by the economic development committee. The purpose of the workshop was to elicit input from business owners and members of the community before the EDC takes a run at rewriting the town’s sign code bylaws.
Joseph F. Giampietro of Town Neck Road, whose wife, Elizabeth C., owns Beth’s Special Teas on Jarves Street, said he has yet to put up a small sidewalk sign that has already been approved by the historic district committee.
“The overall square footage is what I have an issue with,” he said. Because the business name appears on the canopy on the front of the bakery, the historic committee would only allow a small second sign.
Cynthia M. Russell, vice chairman of the EDC, said that small signs, especially those that appear in a grouping, can be difficult to read, do not create the exposure that businesses need, and may even pose a danger for drivers.
“I’ve measured some signs and they are only five inches by 12 inches. There is no motorist who can see a sign [that size],” she said.
And, she added, the signs at Merchants Square are even smaller.
Signmaker and local business owner Paul J. White said there is no question that business owners want bigger signs but he said that is not the only issue to consider.
“I have made a living for 44 years making signs. Most business owners would like them to be bigger. Ladder signs, such as the one in front of Deer Crossing in Mashpee, are an accident waiting to happen. I am a firm believer in that the nicer you can make this town look, the more people will want to come. I was just speaking with somebody from South Carolina and they commented on the beauty of the signs in this town,” he said.
Mr. White went on to say that business owners also need to take responsibility for maintaining their signs.
“The town needs to be a pleasant place to look at,” he said.
Owner and operator of Agway of Sandwich on Route 6A Donna M. Kutil said the sign code bylaw needs to include allowances, so that business owners can hang a flag that advertises the business as being open.
“We all know the town shuts down at 5 PM and that the town is dead after Christmas. An open flag is very important to businesses, especially during the winter. An open flag is more visible. I would like for us to think about that,” she said.
She further suggested that some allowances be made for portable A-frame or sandwich board signs that promote an event or special sale.
“A-frame signs are beneficial to promote an event. You could put a time line on these signs, so that they would be allowed two or three days leading up to an event,” she suggested. “Small business don’t have a lot of advertising and marketing dollars,” she added.
But some business owners were concerned about the abuse of signs and the lack of enforcement of the sign code.
Owner of the Belfry Inne and Bistro and the Painted Lady Christopher G. Wilson, who was not at the meeting but sent a prepared statement to Sandwich Chamber of Commerce Director Kathleen M. Bavelock that said, “It is not the code; it is the uneven enforcement of the code.”
Michael Schmidt, owner of All Cape Hearing on Jarves Street, who also sent in a prepared statement, said there needs to be some rules regarding sandwich board signs.
Vicky T. Uminowicz, manager of Titicomb’s Bookshop, agreed, saying that while the “sandwich board signs are necessary for promoting an event, there should be some parameters about them.”
However, it was not just business owners weighing in on the sign code discussion. Barbara S. Shaner of Route 6A said she was impacted by the town’s sign code when she put her home up for sale a few years ago. She said the home has frontage on two streets, but the sign code only allowed for one sale sign to be put up on the property.
Resident Paul W. Schrader of Farmersville Road issued his concerns about the number of illegal signs that are put up around Sandwich and how they detract from the beauty and integrity of the town.
“Recently I complained to the selectmen about a company with no presence in Sandwich that was routinely posting 30 large colorful signs on property to which they had no right to use. Interestingly, the signs all read, ‘going out of business.’ When a community fails to regulate and control signage, community appearance deteriorates with corresponding loss of prestige and revenue. We must be very careful to maintain our image and not allow it to become blighted,” he said.
The EDC members said they have looked at signs in other towns, on Cape, off Cape, and even out of state. And they said that Williamsburg, Virginia, seems to have a handle on how to provide businesses with the needed exposure while maintaining the beauty and integrity of that historical town.
Chairman of the town Economic Development Committee Shawn P. Murray said it could be possible to include language in the bylaw that allows for lettering that measures five to six inches high, which is easy to read, but does not detract from the integrity of the town.
The EDC will take the recommendations and concerns expressed at the workshop and work them into a proposal to update the town’s sign code bylaw. That proposal will be forwarded to the board of selectmen for a vote. Ultimately, it will be up to voters to approve the changes.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.