SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 5, 2013

Selectmen crack down on signs

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — WENHAM — You can’t miss them driving through downtown: signs lining the corner of Main and Arbor streets.

The town has a two-page policy to determine what signs can be placed at what is known as the Car Barn Lot. But with many signs showing up illegally, selectmen are looking to revamp the policy.

“There have been recent comments about the number of signs on there and the fact that it appears to be somewhat unsightly,” said selectmen Chairman Ken Whittaker at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting. “There is a perception, perhaps, that it’s not being as carefully monitored or controlled as it should be.”

Town Administrator Mark Andrews said there is a process in place for organizations to place a sign at the corner, but he said that signs not approved are placed there on a regular basis.

“As I’m cutting down balloons on a Friday afternoon off of signs, there are people showing up with their yard sale signs,” Andrews said, adding that the town enforces the sign policy several times a week.

“I’ve been working closely with Chief Thomas Perkins to monitor this to make sure this policy — or whatever the board decides to have in place — is enforced to the degree it can be,” he said. “We try to respond as quickly as we can.”

Barbara Locke, a member of the Historic District Commission, said the policy needs to limit the number of signs and address duration, priority and enforcement.

“Enforcement is key or this is not going to work,” she said. “It is not a place that is respectful to the historic district or the historic nature of our town, and it’s because we’ve allowed it to perpetuate itself over many years.”

Whittaker recommended a cap of four signs. He will work with Andrews to develop a sticker to be placed on the signs that states when they need to be removed.

Selectman Jack Wilhelm said he agreed with the proposal and said two signs should be designated for municipal purposes, such as announcing water bans, Town Meeting or elections.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.