GRAFTON, Mass. - The Sign Bylaw Committee is no more.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to dissolve the two-year-old board after a one hour debate with two members of the Planning Board and one from the now defunct bylaw committee. The Planning Board will assume future responsibilities.
Formed in 2010 to address the issue of electronic message boards that change every few seconds and can flash to draw attention to passing cars, it was hoped the bylaw committee would find the right words to appease two thirds of voters at Town Meeting while also supporting small business. But in the end, it created more confusion and no drafts that satisfied the Board of Selectmen.
Last night, Planning Board Chairman Stephen Qualey and member Robert Hassinger were joined by lone sign bylaw committee member Stephen Burke to regain the bylaws footing and determine where to head next.
Qualey recommended rewriting the entire bylaw so not to create more problems down the road, such how far apart business signs have to be spaced from one another. Hassinger and Burke recommended a partial rewrite that addressed the electronic signs and sandwich boards specifically, since they are hot topic items.
Hassinger also wants to form a Planning Sub-Committee that could include town residents who wish to have a voice in the matter.
“What is needed is to let the town speak,” he said.
The Board of Selectmen agreed that a partial rewrite would make more sense since creating a final result by an October meeting would be critical.
Existing businesses, including McKoul’s Cars in North Grafton who appealed to the Zoninbg Board for a variance June 1, are lining up to upgrade their outdated signs to the more attention getting message boards. The town began working on changing the bylaw in 2009 after the Grafton Suburban Credit Union first proposed their current sign. Since then, Koopman Lumber and Fitzy’s Car Wash have followed suit.
The Sign Bylaw Committee's latest rewrite was slated for a vote at the May Town Meeting but was passed over by the Board of Selectmen because of vague wording. It was the third time a sign bylaw has been passed over in the last four years.
Wording the new byline to satisfy residents might be tough. Comments posted yesterday on the Grafton Daily Voice expressed frustration that the town is focusing on this issue instead of more pressing needs like investing in new sidewalks and road improvements, while another worried that a too lax bylaw might create an eyesore similar to stretches of highway in Southern New Hampshire.