Hooksett group tasked with simplifying sign ordinance
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN Union Leader Correspondent
Bass Pro Shops recently received a variance for the size of its sign from the planning board, a common occurrence that officials say has resulted in a committee to look at simplifying the town’s sign ordinance.
HOOKSETT — After hearing complaints from the business community regarding the complicated nature of the town’s sign ordinance, members of the Planning Board, Town Council, Zoning Board and Economic Development Committee have formed a Sign Committee with the intention of trying to simplify and redefine it.
Town Planner Jo Ann Duffy said the Sign Committee will host a public meeting Tuesday at the town hall and invites residents and business owners to share their concerns and what they would like to see changed.
“We have heard concerns from the business community that the sign ordinance restricts the size of their signs, so we want to hear from as many different sources as possible on this, because the more people who participate the better any recommendation the sign committee makes,” Duffy said.
Committee Chair Tom Walsh, who also sits on the Planning Board, said that the committee is only tasked with trying to fashion a recommendation for the Planning Board, and anything approved by the Planning Board would still need to be approved by voters in May for the changes to be adopted.
“I would absolutely like to see the sign ordinances simplified. The way it is set up signs are on the small size. I want the town to be business friendly through some positive changes, and this has been a topic of discussion for quite a while,” Walsh said.
Walsh said that considering so many variances have been granted to businesses asking to have bigger signs, like the recent variance granted to Bass Pro Shop, it became evident the ordinance needed a tune up.
Part of the business community’s complaint is that the current ordinance is complicated, Walsh said. Duffy explained that the ordinance is split into three articles, and different sections of town have different rules for signs.
“In a way it is both complicated and redundant, so we are looking into simplifying them,” Walsh said.
One change Duffy said the committee is sure to discuss is allowing the size of the sign to be dependent on the size of the building, as opposed to being based on location, like it is now.
For Tim Sullivan of the Hudson-based Barlo Signs International, hearing that any town in New Hampshire is working to simplify and make its sign ordinances more business friendly is music to his ears.
“It’s nice to hear that Hooksett is trying to do something about it. New Hampshire has some quirky sign ordinances, with some towns adopting sign ordinances not designed for their towns. There is a way to preserve the aesthetic of a town without hurting the businesses that operate in them,” Sullivan said.