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February 24. 2013 11:02PM

Windham voters have chance to change sign rules

WINDHAM - Voters at next month's polls will have the final say on several proposed changes to the town's sign ordinance.

The changes will appear on the March 12 town warrant as Amendment 6.

Margaret Crisler, chairman of the town's planning and zoning boards, said a positive vote on the amendment at next month's elections would mean a change in the permitting process for those seeking temporary signs.

Currently, temporary signs are permitted for 15 days and then can be renewed for another 15 days, for a total of 30 days.

"We have found that 30 days is what is customarily requested, resulting in more paperwork, staff time and red tape," Crisler said this week.

With that in mind, the proposed amendment would eliminate the 15-day permit period with renewal and set the temporary sign permit at 30 days with no renewal.

Civic groups and nonprofits would still have to obtain a temporary sign permit for their charitable events, but fees for such groups would be waived under the proposed amendment.

In addition, the proposed sign amendments would call for new definitions and change the regulation of business signs announcing "Coming Soon" and "Grand Re-opening."

As it stands now, businesses must ask for a variance from the zoning board to post these signs.

"This causes unnecessary hardship and expense for the businesses as well as the ZBA," Crisler said.

The new regulations would define size and location of these signs, as well as the time period they may be displayed. No permit would be required for these signs.

Another change proposed under the amended sign ordinance would define how long nonresidential "Open House" signs might be displayed.

A positive vote on the changes would limit such signs' postings to no more than 72 hours before the event.

Windham's elections will take place on Tuesday, March 12, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Windham High School.

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