SALEM — One of the proposed articles for the March town election would establish a more comprehensive ordinance for temporary signs placed by local nonprofits looking to promote special events.
The ordinance was drafted by Assistant Town Manager Leon Goodwin and Planning Director Ross Moldoff to help address issues that have arisen concerning temporary signs both on and off town property.
The ordinance would allow temporary signs for qualified nonprofits up to two weeks before special events that take place no more than twice per year. The signs could be placed without a permit from the town and would have to be taken down the day after the event.
The signs would not be allowed on fences or public right-of-ways.
The Planning Board will hold a hearing on the proposed warrant article early next year, but some board members have concerns about the ordinance.
Board Chairman Stephen Campbell said the ordinance would limit organizations that have made use of public signs in the past.
"What we're doing here is drawing an ordinance which prohibits a lot of things that have been held heretofore without objection," said Campbell. "If that's our intent and we're going to write this, then we need to enforce it."
Moldoff said he believes the ordinance actually broadens, not narrows, what is allowed for temporary signs in the town.
"Under the current ordinance, organizations are not allowed to have off-site signs," said Moldoff. "This allows them to have those types of signs."
Several board members brought up the example of off-site signs that have been used to advertise commercial events at Rockingham Park.
"Most of those signs are illegal and in the right-of-way," said Moldoff. "That is an enforcement issue. What we are trying to do is to allow certain events to have the use of off-site signs, which they can't do now."
Several board members brought up the issue of signs for the town's farmers market. Earlier this year, selectmen denied a request by the market to advertise with temporary signs in public right-of-ways.
Board member Ed DeClerq said the farmers market is applying for nonprofit status and if it gets that designation, could be eligible to place temporary signs around town provided they are not in the right-of-way.
Moldoff said, however, that the ordinance limits the temporary signs to special events that take place no more than twice per year.
"The farmers market we have now would not qualify," said Campbell."You are correct," said Moldoff, but added that the Planning Board could request that the ordinance increase or eliminate the section limiting the number of times an event could take place per year to be eligible for the temporary signs.