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Political signs a concern for Windham officials

WINDHAM — Town officials are torn over where to draw the line when it comes to political signs on public property.

During Monday night’s Windham Board of Selectmen meeting, board members agreed they don’t want to prevent folks from expressing themselves, but they may have to consider limiting signs in places like parks and public right-of-ways in the midst of this primary season.

“It’s an issue that’s taken on a life of its own,” Town Administrator David Sullivan said this week.

Sullivan noted that it’s hardly unusual to get phone calls about signs in the months leading up to a primary, but for some reason this year, folks have been particularly vocal on the matter.

“We’re definitely getting more calls this year,” the town administrator said.

Sullivan told the board that at this time, he was seeking “a simple affirmation from Selectmen saying that unless the signs pose a public safety issue, the board has no issues with signage.”

Board Vice Chairman Al Letizio said he generally doesn’t have a problem with the signs, but some of the “giant-sized” signs could pose problems if there are too many of them. “I think it really comes down to exercising good judgment,” Selectman Bruce Breton added. “We want to treat people with respect, but if we see abuse of this privilege, I think it would then be incumbent on us to pass a regulation.”

Sullivan noted that the town would be within its rights to remove signs that could pose a safety hazard, such as an 8-by-10 foot sign near a highway exit. Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he himself posted signs at Griffin Park while running for the board, but still felt some of the larger signs along Lowell Road “are a huge distraction” for passing motorists.

“Maybe we could limit residents to the smaller signs,” he suggested.

Board Chairman Ross McLeod said he took issue with having political signs posted in front of the town hall.

“It gives the impression that we’re endorsing certain candidates,” he said. “So my preference would be to avoid having these signs at the town hall or by parks and cemeteries.”

Selectman Joel Desilets said he’d seen about eight signs posted at Griffin Park earlier that day.

“I don’t have anything against those candidates, but we’re not just talking about one sign,” he said. The board agreed to take no official immediate action regulating signs, but agreed to be on the lookout for potential problems in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

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