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Sign ordinance workshop drew both business owners and suggestions

BUSINESSMAN VICTOR DROUIN points to a passage of Wolfeboro’s sign ordinance under discussion as Wolfeboro Selectman Chair Linda Murray (back to camera) and (l-r) Tod O’Dowd, Judy Sabanek, and Cheryl Martin listen intently at the Sept. 28 session hosted by the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce at the Wolfeboro Inn (Elissa Paquette photo). (click for larger version)
October 07, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Wolfeboro's sign ordinance received scrutiny by merchants and business owners on Tuesday evening, Sept. 28, at the Wolfeboro Inn.

Zach Tarter, president of the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce, directed small groups of participants to individual sections of the ordinance that were enlarged and attached to the walls in the function room downstairs. As they moved from one area to another, attendees read aloud, questioned and discussed the current rules on lettering, placement, size and illumination of signs and were able to examine a zoning district map reflecting modifications passed at the last town meeting.

Sticky notes of all colors – some with entire paragraphs describing objections, suggestions and observations – soon littered the large white poster size printouts for Chamber board members to collect and analyze.

Kathy Barnard and Stacie Jo Pope, chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the Wolfeboro Planning Board, wandered among the groups for the hour-long process to hear discussion and take notes.

"It was very proactive of the Chamber to hold that sessions," Barnard commented the next day.

"Basically Stacie and I were interested in more input for possible changes…a lot of the suggestions were consistent on the need for more clarity. People aren't sure of what they can and can't do. That issue needs to be addressed, otherwise it creates not very good feelings when they don't know what steps they can take," she elaborated.

Barnard said that it was evident to her that merchants want more flexibility, especially those downtown.

Judy Sabanek, owner of Emma Taylor, a Main Street clothing store for women, agreed that "the meeting was a good step in starting an open conversation," and said that she appreciated the town's and Chamber's participation. She also wished that more businesses had joined in the discussion.

In her view, "There are so many considerations and so many grandfathered situations that it's going to be extremely difficult to structure a sign ordinance that will be fair and equitable for everyone."

Tarter closed the meeting with appreciation to the Chamber's Executive Director Mary DeVries for her work in organizing the session. He also promised that the board will be collating the results soon and will share the outcome. The next Chamber board meeting is on Oct. 14.

The next planning board work session to address suggestions for changes to the sign ordinance is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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