WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williamstown Chamber of Commerce is requesting the town loosen its zoning to allow for sandwich board signs.

"This is really in direct response to the fairly large amount of enforcement that we had to do this summer against signs of this nature," Town Planner Andrew Groff said. "They were all over Spring Street."

Williamstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Civello told Sign Commission members Thursday she became aware of the issue through discussions with Groff and Town Manager Peter Fohlin.

"I solicited some feedback from my board whether or not I should pursue this, and they agreed that it was worthwhile," she said. "I sent out an inquiry to our chamber membership."

Business owners and community leaders expressed enthusiasm towards the idea, she said, as long as the signs were aesthetically pleasing.

Under current zoning, a sandwich board sign is only allowed for temporary use by a permit. A business is allowed one sign a year for 14 days. Nonprofit organizations can display a sandwich board on a greenspace off of Main Street.

But the placement of sandwich board signs on sidewalks, which are permitted in communities such as North Adams, are not allowed under the town’s current zoning.

Civello proposed the town bylaws be amended to permit seasonal use of standardized sandwich boards by local businesses. Under the proposed change, she said, signs could be displayed between the peak tourist season of May 1 and November 1.

In addition, sandwich boards would need to be removed at the end of each business day, placed only on private property, and not impede sidewalk traffic, she said.

In discussing the issue, members also agreed a business should only be allowed to use one sign.

Sign Commission member Timothy Hamilton stressed the need for uniformity, and suggested attaching items such as balloons to signs be prohibited. Hamilton also suggested a preference for chalkboards, as opposed to dry erase boards.

Sign Commission members gave Civello their blessing to work with Groff to draft a bylaw to potentially go before town meeting. The Commission set their next meeting for Feb. 27.

To reach Edward Damon:
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