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Board of Adjustment Minutes 08/18/2010
CHICHESTER BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT MINUTES
AUGUST 18, 2010

Case #230A-Signs for Jesus requesting a variance to Article III, Section 3.18 to permit an electronic message sign on Map 4 Lot 168 located on Route 4  in the Commercial Village zone.

Members Present:  Mark McIntosh, Chairman; David Dobson; Richard Millette, Tom Wainwright; Mike Paveglio, ex-offico; Steve MacCleery, Alternate.

Others:  Fabrizio & Jennifer Cusson, Gary Cote, Donald Worster, Faye & Robert McAnney, Amy Adams, Karen Lingner, Trent Spiner, Allen Mayville, Michael Tierney, Jamie Pike, Thomas Jameson, Chet McPhail, Valerie Fradette, Vanessa Wiley, Joey Tucker, Walter Sanborn, Lucille Noel, Sally Kelly, Maurice Cusson.

Fab Cusson informed the board that he went to the Planning Board in July with a plan for his sign and was denied on three issues.  He explained that the proposed sign is simply a lighted sign which will not scroll, blink, or flutter; no different than any other lighted sign.  One scripture verse a day will be put up and he doesn’t want to change the letters by hand.  Under section 3.07 Signs, electronic message signs are not listed in the ordinance.  Under section 3.18 there is no mention of prohibiting electronic message signs, they may be permitted after a public hearing.  Prohibition is for blinking, fluttering, scrolling and moving signs.  His message will be lit and there will be power to the sign to control brightness.  He pointed out that there are many lit signs along Route 4.  His lot is located at a 4-way intersection in the commercial area, across from two gas stations with lit signs on poles.

Sally Kelly voiced her concerns with safety and the character of the words.

Fab said a smaller sign than the maximum allowable sq. ft. was being proposed and that long scriptures would not fit.  (4’6”x8’6”)

Lucille Noel was concerned with the looks of the sign versus the rural character of the town and would there be a way to modify it to fit into the small village atmosphere.

Fab stated he plans to have a fieldstone planter around it but that the village feel for this corner was long gone with the signs for gas stations being right across the street.

Valerie Fradette asked if anything else was going to be on the property.  She doesn’t want less small town atmosphere in this area.

Fab added that a small control room/office was planned for now but he did have plans to expand beyond Chichester and grow.  Real estate, banks restaurants etc. are permitted in this area, a small office building could be allowed.  One use for the property is a church that reaches out to the community which is what the sign will do.  Right now this is home base for Signs for Jesus.

Walter Sanborn stated that the zoning is clear.  We have a CI district and you can have a sign advertising your business.  A small office isn’t a business and off premise advertising signs are not allowed.

Fab said this variance deals with section 3.18, electronic signs.  This is an issue with lumination, glare, etc.

Tom Jameson said that the PB was not just concerned with illumination but with safety as well.  They don’t want drivers to be distracted.

Fab feels that is not a valid argument.  The sign will be static and dimly lit.  Drivers need to be responsible at all times.  He feels section 3.18 contradicts the PB’s site view regs.

BOARD DISCUSSION
  *Sign is LED, such as what the state uses along the highway.
  *Section 3.18 C. IV 1. States moving, fluttering, blinking, or flashing lights or signs and electronic message signs are prohibited.
  *This sign is presenting a message and they are prohibited but they are also here for a variance to allow this type of sign.
  *The purpose of the outdoor lighting needs to be looked at as well.
  *The message will change every day so it will be looked at every day; that could also be speculation.
  *Electronic message signs are prohibited, the BOA cannot change zoning.  We need the uniqueness of the lot before the board can consider this.
  *If the board determines this is not an electronic message sign, than a variance is not needed.
  *The top part of the sign is the business part.
  *A church in town has a message board with a brief message that can be seen all at once.  This proposed sign is more distracting with safety issues.

MOTION
Tom Wainwright moved to deny the requested variance to Article III, Section 3.18 by Signs for Jesus, Map 4 Lot 168, to permit an electronic message sign for the following reasons:
  1.  Granting the variance would be contrary to the public interest because it is a prohibited use.
  2.  The spirit of the ordinance would not be observed because the ordinance contains a restriction against the use of electronic message signs and this would violate the ordinance which states moving, fluttering, blinking, or flashing lights or signs and electronic message signs are prohibited.  The board cannot change zoning.
  3.  Granting the variance would not do substantial justice because of the distraction of reading the sign while driving and/or navigating the intersection in a very congested area.
  4.  The surrounding properties would not be diminished because there are no surrounding properties that would be directly impacted.
  5.  Owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship because:
  a.  There is a fair and substantial relationship between the general public purpose of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property because there is nothing unique about this property.
  b.  The proposed use is not a reasonable one because the ordinance specifically prohibits moving, fluttering, blinking, or flashing lights or signs and electronic message signs.  There are also concerns with safety as stated in Article I of the Chichester Zoning Ordinance.
Motion was seconded by Mike Paveglio.

VOTE ON MOTION
Richard Millette – Yes
Mark McIntosh – No
David Dobson – No
Tom Wainwright – Yes
Mike Paveglio – Yes.

Request is denied 3-2.

Respectfully submitted,

Holly MacCleery, Secretary

Mark McIntosh, Chairman
Chichester Board of Adjustment


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