No temporary business directional signs for steakhouse
Bethel selectmen Monday let stand a decision by Town Manager Doar to disallow the placement of temporary roadside directional signs on state roads for the Black Diamond Steakhouse, located on the Sunday River Road.
The steakhouse had asked for the signs as part of a request to the Maine Department of Transportation for similar signs in nearby towns, according to town officials.
The town administers signs on state roads in Bethel under an arrangement with MDOT.
But Bethel’s Committee for Sign Ordinance Reform is currently working to update the town’s sign ordinances, particularly those pertaining to roadside directional signs. Their proposal will be voted upon at the June town meeting.
The board had discussed the Black Diamond request at their February meeting, then asked Doar to survey other businesses on the road to see if they would want similar temporary signs.
Doar said Monday he did not contact businesses because “I didn’t know what policy direction the board wants – is this just something for the Sunday River Road?”
He said no businesses had contacted him on the issue.
Selectman Don Bennett, also a member of the CSOR, said he supported the temporary signs, noting that currently businesses on the Sunday River Road can only place a small sign on a kiosk at the intersection with Route 2.
“If you were a business on the Sunday River Road and had the opportunity to go to the state and have a sign in other towns and have continuity [in signage], rather than a sign at the end of the Sunday River Road that’s hard to read, you’d be trying to do something that’s helping your business,” he said. “The committee is trying to rework it so you’re not looking at a sign at the end of the road. You’re going to be looking at a sign that’s back a way, where you have some time to look at it where you don’t have to worry about traffic.”
A temporary sign, he said, might serve as an experiment for that plan until June.
Regarding the current kiosk, Bennett said, “there’s a reluctance on [the steakhouse owners’] part to share in the signage right there because they don’t believe it works.”
Doar said he was still concerned about the implications for other businesses of granting the request.
“There are an awful lot of interests there to try to appease,” he said.
And, he said, “I think it’s a bad idea, while the committee is working, to undermine that. They should be allowed to finish their work before we make any moves.”
The board ultimately voted 4-1 to allow Doar’s decision against the temporary signs to stand. Bennett voted in opposition.