Bethel roadside directional sign ordinance detailed
At Monday night’s presentation of the proposed new Bethel roadside directional sign ordinance, Ron Savage used his own Black Diamond Steakhouse on the Sunday River Road as an illustration.
‘I’m allowed two [signs] on Route 2. That’s all I’m allowed,” he said.
Savage, a member of the Committee on Sign Ordinance Reform that came up with the proposal, was describing what some businesses situated off state routes and the Parkway would be able to do to direct motorists to their location, should voters approve the plan at their June 12 town meeting.
Those businesses would fall in the “town area,” one of three sign areas designated under the plan.
"Businesses are going to have to make a decision,” said Savage. ”They’re going to have to use their two to the best of their ability.”
About 30 people, mostly businesspeople, attended the presentation by the CSOR and the town’s sign consultant, David Raphael of LandWorks.
Interim Chairman Laurie Winsor and Raphael presented the key points of the proposed ordinance, which would replace current language, and the graphics that would go with it.
Winsor said businesses located right on the state highways and the Parkway would generally not qualify for directional signs.
“We did not feel it was appropriate to qualify them for a roadside directional sign because if we went in that direction, there would be signs everywhere,” she said.
She cited the proliferation of MDOT signs that prompted Bethel to go to its own system in the 1990s. But that system had recently been deemed too severe in its restrictions, prompting the committee’s work.
If the proposal is approved, the town would then conduct a “sign audit” to plan the transition from the current system to the new one.
Those at the presentation asked many questions, but there was no strong opposition to the proposal.
Proposed Bethel directional sign ordinance highlights
Types of sign areas
Highway: Lots with frontage on Routes 2, 5, 26, 35, 232 and Parkway.
Village: Lots with frontage on Main Street.
Town: All other lots.
Types of signs
Display standardized symbols, such as food service, lodging, fuel, trails, ski areas and shopping, to guide to areas within the town offering a cluster of services, destinations or facilities.
Roadside directional signs
Summary of some eligibility criteria:
Year-round and seasonal businesses, governmental and non-profits in the town sign area;
Year-round and seasonal destinations and businesses beyond Bethel boundaries;
Travelers must change direction from one public way to another to reach the destination or confirm travel in the correct direction;
Signs allowed only if all required changes in direction can be accomplished with the allowed number of signs under the ordinance;
Not eligible if have frontage with adequate visibility and area for sign placement and an entrance on Routes 2, 5, 26, 35, 232 and Parkway;
Those eligible can have no more than two primary signs within a 10-mile radius of each destination.
Placement of roadside directional signs: Signs must be located at least 200 feet in advance of key intersections where travelers must change directions or confirm travel in the right direction and 200 feet away from other traffic control devices. If more than three destinations must be included in advance of a single intersection, multiple sign assemblies shall be used, and shall be located at least 200 feet apart. Where 200 feet advance placement or separation is not physically possible, signs shall be located with the greatest distance in advance of the decision-making point as possible, or with the maximum separation possible between signs but not further than 2,500 feet in advance of the key intersection.
There will be some exceptions for hardship.
Sign requests will be processed in order of their receipt by the code enforcement officer. A sign fee will be charged.
Kiosks with directory listings and maps as constructed, installed and maintained by the town may provide space for identification of businesses, governmental and non-profits in Bethel and the area.
Definition of a “business:” a commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood and that has been assigned a tax identification number by the IRS.