Sign regulations to be re-examined

Now that the town has selected a new town counsel, the Planning and Zoning Commission is ready to re-examine the regulations that rule on the size, number and placement of signs for the business community.
The sign regulations were last reviewed nearly two years ago, but since that time a major U.S. legal case has surfaced regarding sign regulations in the town of Gilbert, Ariz., that has made planning commissions nationwide take notice, said Bob Nerney, the town’s planning director.
“The Supreme Court found that Gilbert, Arizona’s, sign ordinances were invalid, the reason being that they were not content neutral,” Nerney said. “So now many communities across the country are trying to re-examine their sign codes.”
The thought at the time Wilton last reviewed the sign ordinance was that the town was neither too strict nor too lenient, just sort of in the middle of the pack, Nerney said.
It’s a legal question as much as it is a planning question, though, so that is why Nerney waited for the new town counsel, Ira Bloom, to take office.
The ordinances run about 20 pages and cover the types of signs that are permitted, how tall they can be, and how far set back from the road they need to be.
Members of the Economic Development Commission will be asked to weigh in with their opinions as well, Nerney said.
“The Economic Development Commission may be looking at it from a different perspective,” Nerney said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will begin the study soon. First, the legal firm will look at the Arizona decision and the existing regulations, and identify any shortcomings that may exist.
“The EDC may have comments whereby they provide the input,” Nerney said. “We recognize that zoning regulations are written and administered through Planning and Zoning, but they are open to suggestions and comments and input to review any problems that exist, before we have recommendations.”
With regard to commercial and retail business, the EDC has identified the need to address signs from the standpoint of the actual availability to post signs, and also consistency across businesses in similar zoning districts, said Vivian Lee-Shiue, chairman of the EDC.
She said the EDC will form a working group that will examine sign regulations in similar towns and determine where Wilton has gaps, and how to address the gaps through changes in regulations.