Planning Board Approves Sidewalk Sign Amendment

The Londonderry Planning Board unanimously voted to change the sign ordinance which does not allow “A”-frame signs to be displayed on sidewalks outside businesses. Led by the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center Director Kathy Wagner, the change comes after months of working with local businesses and the Town’s Planning Department. Wagner approached the department last fall to address local businesses’ concerns and since then has campaigned to change the ordinance.

Businesses inside multi-tenant buildings can now use "A"-frame signs on their sidewalks.

During a Public Hearing with the Planning Board on June 5, 2013, the sub-section to the sign ordinance below was approved, following input from both the Board members and the public.

3.11.6.1.12 “A”-Frame Sidewalk Signs – “A”-frame (sandwich board style) sidewalk signs may be used for individual tenants in multi-tenant commercial developments. Such signs shall be limited to a maximum frame dimensional size of 24″ X 36″, and placed on the storefront sidewalk of the establishment no further than 6 feet from the face of the building. Signs shall be displayed during normal business hours only. No permit shall be required for these signs.

Edible Arrangements in Londonderry displayed an "A"-frame sign on their sidewalk just days after the recommendation was approved.

Board member Al Sypek asked for clarification of “normal business hours”; Cynthia May, Town Planner, explained that no exact definition was given and that it could vary from business to business but would not pose an issue provided the business owner did not display the signs before the business opened or after it closed.

Town Councilor Tom Freda raised concern that there was “no language in the zoning ordinance that would differentiate between the proposed A-frame signs and freestanding signs, of which only one is allowed per parcel having frontage on a public right of way.” May explained that it is commonly understood that freestanding signs are to be permanent but an additional amendment could be added to that section to include the word “permanent”.

Upon asking for public input, Ann Chiampa questioned whether the distance from the face of the building could pose an impediment to handicap access on the sidewalks of the multi-tenant buildings. A discussion followed, which included the suggestion of adding clarifying language. Wagner acknowledged that this was a valid point, however it could be considered at a later date. John Laferriere and Laura El-Azem agreed that the Board should recommend the proposed language to the Town Council without delay for the sake of local business owners.

The Planning Board then voted 9-0-0 in favor of the recommendation, which has now been sent to the Town Council for review.

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