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Are Sign Laws Merchant-Unfriendly?

There has been little negative reaction to Barrington's sign ordinances since the issue was raised at the April meeting of the business association.

Do merchants think it is time to revisit Barrington’s sign ordinances or not?

The town’s sign ordinances, often viewed as less than friendly to merchants, became an issue at the April meeting of the Barrington Business Association. But since then the complaints levied at that meeting seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Holly Smith of , co-president of the business association, said at the May meeting of the association Tuesday night, that an email she distributed to members of the association brought no responses.

Smith said in her email: “We will meet with the Town of Barrington sometime in June. We would like to bring with us ideas, recommendations, and ‘war’ stories of getting proper signage in town. If you cannot attend the meeting, please email me with any information.”

As of Tuesday night’s meeting at on Maple Avenue, Smith said, she had not received a single idea, recommendation or war story.

“We want to bring grievances to Peter (DeAngelis), Bob Speaker and Phil Hervey,” she said. “We’ll talk to Peter first.”

DeAngelis, of course, is the Barrington town manager, Speaker is the building official and Hervey is the town planner.

There was some additional concern about signs raised again at Tuesday’s meeting, including what often seem like frivolous appearances before town boards, fees charged simply to make an appearance, legal fees for signs that often run into the thousands, and permitting.

The story of the Salon’s five-month wait to get a new sign after wind knocked down the old one also was brought up again by Smith.

The issue of revisiting signage actually was planted by Town Councilor Bill DeWitt at the April meeting. He said he thinks the current laws sometimes create unintended consequences.That sparked a host of responses.

Bill Dessel, owner of , said putting up a sign in Barrington “is one of the most unpleasant aspects of opening a business here.”

“We would all change the sign if we knew what can be done for the better,” he said. “It could be an easier process.”

Elaine Felag of in the Village Center plaza, said: “I had to be the same even after the fire. I could not change.”

Her women’s shop was burned out about a dozen years ago. She reopened with a bigger store but the same type of sign, she said.

Smith said in April: “I need a new sign but I’m afraid to go through the process.”

Lois Coppolino, owner of and the other co-president of the business group, said: “I haven’t changed my sign for that reason.”

Smith said she would send out another email to Barrington merchants asking for their grievances before approaching town officials. She does not want to push the issue if there simply is not sufficient concern.

Gary Morse May 09, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I'm sure the business community might argue that anything goes when we are promoting business. But I draw the line when things begin to look like vintage Rt 66 as some might promote (aka purple eyesores in the center of a business district - you know what I'm talking about). Yes, we need oversight!
B/STOCK May 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
When I first started attending town council meetings 11 years ago I felt the merchants had to go through a awful lot to get a sign. After enjoying the small town feeling of Barrington I am in total agreement with the current ordinances. I am an auto enthusiast and when I meet out of state people and mention I am from Barrington mostly everyone comments on what a beautiful town it is. Many Massachusetts clubs cruise through Barrington in route to Colt State Park and the wife's always mention the White Church, planters and the lack of offensive signage. The men think Barrington is the nicest leg of the MA to Colt State Park route. Barrington works so let's leave well enough alone. just my .02
Paula Anderson May 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM
The town IS lovely and as a business owner, I am not suggesting a "free for all" sign mentality either. However, I would like an approved venue to get out a temporary message. When my business sign saga appeared in The Barrington Times several years ago, I casually suggested a meeting of the minds by way of a town approved A'Frame type sign. Not the tacky instant switch letter type, but a particular A-Frame "Frame" in which the business would insert a professionally made sign delivering their message. To further ensure "town" continuity, the lettering on the inserts could also be a particular chosen font. Rather than drag the "cow" through the mud and go backwards, let's move forward and be conscientious to truly bring resolve to this matter for all our local businessmen and women.
mohamed j. freij May 10, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Without the great efforts of the town manager,the building official and the town planner this town will start to look like downtown Warren with the junk yard as the major attraction and the plastic live sized cows. As a small business owner I know you get much more business by the word of mouth and by providing great exceptional service. Yes the process of getting a sign replacement due to fire could be streamlined but we need to stop unlicensed truck mounted signs that degrade our neighborhood and lower property value.
native May 10, 2012 at 07:28 PM
The reason Ciao Bella and DK Fabrics waited so long for a new sign had nothing to do with the town. They waited for the ground to thaw.

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