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Derry planners told sign rules are not in touch with the times

Union Leader Correspondent

January 30. 2013 9:55PM

DERRY - When the planning board continues the public hearing on revisions to the town's sign policy on Feb. 20, it will likely include new language related to electronic signs.

The planning board has been holding workshop meetings over the past year in the effort to streamline and simplify the sign ordinances in town. Once approved by the planning board, the sign ordinance will then go to the town council for final approval.

During the public hearing on the regulations earlier this week, Peter March of New Hampshire Signs in Londonderry recommended some changes in the regulations, especially as it relates to new technology in electronic signs.

March said the electronic signs allowed under the new regulations amounted to little more than electronic message boards replacing static text signs. He said the town should consider language that would allow for more varied electronic signs, while still ensuring the signs were not overly bright or distracting.

"Technology has moved forward very rapidly, and the technology is now used as an alternative to regular sign faces," said March. "There are color units that are used as graphic alternatives to regular sign faces rather than something that is an alternative to a reader board."

March said he feels sign regulations that do not properly address electronic signs would leave the code behind the technology.

He said the regulations could be written so that it would limit flashing displays, moving animations, and brightness.

Town Administrator John Anderson suggested March put some of his ideas in writing and present them to town code enforcement officer Robert Mackey.

Mackey said under the regulations, electronic signs will only be allowed in the town's general commercial and industrial zones.

"Those are the only really heavy commercial areas of town," said Mackey. "The thought is to allow some new technology, but to do it in baby steps."

Mackey also said the regulations do provide proper provisions for enforcement.

"We have enough power to make corrections in some areas where it's necessary," he said.

The public hearing is scheduled to continue at the planning board's next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20. If the regulations are approved by the board, they will be forwarded to the Town Council.

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