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Size of Dyn's proposed Millyard sign is sticking point for Manchester officials

New Hamsphire Union Leader

March 18. 2014 10:03PM
A rendering of the proposed Dyn sign that the company wants to place atop 150 Dow St. in the Manchester Millyard. (COURTESY)

MANCHESTER — The Internet performance company Dyn isn't giving up on efforts to put its name on a Millyard rooftop, even though city regulators last week turned down a sign that would have been nearly three times bigger than allowed by city ordinance.

The design is borrowed from the script of the Pandora Sweaters sign that graced the Millyard for decades, said Dyn Chief Operating Officer Gray Chynoweth.

"It was really keeping in spirit with the Millyard. It shows the heritage and a connection to the future," Chynoweth said Tuesday. He said the company is passionate about erecting a sign, and internal discussions are underway.

"We still want a sign. We've got to figure out how to come up with a sign that people believe," he said.

Last Thursday, the Zoning Board of Adjustment turned down a variance that would allow the sign on the roof of Dyn headquarters at 150 Dow St. The Manchester Heritage Commission had previously OK'd plans for the sign.

Designs called for letters of 24 feet in height, which would be 10 feet off the rooftop.

"The size of the sign is the problem," said William Bevelaqua, zoning board chairman. He suggested it be shrunk in half. City regulations say a sign can be 500 square feet in the Millyard; the Dyn sign was calculated at 1,470 square feet.

The rejection is about the first cold shoulder the high-tech company has received in its hometown. It is a major funder of Mayor Ted Gatsas' education initiative STEAM Ahead. Company leaders are intimately involved in projects such as Manchester Young Professionals Start-Up Challenge. And Dyn was ranked the fastest-growing privately held company in New Hampshire last year.

Chynoweth said the sign needs to be big in order to be seen from the highway. He said the lettering was adopted from a hand-lettered script of Pandora Sweaters owner May Gruber, who wrote out the Dyn name shortly before she died last year. The sign also includes the company's circle logo.

Chynoweth said it showcases the tech-heavy Millyard.

"It was a sign of progress, a sign of vibrancy. It was big on the past, big on the future," Chynoweth said.

However, the owner of the 540 Commercial St. building worried that one variance would lead to others, and the Millyard would end up looking like Coney Island.

"This is really not a sign; it's a billboard mounted on the roof of a building," he said. Michael Reed of Stebbins Commercial Properties said the sign would be an eyesore.

The vote against the variance was 4-1.

"No pun intended," said board member Michael E. Dupre, "this almost seems like a Pandora's Box."

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