, Derry, New Hampshire

January 16, 2014

Councilors OK Derry's new sign rules

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — All signs now point to a final document.

The Town Council gave its OK last week, voting 7-0 to approve an updated sign ordinance, putting an end to a long process after numerous workshops and public hearings were held over many months.

Now, upgraded requirements are clearer and more user-friendly, according to code enforcement officer Bob Mackey.

He said Derry’s sign rules were originally scattered all through the main zoning ordinance document. Now, they are specifically in one section and easier to find.

“This is cleaner,” Mackey said. “We consolidated everything into a main sign chapter.”

The Planning Board spent many months on the sign project, deciding what sizes and types of signs will be allowed.

Revisions include language upgrades and clearer definitions for different types of signs in various zones in town.

A lot of emphasis was put on the size of allowable real estate signs on both commercial and residential properties.

Many local businesses and real estate agencies gave valuable input, according to planning assistant Elizabeth Robidoux.

That included Steve Trefethen of Summerview Real Estate, known for its large, colorful real estate signs. Trefethen is a regular at many workshops and hearings.

Trefethen said he was satisfied with the results.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy with it,” he said.

Trefethen said he hardly missed a workshop or meeting when the sign ordinance was on the agenda. It was important, he said, for businesses like his to hear what was planned and how it might affect what he does.

“We appreciated his input,” Robidoux said. “Other people from sign companies and businesses also came and were very helpful.”

New rules say real estate signs cannot exceed 4 square feet in residential areas or 18 square feet in a nonresidential district. Real estate must be removed immediately after a sale, lease or rental.

Mackey said the document is strong and clearly spells out what’s allowed and what’s not.

More sign descriptions and definitions were included, Mackey said, and the updates also make it better for enforcement when there are potential problems.

“I think we got rid of all the bugs,” he said.

Some signs in town are grandfathered in under the new changes, Mackey said, but if a business closes, any remaining grandfathered sign would be taken down if they are non-compliant.

Yard sale signs will also not be allowed on town poles or properties, only on the land where the sale is being held. That may be a hard rule to enforce, Mackey said.

“That will be challenging,” he said. “But signs won’t be allowed on corner trees or poles.”

Trefethen said he’s happy rules are now in place to make sure signs are the right size and are placed correctly.

He credited Mackey for his hard work to put more regulations in place.

“The whole thing went well,” he said.

Planning director George Sioras said the ordinance will have all sign information in one place.

“You can go to one section and find everything there,” he said.