By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — After a paid lobbyist for sign manufacturers spoke at a public hearing last week, planning officials decided to table a vote on an updated sign ordinance until its next meeting.
Kenny Peskin, a lobbyist representing the Virginia-based International Sign Association, was the lone speaker during the board’s public hearing last week.
Peskin told planners he thought the updated ordinance and its language could be a bit more concise.
The lobbyist’s appearance before the board stirred up some questions.
Town Administrator John Anderson wanted to know why Peskin was there in the first place and who was paying to have him speak.
“I’m curious, who is the International Sign Association and who are you representing?” Anderson asked. “And how do we have the privilege of having someone from Alexandria, Virginia, telling us about our sign ordinance in the town of Derry?”
Peskin said he read about Derry’s sign ordinance and typically travels around the country to speak at local meetings where signs are being discussed.
“I do this somewhat regularly,” he said. “I am a paid lobbyist, but not paid by anyone to be here.”
He also said he doesn’t have any clients that do business in Derry, but does have connections in the state.
Peskin said he supports the town’s ordinance and proposed updates, but said some provisions could be made clearer to avoid any potential legal battles down the road.
He pointed out several places where he felt the language could be made better, including an abandoned sign ordinance allowing the town to take signs down if the business is vacant for more than 60 days.
Code enforcement officer Bob Mackey said he was not aware Peskin would be speaking at the hearing. He said with some new information brought to the board, it might be wise to postpone a vote until the board’s next meeting Jan. 16.
Once the Planning Board votes on the sign ordinance updates, it then goes to Town Council for a final vote.