Per Waitsfield’s sign ordinance, one of the purposes of the ordinance is to reduce the proliferation of signs “to protect the economic and scenic value of the town,” and “to prevent hazards to users of the roads.”
The ordinance also addresses portable signs or sandwich boards. Such signs are considered temporary and must not block entrances or sidewalks or obstruct traffic. They are to be removed when a business is not open and are limited to 14 days per calendar month or no more than 60 days per calendar year.
What then, is the scoop with all the sandwich board signs visible from one end of Waitsfield to the other? Some are there 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Recently one advertising cigarettes (illegal under Vermont and federal law) was removed.
The Valley Reporter reached out to Waitsfield planning and zoning administrator J.B. Weir to find out what is going on with semi-permanent temporary signage.
Weir said that he’s gotten inquiries from people with the same questions. He said that while the sign ordinance lays out guidelines for the use of sandwich board signs, many such signs popped up during the early months of the COVID pandemic and the town’s view on them may have been more lenient that it had in the past.
“Technically, off premises signs are prohibited and it does not seem like some establishments are abiding by that. Historically they haven’t been allowed to use them as they’re being used right now,” Weir said.
“It might be something for the planning commission to look into and it’s going to have to be enforced across the board,” he said.
Weir said that the town planning commission will be taking a dive into its bylaws – including the sign ordinance -- once its work on updating the Town Plan is done. He said he expects that will happen sometime next winter or spring. The town has received a grant for that work.
Regarding the current sandwich board sign situation, Weir said it probably could be reined in to a degree.
“Once you start going down that road of enforcement, it’s a long bumpy road and it can take up a lot of time,” he said.
Enforcement would fall to Wier.