September 30, 2013 04:23PM
By Jeff Gebeau
SOUTHINGTON — The town has an illegal sign problem, according to Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Robert Salka.
Salka said the only private signs that may be posted outside private property in Southington are those that will be up for a defined duration, such as political signs during campaign season and home service company signs during periods when the company is performing contracted work at a residential site.
Acting Town Planner Dave Lavallee provided more guidance on the subject. He said political signs may be posted for 90 days and may not exceed 24 square feet in size, while home service companies may put up one 1.5 by 2.5 feet sign per residential work site for the duration of a contracted assignment, plus one day.
Lavallee said signs advertising events sponsored by non-profit organizations, such as Relay For Life, may also be posted for a total of 30 days, but they must first be registered with the zoning enforcement officer.
The town filled the six-months-vacant office of zoning enforcement officer this week with the hire of Matthew A. Reimondo. During the interim period, Lavallee served as acting enforcement officer.
Salka said the town is having a particular problem with illegal signs being posted on telephone poles, especially ones that advertise a specific home buying service.
Commissioner Joseph Laporte said the home sale program company was not the only offender, however.
Other businesses, groups, and people have been improperly using utility poles to post notifications, he said.
At the board’s Sept. 24 meeting, commissioner Brian Wysong said he had recently driven a limited stretch of Queen Street and counted about 100 sign violations in the short span.
Salka said he will ask Reimondo, who begins his position Monday, to crack down on violations of municipal sign ordinances.
Lavallee said the typical enforcement procedure against sign violators is for Reimondo’s office to first send them a letter, then a cease and desist notice, and finally issue a fine.
Smaller signs on public property may simply be removed, however, and the owners notified to come and pick them up at Town Hall, he said.
Salka said he does not fault Lavallee for failing to target the sign violations because, until Reimondo’s hire, Lavallee was “wearing three hats,” by also serving as acting environmental land use planner, along with his two other interim posts, he said.
Lavallee said anyone who wants to post a sign within town limits should refer to section 13 of the zoning regulations posted on the town website. Planning and zoning officials are always willing to advise people on the issue if consulted, he added.