WALLINGFORD—The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zoning amendment Wednesday that allows advertising signs and banners on high school athletic fields.
A public hearing was held prior to the commission voting 4-0 to approve the amendment. Rocco Matarazzo, a commission alternate filling in for a regular commission member, abstained from voting. The commission initially discussed the amendment last month. School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said during last month’s meeting that high school athletic directors will provide oversight. Students will be involved in selling the ads. Money raised will be used for field maintenance. Menzo was not in attendance Wednesday.
The proposal to allow advertising on fields was originally discussed by the Town Council ordinance committee last year.
“This is a good opportunity for schools to raise money to support programs,” Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni told the commission while speaking during the public hearing.
Prior to making comments during the hearing, Town Councilor Craig Fishbein said he was speaking Wednesday not as a councilor, but as a resident. Fishbein said he was concerned with how much oversight the Board of Education has over advertising regulations. As part of the amendment, the commission voted to delegate all regulation of advertising to the Board of Education. Another proposal considered Wednesday night would have given the commission direct oversight over regulation.
“To adopt this you’re ceding all power to the Board of Education,” Fishbein said. “That can lead to problems.”
The amendment approved Wednesday does not allow advertising on fields operated by Parks and Recreation. When the department does look to go in a similar direction “you run the chance of having two different sets of rules,” Fishbein said.
Cervoni and Fishbein were the only residents to speak at the hearing. Jim Seichter, the commission’s chairman, said he agreed with Fishbein, but still voted to approve the amendment giving the Board of Education oversight.
The school system has the right to turn down an advertisement if the business does not comply with ethical standards. Town Planner Kacie Costello said the town’s zoning enforcement officer will handle any removal of improper signs.