The minutes indicate that Planning Board Chairman Don Hawkins told the business owners the board’s job is to look for “consistency” in signage in its commercial districts. The idea is to have a sign ordinance that focuses on keeping the area looking good for everyone equally. Scores of sandwich boards and blade or flag signs along the highway aren’t the way, Hawkins said.
Selectman Aboul Khan, himself a Route 1 businesses owner and the selectmen’s representative to the Planning Board, said at the end of the discussion that the Planning Board felt satisfied with its sign ordinance as it was without alteration. However, the business owners were advised that filing a citizen’s petition for the upcoming warrant was an alternative that would place the issue before voters.
Another option is for owners to seek individual variances for the signage needs from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, citing hardship as a reason.
Building inspector Paul Garand, whose job it is to enforce Seabrook’s sign ordinance, said it’s hard to keep signs in check along the town’s business commercial districts. Constant checking is required, and when illegal signs are found, discussions with businesses owners take place or “friendly letters” go out to inform of sign violations.
In mid-December, about 20 sign notices went out to owners, including a number who had to blade signs. Since then, Garand said, all those who got the letters have complied with town regulations.
One citizen’s petition was submitted by Thomas O’Hara and 34 others and would allow blade signs on private property during business hours. The other petition, submitted by Planning Board alternate member Paula Wood and 34 others, would allow each town business one blade sign and one sandwich board during business hours.
This has been a busy year for warrant petition articles in Seabrook. Along with these two, there are eight other certified citizen’s petitions. They include the following: