West Redding Business District directional signs that were put up during the construction of the Simpaug bridge have been taken down after being found non-compliant with town zoning regulations.
Members of the business district told First Selectman Natalie Ketcham they felt cut off during the bridge construction, so temporary detour directional signs were erected to notify drivers of the location of the West Redding Business District.
The temporary signs were approved by police Chief Douglas Fuchs, acting as the town’s traffic authority.
After the bridge was complete in December, the business district signs are no longer covered by the traffic authority, said Robert Flanagan, zoning enforcement officer.
Ms. Ketcham had asked Mr. Flanagan and the Zoning Commission to discuss whether the signs fall under traffic authority jurisdiction or zoning during the Zoning Commission meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Gerry Casiello, commission chair, said the signs were approved by the traffic authority because they were temporary directional signs.
The commission then had to decide if the signs are now considered “essential” directional signs.
“If the commission feels that they are directional signs, then they’d be turned to the traffic authority and we’d have no control,” said Mr. Casiello. “I think it’d be a mistake to give blanket control. There are several centers to town, even though West Redding would be the most appropriate [for a sign].”
If the commission deemed the directional signs to be under the traffic authority jurisdiction, then any town center could erect signs without the commission’s approval, he said.
“We could end up with a hodgepodge of signs all over town,” said Joseph Ventricelli, vice chair. “I don’t think it should be handled by the traffic authority.”
With the agreement of commission members that the signs do not fall under traffic authority jurisdiction, commissioners then looked to see if the signs comply with zoning regulation 5.9.6, municipal signs.
The regulation says the town may erect a sign on its property, or private property, with the approval of the resident property owner, for municipal purposes. The design and size of the sign are then approved by the Board of Selectmen and Zoning Commission.
After reviewing the regulation, Mr. Casiello said it does not say anything about directional business signs, so the signs “don’t fit as currently written.”
Dotty DeLuca, a West Redding business owner, said the signs would be essential to have because people have a hard time finding the business district.
Mr. Casiello said the business owners may apply for a text amendment to the regulation to include directional business signs.
Ms. Ketcham said there would be no cost to re-erecting the signs because they already exist and the highway department would put them up.
There is currently one sign on Route 53 near Side Cut Road alerting drivers to the West Redding Business District. Ms. Ketcham said that is a state sign erected by the Department of Transportation because it is on a state road.