To the Editor:
The Woodbury Zoning Commission recently viewed a photo of a political “billboard” four times the size of a pickup truck decorating a commercial property in Southbury. Sooner or later something like that behemoth could be on residential lawns in Woodbury if the commission repeals its regulation limiting the size of political signs. If the current regulation cannot stand, thoughtful revision, not radical repeal, should be considered.
The revision the commission saw in its recent workshop is a reasonable starting point. Political signs would be regulated according to the type of zoned district in which they appear. Where large signs are allowed, large political signs would be OK. In residential neighborhoods smaller signs would have to suffice. But there would be no political "billboards." The town attorney has written, “this proposed revision is as defensible as any other regulation would be,” and that it “seems to satisfy the principles of case law on the subject.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “It is common ground that governments may regulate the physical characteristics of signs — just as they can, within reasonable bounds and absent censorial purpose, regulate audible expression in its capacity as noise.”
If, however, allowing signage to “bellow” rather than “speak” is more important to some people than the character and appearance of Woodbury, they should at least consider safety. Setback limits on mega-signs, or gradations of size based on distance from the roadway (as is done in section 7.5.11 H) would preclude billboard-type signs from the edges or intersections of roads or from obscuring driveways. Preserving sightlines will prevent accidents.
The zoning commissioners are conscientious people who listen. Speak or write to them in support of a regulation that balances free speech with the rights of property and safety.
William A. Monti, Woodbury