To The Editor:
Woodbury’s current sign regulation, and perhaps the entire ordinance, would not withstand a court challenge. Any one type of speech, commercial or non-commercial but especially political, cannot be singled out for specific restrictive or exempted treatment.
But there is established case law that, if properly crafted, zoning laws can legally regulate any sign — as long as it passes the tests of being content neutral. In fact, the Supreme Court cases that have been repeatedly noted as defining the issue of signage and free speech clearly acknowledge that the community has a legitimate interest in aesthetics and the resultant economic impact in establishing signage regulations.
In Woodbury’s case, the long established historic district and main street design management would likely demonstrate such compelling interests in narrowly and carefully crafted sign regulations.
The Connecticut Constitution SEC. 5 prohibits laws which “curtail or restrain the liberty of speech” while Sec. 4 admonishes us to be “responsible for the abuse of that liberty”. But perhaps SEC 1 (hopefully and purposefully first) can guide us to a solution for the welfare of the residents, businesses, freedoms and values of our community as it states:
“All men when they form a social compact are equal in rights, and no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive public emoluments or privileges from the community.”
I urge our Zoning Commission to rewrite the signage regulations to represent what’s best for Woodbury. I further urge everyone who is interested in the aesthetic and economic interests of Woodbury, as well as our right to speak out without fear of reprisal, to attend the to make their views known.
Wayne Anderson, Woodbury