.

Letter to the Editor: Do What's Best For Woodbury

This Woodbury resident urges the Zoning Commission to keep the town's best interests in mind when revising the signage regulations.

 

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

Sean M September 06, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I have attached the second legal opinion from the town attorney. Perhaps Wayne can explain why he knows better than the town attorney what to do.
Wayne Anderson September 07, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I'm not sure what Sean Murphy's 3 responses were about or even how they pertained to my letter, especially since what I wrote substantially agrees with him. But here's the point. My letter: 1) states that the current regulation regarding political signs is untenable. 2) urges that the Zoning Commission carefully consider and enact new regulations. 3) urges that the commissioners act in the best interests of the community. 4 urges the community to exercise its right to make its concerns known to the commission at the public hearing. Which of these points does Sean Murphy disagree with ?
Sean M September 07, 2012 at 02:47 PM
"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." This is not accurate. 1. Content neutral is a piece of the standard that is used by the courts. Just being content neutral is not enough. Read the case law Roberts furnished Zoning. 2. Aesthetics is not a substantial state standard established in CT. It is irrelevant what case law is used from other states because of the rights in the CT Constitution. If "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." is true then why did Atty Roberts advise doing what Mansfield did? Answer: your assessment is not consistent with counsel's advice. You do have the first paragraph correct: the current regulations would not withstand court action.
Sean M September 07, 2012 at 02:54 PM
As for your 4 comments, #2-Martin Overton drafted the proposed changes that were voted down in January in the back room with the former Planner. When you read all the relevant information from start to finish, it is clear Overton has decided that he runs the commission. He does not. Once the commission received all the relevant information, the majority decided to get rid of 7.5.10.I. It would have done so in 2011 had Overton not hid the proposed changes and the second legal opinion on it. The Commission did its job when Overton was stopped. There is a lot of information on this and your comments do not reflect reviewing most of it. I do not know if you read it and ignored it or did not read it at all or in part. #3-It is much more than what is in the best interest of the community. Elected officials must consider this and the rights of others. It is in the best interest of Woodbury to remove Martin Overton as chairman and I hope you will join me in this call. #4-Concerns are one thing. People have a right to speak in a public hearing. It is however their responsibility to know what they are talking about when dealing with legal matters. Every single one of these letters put up by the Democrats and their friends have had comments that directly contradict information Zoning has been given. The public should respect the time of the Zoning Commission by being up to speed on all relevant information before advising a course of action.
Sean M September 07, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I have asked for weeks for an alternative proposal that is consistent with advice given to Zoning. Richard Snider has not. The rest of the complainers have not. The town attorney has advised stop regulating political signs. If someone has a proposal that fits all the requirements, they should bring it forward immediately. Zoning knows there is a problem. Now there needs to be a solution.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »