To the Editor:
The Woodbury Zoning Commission is considering repealing its 12 square foot limit for political signs based on perceived violation of free speech. The argument that such limits are unconstitutional is for courts, not zoning commissions, to decide. The character of neighborhoods and safety of residents are two legitimate zoning reasons for keeping this limit.
Limiting the size of signs is one way to maintain the character and attractiveness of Woodbury. Repealing size requirements for political signs would subject residential neighborhoods to billboards promoting political messages. We limit the decibel level of audio messages to protect our environment; likewise, we should limit the “loudness” of visual messages to preserve that environment.
More important is safety. Removing size limits on political signs compounded by unrestricted placement and number could lead to any amount of gigantic lawn billboards that block sight lines from driveways and side streets. Do we need to run the risk of even one accident?
Free speech is not an unrestricted right. Shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater threatens the safety of others; incessantly broadcasting a message over loudspeakers in a quiet neighborhood late at night is offensive to others. Both are disallowed, and oversized political billboards in residential neighborhoods fit both categories. The current regulation of political signs strikes an appropriate balance by affording the right to share one’s opinion without violating the sensibilities and safety of others.
Twelve square feet is plenty. Repeal will open a Pandora’s Box threatening the appearance and safety of Woodbury. The Commission reportedly may even shield political signs from any zoning regulations, even illumination. Is this what residents want? If not, speak up before it’s too late.
William A. Monti, Woodbury
George Hale III, Woodbury
Editor's Note: George Hale is a selectman in Woodbury.