To The Editor:
I wrote a acknowledging the fact that the current regulation regarding political signs, and perhaps more than that in the Zoning regulations, would not hold up in court and encouraging the community to speak out.
I was immediately and repeatedly told by a reply that I "did not know what I was talking about."
Just to be clear:I have read the Woodbury Zoning regulations pertaining to signsI have read the information available, the opinion of Attorney Roberts, his later letter, and the minutes of the Commission.
I have read the case law he refers to and have read a fair amount of additional information on the subject. I have read the Mansfield Zoning regulations, the ACLU press release, and the background to their issues, which had little relationship to Woodbury's issues.
I have read the few relevant published signage cases I could uncover in CT which no one has discussed.
In short, I believe I have covered just as much information to form my perspective as any one. Because we differ in our obviously well researched, considered, and supported conclusions does not make me "disrespectful," nor should it make me the subject of anyone else's "disrespect." You can disagree with my position but I would appreciate if you would not disparage it. I have not done so to anyone.
Just a couple more points.
Attorney Roberts did not "advise doing what Mansfield did." In the June 14, 2011, memo, after saying that the proposed revision language (subsequently rejected by the WZC) "seems to satisfy the case law" and "this proposed revision is as defensible as any other regulation would be", he also suggests "review" of "the Mansfield example as an alternative approach". Unless he wrote another memo, that is far from advice for what "should" happen. It took about 35 years for Mansfield to resolve its issues and if you read their regs now, they're still not very clear.
Atty. Roberts also said in his first memo (Nov 2010) that "The desire to avoid the visual assault associated with an over-abundance of lawn signs is understandable, but the protections afforded to political speech make it a very complicated and uncertain question". He also said that "...there is little guidance on how Connecticut courts would evaluate the federal and state constitutional protections available to such signs."
Clearly Atty Roberts is not overstating his expertise or his advice. So why does anyone else believe they have cornered the market on State and Federal constitutional certainty?
There is no question that the courts, if you read the written opinions, acknowledge the ability of a community to concern itself with the aesthetics, visual clutter and corresponding economic impact to the community.Yes, there are several legs to test: virtually every core precedent acknowledges this. Yes, it takes a clear presentation and proof of legitimate state interest — like a consistent approach to maintaining a historic district as an economic attraction to the town and as integral to its economic welfare — which I, and apparently others, believe is demonstrable, consistent and compelling in Woodbury.
Limiting the size and number of signs was clearly upheld in a Maine case (Fed District Court) for exactly the reasons I gave and have been offered by others. And a CT case did the same to uphold size limitations of a political sign on private property, in disturbingly similar circumstance to Woodbury.
Yes, I do not favor excluding political signs from all restriction. I believe they should be treated equally as with all other signage.
Yes, there has been a lot of mis-quoting and mis-representing the situation in letters and postings. And way too much personal agenda getting in the way of solving the real problem.
Yes, I believe this issue has taken far too long and gone off the rails too many times.
Yes, I believe Mr Overton could have moved this along better.
Yes, I believe the other commissioners also have had several opportunities to move this along, with or without Mr. Overton. However, only Mr Overton's name keeps coming up and as far as I can determine, he has only one vote on the commission.
Truly, everyone has had a hand in making this worse than it should be.
Yes, I believe it is up to the Commission to determine a solution. They ran for the position, were elected, and now have to do their best to serve our community.
Yes, I believe that the Commission should be willing to listen to anyone in the community — to discover what is right about what they say, not just try to prove them wrong.
This is no longer just about Tom Arras' sign just as it's no longer a partisan political issue even though it began as such several years ago. (For the record, I'm a registered Republican with strong Libertarian leanings.)
In some respects, agree with the method or not, Tom has shined a light on a much bigger community issue that needs to be resolved. This is now about fixing the rules for everyone to play by in town, equally. Some believe that there should be no rules on this matter. Others think differently. My opinion is that there is room for finding a community solution that addresses consistent rules for all non-commercial signs and I want to encourage the members of this community to speak out.
Respectfully to all who post below, it is not productive to continue this here, but at least we should agree to disagree civilly.
Wayne Anderson, Woodbury