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Woodbury Continues Hearing on Sign Regulations

How much should political signs be regulated in Woodbury?

 

To what degree should signs be regulated? That's the question on residents' minds as zoning regulations are up for revision.

Free speech and Woodbury's character were discussed often at the Tuesday, Nov. 13, Zoning Commission meeting at the Senior Community Center. The public hearing on zoning regulation revisions was continued until the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, meeting.

Bill Monti expressed concerns about compromising the town's character if the language regulating political signs is removed completely from the zoning regulations.

He said he hopes the regulations contain language limiting the size of signs. A maximum signage of 12 square feet is sufficient, Monti said.

"Repeal is just a bad idea that weaves a tangled web," he said.

Tom Arras does not support limiting signage in town. He said once rights are taken away, they don't easily return.

"There was a little Austrian gentleman who did this in the '30s," he said. "It did not work out very well for the rest of the world."

First Selectman Gerald "Jerry" Stomski weighed in too, but not in favor or against regulating political signs or any other zoning revisions. The Zoning Commission could face challenges based on its decision, he said.

"The reason why I'm standing here is because no matter what you decide here, we may take [on] some kind of legal challenge," he said, and reminded commissioners to do their due diligence, as it's taxpayer dollars that pay for legal counsel.

'Do the Right Thing'

Stomski also noted that a degree of self-governance is helpful.

"If we could learn to govern ourselves and do the right thing, we wouldn't have government telling us what to do."

Voice of Reason November 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Bravo First Selectman Stomski. It's quite refreshing to find an official suggesting to govern ourselves rather than relying on Government. Repeal is a bad idea? I'd remind Former Commission Member Bill Monti that Woodbury existed for hundreds of years without any specific Political sign regulations; up until 1996. Woodbury has had larger Political signs erected for many decades and they were never an issue until the recent Overton/Arras protest. What I've gleaned from public opinion is that should the regulation be left on the books and subsequently enforced, that legal action is likely. Taking into account the State Constitution and lack of case law on the subject there is no guarantee that the Town will win either, but it will definitely cost taxpayers. Two years and not a legitimate supportive argument to come forward. Visual clutter is subjective. An HOA (GLPA) is not a Town. No sign has been mentioned as cause of accident (safety issue) (though those folding signs lining Main Street-Everyday do block the sight line at times, businesses should consider this when erecting them). Nope, no legitimate argument.
Sean M November 14, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The Democrats have been the major advocates for continued restrictions on political signs. They complain about the Republicans but break the rules themselves. The CT Constitution is clear: Article 1, sections 4 and 5. SEC. 4. Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. SEC. 5. No law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain the liberty of speech or of the press. There are instances where government can limit political speech. The standards were given to the zoning commission in a large packet in April 2012. Examples where limiting is acceptable: safety (blocking a line of sight) that can be addressed under Regulation 1.3.1.4 light up/neon signs those are prohibited under Regulation 7.5.9 As I said, those concerns are very valid, but not an issue. The rest of the complaints (almost exclusively by Democrats, including their town committee members), are people find "large" signs ugly. I do not see how anyone with an open mind can conclude that Woodbury can restrict signs in either size or total aggregate. It begs to question why Martin Overton and Bob Clarke think it is okay. Either they have information I do not or they do not care what the rules are. I am suspecting it is the latter.
Sean M November 14, 2012 at 01:34 PM
In 2010, there were 10 contested races. The normal political sign is 3 sq. ft. There are plenty of homes where spouses are of opposite political parties. Not allowing 60 sq ft restricts their ability to put up one normal sign supporting a candidate in every contested race. The attitude of some is to take it to court. The problem is elected officials are there to make decisions. There is limited case law even touching on restricting political signs. The reason? The above mentioned sections of the CT Constitution are clear. The Democrat town committee members that have spoken publicly about this have been advocating actions that clearly violate our rights. The difference between the two major political parties is clearly on display. On the Republican side, you have people who understand in a free society, people have the right to express their opinions and have the right to private property. On the Democrat side, you have people who believe people do not have to be offended by reading something, individuals must yield to the wants of others, regardless of rights, and private property is okay as long as you do not do something they do not like. If you do, you must go to a central planning government body first.
Kerri Dimitratos November 14, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Businesses in town have to go through strict regulations to be able to post the name of their establishment so customers can find them. Political parties are able to post their signs wherever they want with no regulations at all? We wonder why our children are being bullied in school, look what they read along the ride to and from school.
tom arras November 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM
If you want to see examples of bullying, look at the earlier posted videos of how the zoning commission meetings were run. Mr. Overton only cleaned up his act somewhat after the first videos surfaced. The reason the sign in question remains is that we still have an illegal regulation, and that situation exists until the political sign language is removed from our regulations. All I've ever advocated for was abiding by our Constitutions, and if anyone disagrees with those laws they can certainly work towards changing them, as our lawful processes provide for. Passage of an illegal regulation is not provided for, and exposes the Town to huge risk- regardless of the subject. Elected officials swore to uphold these laws, and there is no provision for them to pass regulations that violate the same laws. No one has ever answered my question as to why it was OK for Martin Overton to break the same regulation that he was trying to enforce against me, and I still will welcome that answer. Where is the uproar on that? Regardless of personal likes & dislikes, ALL regulations should be enforced equally and fairly. Only an unfair person would argue against that!
Kerri Dimitratos November 14, 2012 at 02:43 PM
My concern is about the disrespect for our president by a group set up across from the Post Office shortly after the election. We suffered through all the political commercials and signs leading up to the election - now that it is over and the majority has spoken, does it need to go on?
Voice of Reason November 14, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Comparing regulation of business signage to Political Free Speech signage is akin to apples and oranges. Children are being bullied over Political sign content? Can you elaborate?
Voice of Reason November 14, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I didn't see this group to whom you refer. However, even the Westboro Baptist Church enjoys the same Freedoms under the First Amendment that the rest of us do. Just because one finds the message ugly doesn't mean one has the right to restrict their Rights. And no, I don't condone the message of that "Church".
Sean M November 14, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Kerri, did you complain about all the things said to George W Bush?
Kerri Dimitratos November 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Sean - yes I did. I don't believe in disrespecting the President. By the way - I voted for President Bush.
Hayley Rose Horzepa November 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Texas' attempted secession (again) is a perfect example of this.
Palin Smith January 10, 2013 at 08:40 PM
The speech that makes us uncomfortable is the speech protected by the 1st Amendment. http://youtu.be/Mxjto_NxYKg

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