Planning board denies sign petition

WESTFIELD – The Planning Board, for the second time, rejected a special permit to allow erection of a sign at Aaron’s appliance store located at the intersection of Main and Mechanic Streets.
The board denied a special permit at its Sept. 15 meeting, but at its last meeting voted to allow the petitioner to submit a new proposal after determining that the new sign was substantially different than the sign originally proposed.
A petitioner whose special permit is denied usually cannot submit a new proposal for two years, unless a super majority of the Planning Board members vote that the new special permit application is “substantially different” than the original proposal.
Aaron’s had originally proposed a sign with internal lighting that would be supported on a pylon above their corner lot. The revised proposal was for a sign which would be lighted externally and would be a ground sign similar to that of the Burger King restaurant which is directly across Mechanic Street from Aaron’s store.
Aaron’s is located in the CORE district which has different zoning requirements and gives the Planning Board greater discretion on special permit applications for signs.
Planner Carl Vincent made a motion to deny the sign special permit. That motion to deny was approved by a 5-2 vote of the board members.
Board Chairman Philip McEwan said the proposed sign “does not conform to all the rules and regulations for a ground sign in the CORE district.”
Vincent said the 40-square-foot sign, which would be seven feet tall, creates a visual obstruction and would be public safety hazard because it blocks the vision of motorists trying to exit Mechanic Street, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
Vincent also argued that the store building has several signs attached to it, as well as signs in windows inside the store.
“Why do we need a sign there? There is sufficient signage on and inside the building. The business is doing better that it did on East main Street,” Vincent said. “I just do understand the need for this ground sign.”

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