Planning Board and voters at Huntington’s annual Town Meeting have effectively attacked their local businesses, with the new sign regulations they just passed. Whether by ignorance or malice, the results will undermine and prevent small enterprise development, and will start a cascading sequence that will disable economic prosperity and reduce the tax base in their town. Of course, neighboring towns with more reasonable and intelligent regulations will gain by drawing off entrepreneurs and customers.
The new regulations in Article 23, which became part of the town’s Zoning Bylaws, are not all bad, but several key provisions, severely limiting electric signs, sizes, heights, setbacks for commercial signs are downright draconian. Furthermore, the claim that no pre-existing signs will be “grandfathered” adds insult to injury, and will likely spark a big backlash.
There’s plenty of science and case history to back up these points. Pre-eminent universities, trade groups, chambers of commerce and the US government have done the research, have presented voluminous reports and have published books and manuals to guide planners, regulators and business owners on appropriate signage. In Huntington, this body of material was ignored. Big issues of visibility, free speech, traffic safety, attraction to visitors, etc. were ignored or dismissed.
The legal and financial downsides for the Town are serious. There are solid constitutional grounds to challenge these regulations, and legal precedent will favor court challenges by any business or group that is so inclined.
Good luck, my friends in Huntington.
Derrick Mason, Russell