The Day By Joe Wojtas June 13, 2017
Stonington, CT – The owners of Fleming’s Feed on Route 1 are seeking a zoning variance from the town so they can tear down three traditional billboards and replace them with a much smaller, two-sided, digitally lit billboard.
The town’s zoning regulations, though, prohibit full internal illumination of a sign and ban signs that “use a technology capable of displaying digital, variable, or alternating messages and copy generated by any electronic mechanical or illuminated means.” Under the existing regulations, the proposed digital sign would not be allowed. Similar signs, although larger, can be seen along Interstate 91 in Hartford.
To obtain a variance, Peter Fleming and Scott Nye will have to prove to the Zoning Board of Appeals at a July 11 public hearing that they have a legal hardship.
If they obtain ZBA approval, they then will need planning approval from the town.
The proposed sign, which would sit atop a 9-foot-tall pole, would be 180 square feet compared to the 900 square feet that exists now. The application states that the existing billboards partially are located in the state right-of-way for Route 1 but the new sign would be located entirely on Fleming’s Feed property and be more consistent with setback requirements. In addition, it would meet flood hazard regulations.
According to the application, the removal of the existing billboards and location of the new billboard would improve site distances from the entrance and exit to the building.
The application also points out that the advertising would be changed remotely instead of a crew changing the sign manually in the state right-of-way, further improving safety.
Finally, the application states that local police and fire departments could post emergency announcements such as Amber and Silver alerts on the billboard, as well as accident and storm information, creating a public safety benefit to the town at no cost.