Thomaston Planning and Zoning: Signage Exception, Special Permit Topics

Signage on a newer building at 46 Main St., (tan building, center), compared to other buildings in the area. (Chamberlain photo)

THOMASTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission, meeting Wednesday, September 4, conducted public hearings for two special permit applications and a site plan application. The first public hearing considered a special permit application for a computer numerical control machine shop at 196 East Main St. The commission closed the public hearing and approved the application. The second and third public hearings were regarding the same applicant for a new business at 46 Main St.

Mohammed R. Rahman submitted a special permit application for a mixed use accessory apartment above his business at 46 Main St. 

Upon fulfilling the requirements, the commission closed the public hearing and granted Mr. Rahman the approval.

At the next public hearing, Mr. Rahman requested approval for a variety of signs for his building. 

However, because the signs exceeded the size requirements for a site plan approval, it required a public hearing for a special permit approval.

Mr. Rahman was joined at the public hearing by his signage contractor, Dan Balducci of DB GRAPHICS.

The proposed signage includes three rooftop signs, 8-by-2 feet, and five illuminated signs for the windows. 

The window signage would be illuminated and at least one would have moving messages. The regulations permit one square foot per linear foot of building frontage for site plan approval.

The total square footage of signage that Mr. Rahman proposed equated to 57.3 square feet. 

Per the land use office, the building is approximately 53 feet in length, which is over the allotted amount for site plan approval.

The commission then opened the discussion to the public about the signage.

“I would be against the roof sign because I think the current signage is excessive, garish and tacky,” said resident Leon Totten. “It is certainly not befitting of a unique and quaint New England town.”

Many members of the community voiced concerns about maintaining the town’s aesthetic.

Stacey Sefcik, land use administrator and zoning enforcement officer, gave the description of the Downtown Development District from the zoning regulations. “As the ‘Town Center’ of the Town of Thomaston, the Downtown Development District overlay zone is identified as the commercial, governmental, historic and cultural center of the town,” said Ms. Sefcik.

The description concludes by explaining that, “the commission encourages building designs and plans in the Downtown Development District, which will be pedestrian friendly, enhance visual integrity, municipal character, and promote community development and historic identity.”

“The kinds of proposals that are being put forward might fit some other part of town, but not there, resident Mary Totten said. “You’ve got the Black Rock Tavern; you’ve got the Opera House. It doesn’t fit; it’s a sense of aesthetics.”

Although community members have concerns about the signage and its effects on the aesthetic of the town, they are not discouraging the business. Stan Love, director of store development at Bozzutos’s Inc., said that the business is not being objected to, just the size of the signs.

Mr. Rahman responded by asking if there were three independent businesses, there would be a sign for each business. However, the commission explained that the sum would still be the same.

After options were given to Mr. Rahman to modify his plan, Ralph Celone, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, proposed that Mr. Rahman come back for a continued hearing because the commission was not comfortable going over the size regulations.

Mr. Celone requested Mr. Rahman and Mr. Balducci to redesign the plan, taking into account everything that was discussed and come back to next month’s meeting, Wednesday, October 2, with photos of how the signage would appear on the building.

The commission reminded Mr. Rahman that if he wanted to come back with signage that was within regulation standards, it would be a site plan approval meeting instead of a public hearing.

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