LYNDONVILLE -- For a year-and-a-half, the Lyndon Planning Commission has worked with Zoning Administrator and Town Planner Justin Smith to create the first-ever sign section in the town's bylaws to govern signs in Lyndon and Lyndonville. The group has looked at sign ordinances from other parts of Vermont, and considered, district-by-district here, what makes sense for this community's signage.

Planning Commission Chairman Dan Daley said the work began close to two years ago, when members of the commission sat down for a meeting with the members of the town's Development Review Board and Smith "to get some sense of the types of issues that were not addressed in the current version of the Zoning Bylaws."

"We actually compiled quite a list (flood plain issues, definition of a structure, fences, signs, lighting, parking - to name a few) and then prioritized this list," Smith said of the first leg of that work, the creation of a sign ordinance for the first time here, coming to fruition now.

Daley said, "We decided to work on signs first because we knew it could be a rather lengthy process. Since that time, we have had numerous meetings and have discussed so many aspects of signs: size, type (building or free-standing), number, lighting, etc. This has been a deliberately slow process as we wanted to make sure we were very thorough."

"We tried very hard to balance the needs of businesses while maintaining the historical character and integrity of the town, especially as expressed in the Town Plan," said Daley.

The proposed sign ordinance is now ready for public comment and viewing at Smith's office at the Lyndon Municipal Building.

There will be a public hearing on the proposed sign section for the town's bylaws, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level conference room of the Lyndon Municipal Building.

"The purpose of these sign regulations is to encourage the use of free-standing and building signage which is compatible with community character, is readable, clear, non-distracting to vehicular traffic, and is maintained in safe and good repair," a public hearing notice states.

There are sections within the proposed section -- including the purpose, general standards, signs which are exempt, prohibited, rules related to illuminated signs, measurements, rules for business plazas and more.

According to Daley, "Those who review the proposed bylaw changes will see that we have organized them by district, with the thought that certain parts of the town have different characteristics than other parts. I need to commend the fantastic work done by the past and current members of the Commission during this process. Despite our occasional disagreements, everyone has been collegial and respectful and, in my opinion, has had nothing but the best interests of the town in mind. I would also be greatly remiss if I did not thank Justin Smith for his tremendous work in all of this. His expertise and guidance have been invaluable."

Smith said, "The sign section will bring some uniformity to the town where signage is concerned."

"The sign section will allow some signage in ALL districts," stated Smith in an e-mail. "Some [districts] for obvious reasons, will be allowed to have more, some districts less."

Smith stated, "If the signs meet the requirements, the zoning administrator will be able to approve the sign, instead of having to go to the DRB. This in some cases will cut two or three weeks from the wait time."

"I think it gives both the applicant and the DRB some clear direction on what is allowed and what isn't," Smith said of the new sign section being proposed. "Instead of saying we take signage on a case-by-case basis, there will now be a section that helps the applicant to understand what they will be allowed to have."

An example from the sign section, under illuminated signs, states, "Illuminated signs shall be shielded in such a way as to produce no glare, light pollution to the night sky, undue distraction to vehicular traffic, hazard to the surrounding area, or a nuisance to adjoining properties."

Smith said after the July 11 public hearing, that if there are significant changes to be made by the commission, they would hold a second hearing. If the changes after next week's hearing are cosmetic only, the document will go to the town's select board for a hearing. All existing signs, he said, are grandfathered in.

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