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Scarborough Council works on energy, sign regulations

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Scarborough Council works on energy, sign regulations

SCARBOROUGH — Wednesday's Town Council meeting was adjourned in an hour after councilors quickly worked through several agenda items.

They unanimously approved the creation of a new, ad-hoc Energy Committee to serve for the next year. The committee will consist of at least one councilor and five community members appointed by the council.

The committee will be charged with advising the town manager and the council on energy-related programs, projects and policies. It will research programs, develop ways to raise public awareness and look into participation in the Sierra Club's Cool Communities program and the Governor's Carbon Challenge.

The Council also approved the new solar power subsection to the Performance Standards zoning ordinance. Though a separate but related subsection on wind turbines was previously sent back to the Ordinance Committee for further work, councilors passed the solar power piece because no one from the public expressed any concerns or recommended changes during two public hearings.

Some Planning Board members had advised requiring buffering around solar panels, but, for now, the stipulation will not be included in the ordinance because of the concern that plantings might ultimately shade the panels and reduce their effectiveness.

Councilors held a first reading on an ordinance amendment that would loosen and better define the regulations for business signs.

Under the new proposal, introduced by Scarborough Economic Development Corp. President Harvey Rosenfeld, "grand opening" and "going out of business signs" would be allowed for 30 days.

"We certainly hope we'll see far more 'grand opening' signs than 'going out of business' signs," Rosenfeld said.

The ordinance also addresses sandwich-board signs, limiting them to a maximum of 8 square feet and 4 feet in height. They would be allowed no more than 15 feet away from a building, require a permit, must be taken in when the business is closed and be banned from major arteries.

Banners and flags would be permitted sporting the word "sale" or "open."

And electronic message signs, which are now restricted to changing only twice every 24 hours, would be allowed to change twice an hour.

Rosenfeld said the new parameters would help businesses in the tough economic times while continuing the allow control by the code enforcement officer.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.

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