Grandfathering deadline nears under Harpswell sign ordinance

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HARPSWELL — Deadlines have been set for the town’s new sign ordinance, including grandfathering for signs that complied with the old rules and those that didn’t.

Residents adopted a new ordinance at March Town Meeting, loosening some restrictions on signs businesses can erect, and establishing a new appeal process.

The new ordinance is already in effect. Non-permitted signs that conformed to the old ordinance must be grandfathered before June 1.

A sign that’s been in place since 1970 is exempt from the new regulations if it’s registered at the Codes Enforcement Office by April 1, 2012.

Signs not grandfathered must comply with the new regulations by Dec. 31, 2014.

Town Planner Carol Tukey said the new ordinance creates more options for business signs, including directory signs on properties that have more than one business. The latter could be applied at Mitchell Field if businesses spring up at the former U.S. Navy fuel depot.

Window signs are also allowed.

Two years ago, setback restrictions were the driving force for reviewing the town’s sign policies after the codes office began confiscating signs for noncompliance because some were too close to roads.

The new ordinance retains the setback restrictions of the old ordinance, which is 5 feet from the traveled way.