Forecaster Forum: Are Falmouth's rules for all or none?
During a Falmouth Town Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 27, the topic of a significant commercial sign on Route 1 that was built in violation of existing town ordinances was discussed.
Specifically, the owner of the sign requested that the Town Council change the rules to comply with the non-conforming sign. Members of the council, including myself, were not happy with the idea that the town would change the rules that all other Falmouth business owners follow, to accommodate one business owner who has violated them.
It isn’t fair to punish the business owners of Falmouth who follow the rules by rewarding one who did not. The definition of being a pro-business community is fair and equal application of the rules and regulations to ensure a level playing field. Exemptions, or outright changes to ordinances (as was requested) to fix violations is the antithesis of being a fair and business friendly environment.
During the discussion it was suggested that a relatively small fine might be imposed, and I specifically said any fine levied in this situation should “hurt,” so that it is a deterrent from this kind of behavior in the future. It is important that precedents are set in these situations so we do not encourage an environment where business and/or property owners begin to ignore rules and regulations with the anticipation all they need to do is pay a small fine, or a “parking ticket,” as just the cost of doing business in any manner they choose.
This discussion and our resulting decision to seek a not insignificant fine as a course of action towards compliance have nothing to do with the individual business involved. To be a business-friendly community we must uphold the rules for everyone to ensure a fair and level playing field. As a business-friendly town, we can't operate from a standpoint that the rules will be changed, or a relatively small fine will be imposed, to accommodate violators.
If the rules don’t apply equally to everyone, than they apply to no one.
Chris Orestis is a Falmouth town councilor.