Scarborough tightens sign rules ahead of election

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SCARBOROUGH — With less than two months to go before Election Day, changes to the town’s sign ordinance require candidates to take note before placing campaign signs along town streets and roads.

The content-neutral sign ordinance changes mean temporary signs of any kind cannot be placed near many ecologically sensitive areas or within 30 feet of some intersections. The ordinance applies to all temporary signs, not just political signs.

The Ordinance Committee took up the cause after residents complained to the town about signs cluttering roadways and scenic areas.

Councilor William Donovan said the committee worked on the changes for about five or six months before the Town Council approved changes to the ordinance Sept. 6 by a vote of that 5-2. Councilors Katy Foley and Peter Hayes voted against the measure.

A 2015 Supreme Court decision gives municipalities the authority over temporary, content-neutral signs.

According to the amended ordinance, temporary signs can be placed on private and public property for up to six months, but signs in rights-of-way are restricted to three consecutive weeks. After six weeks, signs can be placed back in the right-of-way. A restriction of 12 weeks per calender year was also added to the ordinance.

Although signs can go up on private property for six months at a time, a 30-day removal clause will allow property owners to place the same sign up again after 30 days have passed.

According to the ordinance, signs on private property cannot “obstruct or impair vision or traffic, or in any manner create a hazard or a disturbance to the health and welfare of the general public.”

Spacing between the same signs is set at a minimum of 30 feet, which complies with state law.

To promote public safety at intersections with high traffic volume, temporary signs will not be allowed in rights-of-way within 30 feet of specific intersections along U.S. Route 1 and Payne Road.

Along U.S. Route 1, the intersections include Broadturn Road/Pine Point Road, Payne Road, Haigis Parkway, Gorham Road/Black Point Road and Pleasant Hill Road.

Along Payne Road, the restrictions include the intersections with Haigis Parkway, Gorham Road and Gallery Boulevard.

Signs in a public way must include the name and phone number of the individual who placed them, which Councilor Bill Donovan said would be an effective way to promote compliance and enforcement.

To protect ecologically sensitive areas, temporary signs are prohibited along several Scarborough Roads, many of which are marsh areas, and include:

• Route 1 between Dolloff Way and Southgate Road.

• Black Point Road between Camperdown Elm Drive and Tide Mill Lane.

• Black Point Road between Old Neck Road and Strawberry Fields Road.

• Black Point Road between Spurwink Road and Sprague Way.

• Black Point Road between Harmon Street and Winslow Homer Road.

• Pine Point Road between Marsh Winds Street and Primrose Lane.

• Pine Point Road between Old Blue Point Road and East Grand Avenue.

• Pleasant Hill Road from Minuteman Drive to Hackmatack Drive (Pleasant Hill Preserve area).

• Bayview Avenue between Houghton Street and Morning Street.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.