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Ban on Car Barn Lot Signs Gets Backing of Historic Commission

The Wenham Historic District Commission recommends that no sign be allowed to be erected on the car barn lot once it becomes home to the Wenham War Memorial.

The Wenham Historic District Commission has backed a complete ban on signs on the car barn lot once it becomes home to the Wenham War Memorial.

On Thursday, the commission said it also hopes to see stepped up enforcement of the existing rules, which were modified about two years ago. Those rules (which are attached to this story as a PDF) establish an application process and time limits, among other requirements, for signs on the car barn lot.

Jim Howard, chairman of the commission, said the existing rules “are not being adequately enforced.”

The commission will outline its opinion – the existing rules should be more closely enforced and than signs should be banned when it becomes home to the War Memorial - in a letter to the Board of Selectmen. On Thursday, the commission reviewed the language of a draft letter and fined-tuned it before it gets sent.

The car barn lot - town owned-property at the corner of Arbor and Main streets - will become home to the Wenham War Memorial and Veterans Memorial Park. Town Meeting voters, in two separate votes, and . It will be paid and maintained through donations.

When the site become a Veterans Memorial Park and War Memorial, “those signs are not appropriate; they should not be there,” Howard said during the commission's meeting at the . “There are so many ways to get out information the signs don’t serve the same purpose they used to serve,”

Howard noted , which he heard about via a Connect-CTY phone call from the town. Plus, there’s websites, local cable access TV and other sources for town information, he said.

There’s not as many signs in downtown Hamilton and there were not as many signs on the property 10-15 years ago, said Barbara Locke, a commission member.

Michelle Bailey, a Wenham resident who was looking on during the discussion, said it may not seem as if there as many signs in Hamilton, since some are at , some are in front of and some are in front of .

Three Wenham veterans also sat in on the discussion, also pushing for a complete ban on sign once the War Memorial Park is constructed.

“It would be like putting up signs in a cemetery,” said Bruce Blanchard, a member of the War Memorial Committee, later adding: “I feel very strongly that when the war memorial is there that is the end of any signs.”

Blanchard also wondered whether the signs that go up on the car barn lot may instead start going up somewhere else.

“If they’re not going there, are they going to find another place to go?” Blanchard said.

Locke suggested that signs like the ones that have gone up on the car barn lot did not need to go up anywhere in the historic district and that it amounted to “visual clutter.”

As of Friday, there were three signs on the car barn lot – one publicizing the water ban, one advertising youth football and one advertising Sunday concerts at Patton Park.

“No driver can safely read all those signs when they are driving by,” Locke said.

Locke said that as long as signs are allowed on the car barn lot, the signs should be a “direct benefit and usefulness” to Wenham residents.

Without enforcement, she said, it adds to the perception that any sign can be put up there.

Mary July 22, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Yep - two of the highest tax bills in the commonwealth, but only 1 barrel per week, or every other week, for trash, and no "watering" although we are surrounded by water and return most of our water usage to the watershed through our private "Title 5 compliant" septic systems - and now "no signs" is next, and then "no cars in front of service stations or dealerships" - hmmm, I wonder what will we be told we "can't have" next? And we wonder why our home values have dropped so dramatically compared to neighboring towns (we used to be considered the place people wanted to be). Now we get smiles from residents of those surrounding towns who pay less taxes and get more services, still get good schools, have water that comes from "Wenham" Lake, and aren't constantly told what they "can't have" because some else knows better. I'm surprised we haven't seen a proposal for HAMWENCARE - a mandatory supplement to any health care plan regardless of whether we have one or not - just because we need to pay more taxes and get nothing for it.......
Sue Killam July 22, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I totally agree with Bruce Blanchard and Jim Howard regarding the signs by the Car barn lot. There should be NO signs there. Downtown Wenham used to look so nice, but now with all the signs by the car barn lot, it just looks cluttered. Besides, it seems that most of the sings are activities that don't even take place in Wenham, but rather, places like Pingree School, Patton Park, etc. There are many other ways to get the word out regarding events.
Jack Hauck July 22, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The intersection of Main, Arbor and Friend already is too dangerous without adding any signs to distract drivers. There are times when two cars, side by side, are exiting from Arbor at the same time as two cars, side by side, are coming from the Hamilton direction at the same time as two cars, side by side, are coming from the Beverly direction at the same time as two cars, side by side, are atempting to enter Main from Friend Ct. The only signs I'd like to see here are signs that the monument honoring Wenham's veterans will soon arrive.
Michelle Bailey July 23, 2012 at 01:58 AM
The issue is not having signs on the corner, but enforcement. The current policy allows signs to be placed no longer than 3 weeks with preapproval for non-profit organizations only. But no one is enforcing the policy. If the town bans signs at the car barn lot, they need to find an alternative location or we will see signs popping up everywhere instead of just one location.

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