After singing her rendition of “Cups (When I’m Gone)” by Anna Hendricks tonight, both Shakira and Blake Shelton hit their button at the last second and fought to get her on their team. Ultimately, Eaton chose to join Blake Shelton’s team.
Congratulations, Ria…we’re all behind you as you go for the win.
The town of Billerica has held hundreds of elections since its founding, and yet, as of this date, Billerica has no specific sign regulations or bylaw for political signs. In fact, Billerica has no election law per se other than a default requirement to be in compliance with Commonwealth General Laws. As such, political signs, by default, must then fall under general sign regulations that meet the intended purposes of regulating signs throughout the town.
SECTION 9 SIGNS AND LIGHTING
So, let us look at some general requirements of all signs:
1. Definition of a Sign: A sign includes any letter, word, symbol, drawing, picture, design, device, flag, banner, pennant, article, light, or object that is designed to advertise, inform, direct, or attract attention to or indicate any premises, person, or activity.
2. Applicability: All signs and lighting are subject to this Zoning By-law and shall be considered structures for which a variance may be sought, if prohibited by this Zoning By-law. All signs and lighting shall comply with such other provisions of this Zoning By- law, as deemed applicable by the Inspector of Buildings.
3. Application for a Sign Permit:
a. All persons desiring to erect, change, or alter a sign shall apply to the Inspector of Buildings for a sign permit, unless a permit is not required by this Zoning By-law.
b. All signs associated with uses permitted by special permit or site plan review special permits shall be permitted by special permit also.
c. No sign shall be changed or altered in size, shape, construction, location, or illumination, except in compliance with this Zoning By-law.
d. Changing background colors, re-lettering and using the same color, or maintaining a sign shall not be considered a change or alteration of a sign.
e. All applications for sign permits shall include a drawing to scale showing the following:
1. The proposed sign including the proposed size, shape, location, coloring and lettering;
2. All existing signs maintained on the premises;
3. A plot plan and a sketch of the building facade indicating the location of the proposed and any existing signs; and
4. Site distances from adjacent streets to proposed signs.
f. If a proposed sign complies with this Zoning By-law, the Inspector of Buildings shall assign such sign a unique serialized sign number, where the first two digits represent the year of issuance of the sign permit.
4. Signs and Lighting Cannot Interfere with Traffic: No signs or lighting shall by reason of their location, shape, size or color interfere with traffic or be confused with or obstruct the site distance or the effectiveness of any official traffic sign, traffic signal, or traffic marking. Red, green, and yellow signs that interfere with or cause confusion with respect to any official traffic sign, signal, or marking are prohibited. All signs and lighting shall have a minimum setback of 10 feet from all property lines. The Inspector of Buildings may require a greater setback from a street based on necessary site distance for the class of a street and speed on such street as set forth in the current edition of the Massachusetts Highway Department Manual.
5. Maintenance: Every sign shall be maintained in good condition. If a sign shows corrosion or deteriorated paint over 25% of the area of one side; or if damage to the sign causes a loss of 10% of its substance; or if the sign suffers damage or deterioration which creates a risk of harm to the person or property of another; or if the establishment is no longer in business, such sign shall be repaired or removed by the property owner.
6. Area of a Sign: Sign area shall be the smallest, regularly-shaped ellipse or rectangle that will encompass the extreme limits of the writing, representation, emblem, or other display together with any material or color forming an integral part of the background of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the backdrop, building, or structure against which it is placed. Sign supports shall be excluded in determining the area of a sign. A double-faced sign having the identical message on both sides shall be considered to have the area of a single face.
The closest one can come to finding any specificity on political signs can be found in a couple of areas:
Note: There is noting in the regulations that prevents the use of hand painted signs, unless one considers that such signs violate the standard of aesthetics the town has defined and mandates. Or, I suppose if one were to consider that such signs run in contradiction to the town’s efforts toward economic development by adding to clutter as opposed to standards of a higher order, also defined [they are not].
One could argue that the hand painted signs may actually “complement land uses to which a sign is related”; at least in the “historic district” of the town center where it seems the majority of citizens delusionally prefer more of a 17th or 18th century feel over the benefits of a blend of the past with the progress of the future. Since we have recently turned down a project that would have hidden unsightly telephone poles and strings of hideous wiring, that position would be somewhat strengthened. I’m not certain that one could stretch this loose logic to justify inclusion of the remainder of the town accepting hand painted signs.
Otherwise, it seems to me that under current bylaws, the intent of the law is to require all signs, except those not requiring permits, to be regulated by permit and failure to obtain a permit punishable by fines for each sign unlawfully erected [put up without a permit].
Then again, under the rationale for establishing bylaws regarding signs, the town has expressly stated that one of the key elements is to ensure consistent enforcement of those bylaws. However, I don’t recall political candidates of the past having to obtain permits to put up their signs, or residents having to obtain permits to put such signs on their private property. Do you?
So, perhaps, by precedent, our town bylaws have gone so long without consistent enforcement that they are now moot and only enforceable with proper prior notice or a new effective date having been published to inform the public that the building inspector will now begin doing a long neglected job.
I’m am merely pointing out that the town has had ample time to write workable bylaws, but has chosen, instead, to keep ineffective and inefficient ones on the books with respect to politics and politicians. If you’ve been fined or hassled for bylaw violations in the past, how does that make you feel; especially, now knowing that some of the members of government have been serving ineptly for decades overlooking one basic area of governing after another because they either don’t care or have not made sufficient commitment to set aside a proper amount of time to do the jobs that they were elected to do and provide proper oversight of the town executive and those under his/her direction who are not living up to their responsibilities [such as the bylaw review committee]?
How many permits do you suppose were taken out for each individual sign during the last election campaign cycle? Should permits be required for political campaign signs and placement considering the possible safety hazards poorly constructed or improperly designed signs can create? Should political speech such as campaign signs be paid for in the form of permit fees, or should the sign permit only require an overall description and location placement evaluation?
That everything should be
an act of love
and no truth traded.
That we should see
by means of empathy:
accept what we have no perception of.
That shared and given multiply,
that things are emptied,
and every richness only in the heart.
That superstition die and science
this science of ours
be servant to the empathetic will.
That life and all things living
take up the sacred space
in which we can move like mind-dancers.
That knowledge grows
with intellect, and violence ceases
that freedom be mind’s individual freedom,
no nations and one species,
that the garden
is planted, and allowed to every child.
A S Kline
How much better and more creative the world would be with a child’s imagination and the education of an ethical mind.
Let me illustrate the concept in the simplest of terms:
AN EAGLE and a Fox formed an intimate friendship and decided to live near each other. The Eagle built her nest in the branches of a tall tree, while the Fox crept into the underwood and there
produced her young. Not long after they had agreed upon this plan, the Eagle, being in want of provision for her young ones, swooped down while the Fox was out, seized upon one of the little
cubs, and feasted herself and her brood. The Fox on her return, discovered what had happened, but was less grieved for the death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just
retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near an altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly seized a piece of the flesh, and carried it, along with a burning cinder, to her nest. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and dropped down dead at the bottom of the tree. There, in the sight of the Eagle, the Fox gobbled them up.
If you accept a leadership position, you are obligated, as a leader, to set the example for all to follow. That responsibility is not just to the letter of the law, but should also include the spirit behind the law as well. If bylaws are perceived to be inappropriate, then, work to change those bylaws or eliminate them altogether. The worst example a leader can set is to simply ignore the bylaw(s) and fail to enforce them with impartiality.
Finally! The Billerica Minuteman has taken a firm stand. Good job and a hearty hand salute to the editor for not straddling the line; something that hopefully will soften the dubious history of past editors. (Offered as my own pithy editorial) Keep up the good work and I think you will reap the benefit of great success.
Posted Mar. 7, 2014 @ 11:52 am
How can someone be taken seriously as a policy maker and policy enforcer if he himself does not abide by the town’s bylaws.
When you take the oath of Selectman, you are not above the law. The bylaws that you expect the residents of the town to live by also apply to town officials.
Selectman George Simolaris has once again erected oversized plywood, hand-painted signs throughout town, clearly in violation of the town’s bylaws. This is the third time Simolaris has erected similar size signs to get his message out to the public.
Building Inspector Mark LaLumiere has twice informed Simolaris that these signs are in violation of the town’s bylaws. Last year, Simolaris recognized that the signs were in violation of the town’s bylaws and removed them, replacing them with dozens of 1-foot-by-1-foot printed signs (in keeping with the town’s bylaws.)
While we commend him for getting the word out that an election is coming up and understand his right to endorse any candidate for selectman, he needs to abide by the same rules ordinary citizens are expected to follow. The signs need to be no bigger than 1-foot by-1-foot square. There is no rule that they can’t be hand painted, so please express yourself if you choose.
Simolaris, you do not have a problem recognizing when others are in violation of the law, but
While reading the following article, this thought entered my head as I looked at the signs and recognized the location to be outside of Selectman Simolaris’ home – a town official who clearly has disdain for the town’s bylaws:
By Jennifer Martinage
Posted Mar. 6, 2014 @ 1:16 pm
BILLIRICA < – When is the paper going to fix this?
The town election is less than a month away and the oversized, hand painted signs endorsing candidates and reminding people to vote have reappeared. The signs do however violate the town’s sign bylaw and Building Inspector Mark LaLumiere is working to have them removed.
"I have gotten about seven or eight complaints about them thus far," said LaLumiere about the signs Monday. "All of the complaints seem to be directed toward the homemade signs and where they are placed and how they reflect on the town."According to LaLumiere, "if you read the bylaw, any sign over 1-foot-by-1-foot is technically illegal and any sign placed on public property is illegal.
"LaLumiere said he plans to submit a warrant article in the spring to clarify the sign bylaw.The hand painted signs can be found on Andover Road in front of Selectman George Simolaris’ house, as well as candidate for selectman Rome Capobianco’s house. Similar signs can also be found at the corner of River Street and Boston Road, as well as on the front lawns of homes on Concord Road.LaLumiere said the complaints include via Oversized signs violate town bylaw – News – Billerica Minuteman
I totally agree with my fellow citizen on this issue. Bylaws are only as good as the level of enforcement a town provides. Let’s insist that this level of enforcement is as blind and objective for the average homeowner as it is for those who have set their sights on a seat in the ruling class.
Posted Mar. 6, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
Once again we feel the need to bring to your attention an infraction to the Town of Billerica’s bylaws by an elected official.
Town bylaws dictate signage size for both political as well as general signage which is not being followed.
Selectman George Simolaris as well as candidate for Selectman Romo Capobianco are knowingly fabricating and displaying signage which does not conform to town bylaws after having been made aware of said bylaws.
The signage I believe displays a negative image to both the town of Billerica in general as well as the town’s historic district. I believe, as do others, that we as citizens of Billerica as well as those who travel through our town are shown a negative image of not only the politics of this town but the lack of respect for the town’s laws by our elected officials.
As selectman and as a candidate for selectman both George Simolaris and Romo Capobianco show a disturbing lack of respect for our town bylaws and appear to be placing themselves above the law instead of upholding the law. Prior knowledge and lack of respect for the town bylaws show negatively in our elected officials to those of us who play by the rules and those who travel through our fair town.
Pond Street Resident
Some say that art is in the eye of the beholder. Considering these signs and the fact that former Town Manager William Williams was booted due to his comment regarding Billerica’s lack of curb appeal, I would guess from their silence that a lot of Billerica’s citizens have about as much “art” appreciation as a herd of blindfolded wildebeest. It’s either that, or they simply lack the courage to demand elected officials act properly and take proper care of the town. Which is it? Has the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board and the Town Manager all lost their will to demand proper law enforcement?