Sign ordinance vote pushed to Nov. 6; zoning issues on Oct. 16 council agenda

Sign ordinance vote pushed to Nov. 6; zoning issues on Oct. 16 council agenda

CUMBERLAND - A postponed vote on an ordinance that overhauls the town's ordinance on signs - including a provision for electronic message boards - was advertised for the Oct. 16 Town Council meeting but won't be heard until Nov. 6, according to Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli.

Giovanelli said the later date was chosen, after the Breeze ad was placed, to give the Ordinance Committee, headed by Manuel DaCosta, a chance to review it.

This ordinance made its first appearance on the council's agenda in August and has since been tabled, although the Planning Board in September gave it a thumbs-up recommendation at the request of Planning Director Kelley Nickson Morris.

The delay has left plans dangling for a $23,000 electronic event sign in front of the high school that the School Department had expected to erect in time for the start of school this year. School Committee members were poised to affirm its purchase last August when Vice Chairman Jeff Mutter suggested they wait for the council to act.

The ordinance is 15 pages long, and makes a series of technical changes, such as adjusting sizes allowed, banning tent signs and signs posted on utility poles, as well as the more sweeping permission for electronic signs that can change message no more than every five minutes.

This is an ordinance that Morris has described as a way to update the town's sign regulations and it adds the lines "promote a good business climate."

One business that's expressed interest in a new remotely-controlled sign, say officials, is Angelo's Palace Pizza on Mendon Road.

Mayor Daniel McKee says he, too, supports the lighted signs, pointing out that they would be neater than the varied changeable letter signs around town.

On the other hand, he calls the J.A. Appliance sign "a psychedelic experience" that would be continued to be outlawed.

"We don't want it out of control, we want to control it, but reflect the times we're living in."

On the record opposed to the electronic signs is Building Commissioner Neil Hall, who told The Breeze he worries Cumberland "will look like Las Vegas."

Also advertised for the Oct. 16 Town Council meeting is a request by Jose Almeida of 2600 Diamond Hill Road to rezone 426 Mendon Road from commercial to multi-family. The site, with a single house owned by the estate of Sadie Dzialo, is a heavily commercial area, sitting between the a newly approved auto body shop and Berkeley condominiums, and across from a strip mall. Planning Board members on Sept. 26 gave a positive review of this project.

Plans call for retaining the current house and adding 12 efficiency apartments to the rear of the property.

Morris has noted that if rezoned for multi-family use, the property, the land, at about 1.3 acres, is large enough for 10 total units, not 13.

She has also questioned the practice of the single unit in front while apartments are installed on the same lot.

Also advertised for the Oct. 16 meeting is rezoning permission for 3970 Mendon Road in Cumberland Hill where Shannon DeFusco, a Bristol dance teacher operating as D. Corp., wants to convert a residential lot that sits between other private homes to commercial to use as office space. The current owner is Claude Curran of Bristol.

This project has not been reviewed by the Planning Board.