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Planning Board Gives Preliminary OK for Electronic Sign

The Planning Board took a time out from its regular meeting Thursday night for a special joint meeting with the Land Use committee and the Zoning Bylaw
Review Committee.

Members of the Select Board were also in attendance to back a proposal for an electronic sign on the corner of Cambridge and Bedford streets. Currently, the sign consists of a banner held up by two wooden posts.

“In terms of a message board isn’t exactly becoming of the town of Burlington, and so we began just to noodle on the idea of what it would take to redo that and bringing us up to a 21st century standard of having an electronic message board,” said Nick Priest, chairperson of the Select Board who was joined by other members of the committee and Town Administrator Paul Sagarino.

With the plans to get the item approved at Town Meeting in January, some in the audience believed that would be a rush.

While zoning for such a sign could be worked out in the long run, the type of sign that’s best for the corner and the policies surrounding such a sign made detractors feel uncomfortable moving forward. Policies discussed included brightness of the sign, how much it changes during the course of a day, and generally how much of a distraction an electronic sign could be to drivers.

Sally Willard of the Zoning ByLaw Review Committee says public input is needed. She pointed out that an electronic sign popped up at Everett High School and some residents were taken aback because there wasn’t any discussion, she said.

“And it’s not that that’s not an appropriate sign, it’s just that it may not be the most appropriate sign for Burlington’s Town Center,” she said.

Priest pointed out this discussion started before the pandemic. He invited other committee members to attend the next Select Board meeting on Dec. 12.

Despite concerns and wanting to see the zoning bylaws surrounding the matter tightened up, the Planning Board did give a yes vote to approve the concept to keep it moving forward, but wants more clarification of what the sign will entail before it faces Town Meeting.