BillericaNews BillericaNews Justice Image

Home Page An Opinion on Sign By-Laws
Date: June 1998
Source: Op-Ed

The Signs of Our Times - An Opinion Concerning Sign By-Laws

There once was a time when a business began by hanging out a simple shingle. Times have indeed changed. We have moved into an information age and the simple shingle has evolved into a huge industry. Isn't it wonderful.

Remember, the sign industry gave us the famous Hollywood sign, the Boston Citgo sign, and the award winning Hilltop steakhouse sign. Airplanes write on the sky and computers flash us messages of events, the time of day and the weather. Signs are everywhere. They tell us what to eat, drink, smoke, smell, try and fly. Some of them help us. Some of them make us more aware. And some of them have so much detail we must read them in installments - - or pick and choose which ones to read. Isn't it wonderful. Our visual opportunities appear to be boundless and generous contributions are added each business day. What will they think of next?

The answer is clear - - bigger, taller, brighter, flashing, and moving signs. More and more and more signs. Isn't it great! And they're doing this for us. Enjoy. It's free.

OK, there are a few malcontents in town that don't like one or two of those big olde signs. They complain louder about the illegal signs. Whine, whine, whine. Nobody likes a spoiler. Anyway, forcing illegal signs down could put a poor businessman out of business. We wouldn't want that, would we?

Some folks are just being selfish. They're probably just thinking of that accident. You know. The time that their car crashed into the next car - - trying to read the virtual epic of a sign listing the latest meat prices or the latest hamburger offer. Remember - - that guy smashed into the guy in front of him. He was reading the same sign. But, he was reading slower. And, going slower. He didn't see the other guy slow down. Oh well, we gotta get those signs read, don't we!

Why complain anyway. It was a mistake. Can't blame it on that sign. Signs can change. So what if it may be an illegal sign. We need the advertising right there - - up close - - in our faces, or it just doesn't work - - right? What about free speech? And, those pesky town sign by-laws are just getting in the way of doing good olde fashion business.

Anyway, we should read a little of that big old sign each day instead of trying to read the whole thing at once. Don't get greedy. The sign is there to help us. We just can't go overboard and read everything at once. Business is business. Try and be more considerate to those business that are trying to help. Maybe a lesson in speed-viewing for all of us will help. That's it - - speed viewing. The sign industry has a correspondence course in it. Take the course. Improve your life. Route 1 got famous by its signs. Those of us in our little olde town are just trying to do our part. Isn't it wonderful.

Now here's the bad news. There are some folks in town that think signs are getting out of hand and they're stirring up some truck about enforcing the sign by-law. These people probably haven't gotten the message. Businesses need more and bigger signs - - plain and simple. Some businesses are even being forced to put up illegal signs! Gotta keep up. Isn't it wonderful.

There are a few businesses that have some extra bucks to put up more signs. Spending a few bucks on lawyers and filing fees can and does grease the process. They go to the Board of Appeal to get their signs - - all sort of legal and stuff. Why if it wasn't for the plain old generosity of the Board of Appeal in ignoring that awful sign by-law and those rigid state laws, we wouldn't be getting our fair share of bigger, taller and wider signs that we all know and love. Isn't it wonderful. So what if town meeting said no to these signs. Progress is progress - - right?

And let's give some credit to the Board of Selectmen. They appointed the Board of Appeals. It's not easy to find people that will pay no attention to laws and swear an oath that they will. But the Selectmen did it. Great job! Isn't it wonderful.

Then there's the Town's Charter saying that the Board of Selectmen should enforce the laws for the businesses that it licenses. Just hold on - - that doesn't necessarily mean that it should withhold licenses for sign violators, does it? Now that's just such a picky point. What's a few violations of the Town's Zoning By-Laws, General By-Laws and Building Code got to do with the fitness of a person to hold a license anyway. It should be OK to look the other way when the very life of a business is at stake - - after all nobody's getting hurt or anything?

Just because dozens of those illegal signs were never inspected for safety, electrical wiring, and construction by the Building Inspector, we can overlook it, can't we? Obviously some of them could be dangerous, but we know which ones they are - - don't we? Just stay away from them. Now that's being smart. Isn't it wonderful.

As far as business is concerned, who wants to stop illegal signs anyway? Don't we all love them? More, taller and wider signs add more color to our surroundings and people always remember what a nice place our town is because of them. I hear that talk all the time. Our little town is indeed the land of opportunity. Isn't it wonderful.

But, sadly times are changing. There are some people that say that the signs of our times have created the land for the opportunist and made the town look ugly. What a ridiculous thought - - huh?


Back to Opinions

Comments are invited by contacting BillericaNews through the News Editor

Jump to the: Home Page or the News Page or the Laws Page

Copyright (c) 1998 BillericaNews. All rights reserved.