Does Naples sign ordinance address ‘Open’ flags?

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Do flags that let people know a business is open constitute as signs?

What was referred to as “sail signs” was a topic for discussion brought up by Naples Selectman Rich Cebra during a recent board meeting.

As the conversation took it course, the selectmen agreed that it was time to hire an ordinance consultant to make the town’s ordinances more user-friendly.

After all, money has already been appropriated in this fiscal year’s budget to hire a firm for just that purpose.

As it stands, flag-type banners that advertise a business are not specifically addressed, while the size and placement of fixed signs is mentioned in the town’s Sign Ordinance.

An example of sail signs would be those used by Dunkin’ Donuts and the Umbrella Factory Outlet. Other local businesses, especially along Route 302, use them, too. This type of sign is called a banner, a feather flag, or a street flag by the companies that sell them,

“The sail signs: Is that a proper sign?” Cebra asked.

The answer was iffy.

“Our Sign Ordinance was written a while ago. They (flag signs) aren’t covered,” Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said. He preceded that statement by saying he and Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Renee Carter had a discussion about banners being used as signs. The conclusion was that such banners are not covered in the Sign Ordinance, he said.

The Sign Ordinance does address mobile signs, which are those put up during the businesses’ open hours. Sometimes, businesses that use feather signs remove them when closing. Mobile signs were not talked about during the meeting.

However, it was mentioned that the subject of signs tends to bring forth opinions and emotion.

“Signs are, and have been, I know, a heated topic,” Selectman Kevin Rogers said. “It is not that long of an ordinance to read,” he said. He had found the Sign Ordinance on the town website, and was looking at the document on his computer screen.

Cebra asked if the Naples Ordinance Review Committee could be tasked with the job of looking at the Sign Ordinance.

Rogers said the voters had already approved the hiring of an ordinance consultant.

“The lead-in question is: Do we need a person to organize our ordinances? (Should we hire) the person we allotted the money in our budget for,” Rogers said.

Paraschak emphasized that “the goal is to consolidate the ordinances, but don’t change the intent.”

As requested by the board, Paraschak said he will draft the request for bid proposals (RFBP). A vote was not required for Paraschak to put the RFBP on his to do list.

“When these things are clarified, we will have a piece of paper explaining — this is what you can do; this is what you cannot do,” he said.

Chairman Bob Caron II said that was a good idea.

“If anything, it will make it easier for people to read — the Naples taxpayers, the CEO, developers,” he said. This process will help to tighten up the ordinances, he said.

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