Marquee displays businessman’s grievance

 

MESSAGE ON MARQUEE was put up by business owner Dan Lajoie over the weekend. (De Busk Photo) NW dd42 PHOTO for Naples sign BARN BUSINESS SIGN SIGN IN COMPLIANCE? The Naples Ordinance Review Committee will schedule a date for a hearing to address this business sign. A permit was granted on July 17; and a Notice of Violation was sent on Sept. 18. The issue is whether the structure the sign is posted on is included in the allowable 32 square feet. (De Busk Photo)

MESSAGE ON MARQUEE was put up by business owner Dan Lajoie over the weekend. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — A sign can serve many purposes.

A sign can advertise a business or service. It can announce a birth in the community or welcome back military personnel who were serving overseas. It can let people know about upcoming events or that a company is hiring.

After all, a sign is designed to say something.

A local businessman, who says he was essentially asked to remove his sign by the Town of Naples Code Enforcement Officer, has used a roadside marquee to let his grievances be known.

Dan Lajoie co-owns the store Antique Revival, which has been renamed The Naples Barn. It is located on the corner of Routes 302 and 35.

Over the weekend, Lajoie put a new message on the marquee that had been used by the bakery, Pretentious Pie, which closed for the season.

The marquee reads: “Here the town goes again. Code Officer Carter wants me to tear down my sign. Call town manager 693-6364.”

In late September, Lajoie received a copy of an official letter from the Town of Naples, saying that his business sign is in violation of the Naples Sign Ordinance.

That is because the 32 square feet, which is allowable for one sign or the combined surface of two signs, includes both the structure and the sign, according to the letter written by the code enforcement officer.

MESSAGE ON MARQUEE was put up by business owner Dan Lajoie over the weekend. (De Busk Photo) NW dd42 PHOTO for Naples sign BARN BUSINESS SIGN SIGN IN COMPLIANCE? The Naples Ordinance Review Committee will schedule a date for a hearing to address this business sign. A permit was granted on July 17; and a Notice of Violation was sent on Sept. 18. The issue is whether the structure the sign is posted on is included in the allowable 32 square feet. (De Busk Photo)

SIGN IN COMPLIANCE? The Naples Ordinance Review Committee will schedule a date for a hearing to address this business sign. A permit was granted on July 17; and a Notice of Violation was sent on Sept. 18. The issue is whether the structure the sign is posted on is included in the allowable 32 square feet. (De Busk Photo)

Lajoie said that his sign is not in violation of the Naples Sign Ordinance, which was most recently revised in 2009.

His interpretation of the ordinance is that the sign alone can be up to 32 square feet, and the size of the sign post can be up to 20 feet. The sign post on his commercial property is 16 feet high, he said. He also abided by the proper distance from the right-of-way, which is 35 feet from the centerline of Roosevelt Trail. Lajoie added eight inches to that distance — just to be safe, he said.

Additionally, the sign post was approved via a building permit by Naples Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Renee Carter, he said.

According to Lajoie, when he got his permit, he showed Carter a photo of a similarly-designed sign post and told Carter that was what he planned to build. He said Carter gave him the go-ahead.

Now, the g- ahead is to remedy the Sign Ordinance violation.

On Wednesday morning, Carter said never once has she told Lajoie that he had to remove the sign.

“Those words never came out of my mouth. I did not say that. All I said to him was, ‘Hey, it looks larger than 32 square feet. I am going to write you a letter,” Carter said.

Meanwhile, Lajoie is waiting for a date to be set so that he can appear before the Ordinance Review Committee.

This upcoming hearing prohibits members of the committee — even those who helped write the ordinance — from commenting on any interpretation the sign ordinance. The Ordinance Review Committee is the first recourse for residents displeased with a decision made by the CEO.

As per the Naples Sign Ordinance, the size of signs is addressed in Section 2.3.

Thirty-two square feet is the maximum size for a sign. That applies to portable signs as well as signs posted on the side of a building or on its roof. Sandwich board signs, also known as a sidewalk or an A-frame sign, are restricted to 12 feet.

Section 2.2 seems to address the structure upon which a sign is posted. Under Manner of Display, “the maximum height for free-standing signs is 20 feet.”

Business signs cannot be displayed on fences or utility poles, the ordinance says.

On Wednesday, Carter said the town’s Sign Ordinance is not particularly easy to understand.

“The Town has received significant complaints about the Sign Ordinance,” she said, adding it is something the Naples Board of Selectmen hopes to address in the near future.

On the other hand, Carter has “had a lot of complaints about the town looking like Old Orchard Beach. It’s not just me. This is not what Renee wants to do. I am just following the ordinance,” she said.

The problems with the Sign Ordinance are “not regarding any one individual — it’s something that’s been going on for two years,” she said.

Carter said while some in the town are siding with Lajoie, people also come into her office to express their support for her.

“I’ve had people call me or stop in and say, ‘I’m glad that you are following the town’s ordinance,’ ” Carter said.

Over the weekend, community members have commented about the marquee to Lajoie.

“People have stopped in, saying what they can do for me. They say they are going to call the town,” Lajoie said.

Since June, Lajoie and a crew of contractors have cleaned up the clutter in the yard and revitalized the old barn that housed the Antique Revival store. Additionally, he hired an interior decorator from Blais Construction & Design, of Bridgton.

“Everyone is ecstatic about what we are doing here — with the exception of two people from the town,” he said.

“While ropes were holding the sign in place and the concrete was drying, I got a call from the Town of Naples,” he said.

He took a trip to town hall and stopped into the CEO’s office.

“She said, ‘Your sign needs to come down. It is supposed to be 32 feet,’” Lajoie said.

“That sign is not going to come down without a court order,” he said on Wednesday.

“All I am trying to do is make this corner beautiful. It used to look like Sanford and Son here,” he said.

 

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