Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Monmouth St. signs may face curbs

Newport weighs new regulations

Enquirer Contributor

        NEWPORT — Plastic storefront signs along Monmouth Street with letters that come off with the slightest breeze may soon come down for good.

        Eric Avner, the city's Main Street coordinator, asked City Commissioners Monday to add projecting signs as a permissible category along Monmouth, the city's main north-south street.

        The so-called “Class 9” designation would regulate materials that can be used, sign sizes and the height and distance they may project over sidewalks. It would also allow the city to remove signs from abandoned buildings.

        “We're trying to get away from the box with the fluorescent tubes inside that don't work,” Mr. Avner said.

        Mayor Tom Guidugli seemed to like the idea.

        “It sounds like it's an option,” he said. “Hopefully that will help take down the abandoned ones.”

        Mr. Avner's recommendations call for:

        • Limiting signs to 15 square feet. They may extend up to half the width of the sidewalk and must be at least 8 feet off the ground.

        • Encouraging external lighting.

        • Ensuring that signs do not cover architectural details on historic buildings.

        • Allowing signs made of cast metal, natural stone or wood. Other materials would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

        • Banning message boards and signs with removable letters.

        Current business owners would not be forced to remove nonconforming signs.

        Commissioner Jan Knepshield said the city has been trying to do something about abandoned signs since at least 1982, and he said the city will have to show business owners why projecting signs are a good idea.

        In other action, commissioners accepted a $137,000 federal grant to study aggressive behavior at Newport Middle School.

        Police Chief Thomas Fromme said his department will work with school officials and the Brighton Center social service agency to gather data on behavior at and near the school


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