Ordinance could be revisited to allow for new LED signs

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Following requests made by both Foxcroft Academy and Foxcroft Veterinary Services to place LED signs on their respective properties, the Board of Selectmen opted to bring the matter to the planning board to look into the possibility of revising the town’s Land Use Ordinance to allow for such signs in these two parts of the community.

    “We have two requests for LED signs,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said during a Jan. 28 selectmen’s meeting. “Foxcroft Academy is a situation where they are currently zoned in the village and they are the last lot. Their request is to consider whether the Foxcroft Academy grounds would be better suited in a commercial zone.”

    “It’s a project for advancement,” Foxcroft Academy Head of School Arnold Shorey said. “In this age of technology a sign is still important.” He explained the proposed sign, to be located near the tennis courts across from the campus on West Main Street, would adhere to the facade of the school building across the road as well as fit within the Land Use Ordinance guidelines for LED signs with no pictures and just text.

    “There would be no images, just promoting events of the school and of the community,” he said.

    The Foxcroft Academy sign would be used to promote various school events, such as parent/teacher conferences, international food nights, concerts and athletic events. Shorey said Foxcroft Academy would also post various happenings around town on the sign as a service to the community.

    “More appropriately we should not be in the village zone, we are an educational institution but are a business,” Shorey said, saying the school recruits boarding students from across the globe and, as a minor example, says the fees for the school at the transfer station are paid at a business rate. “Communication is very important and this sign would enhance that,” he said.

    Clukey said the next step could be for the selectmen to ask that the planning board look at the Land Use Ordinance, possibly at the planning board’s next meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. “The planning board would basically bring a recommendation back to the selectmen,” he said. “Voters would ultimately approve a zoning change or not.”

    Referring to the request made by Foxcroft Veterinary Services, which was turned down by the planning board due to the LED sign being located away from a commercial zone several miles out of town on Route 7 (a non-electronic sign is permitted) Clukey said, “The thing that both of these have in common is a change to the Land Use Ordinance. This was a request that was made to the planning board and the planning board was not able to grant the permit.”

    Dr. Jeffery D. Kelly of Foxcroft Veterinary Services said, “This sign makes our business move forward. I think it just shows Dover is moving forward; having a progressive veterinary clinic and having people know where their animals are going to be treated is important.”

    Dr. Kelly said during a recent trip to Mount Desert Island he noticed seven LED signs along the way, where several years ago there were none. “This is where things are progressing,” he said. “We are continuing to put forth a positive professional building not only the people inside Foxcroft Veterinary Services can be proud of, but the town can be proud of.”

    He said the establishment has made other upgrades, such as a new ultrasound machine. “Why buy a $20,000 ultrasound? To do better business.”

    “We have been here for 50 years and I want to be here for another 50 years and we want to do it right,” Dr. Kelly said. “We want to grow and be an integral part of the community and also grow our profession.”

    Select Vice Chair Cindy Freeman Cyr thanked Dr. Kelly and Foxcroft Veterinary Services for going through the proper process as they seek to erect an LED sign — which has already been purchased. “I have to say I feel like we just asked the planning board to do this, it’s been less than a year. We really have to have a sense of zoning and why they are and not do this piecemeal.”

    She later expressed concern with multiple LED signs and “how this will change our community, having electronic signs in a rural neighborhood changes that neighborhood.”

    Board member Gail D’Agostino said she wanted to let Foxcroft Veterinary Services know how important it is to the community, mentioning the practice has treated her 16-year-old dog, and Foxcroft Academy “I think is one of our town’s draws. To keep making exceptions to an ordinance that already exists for businesses what’s the purpose of having the ordinance?”

    When asked by Selectman Jane Conroy, Code Enforcement Officer Connie Sands said she has received no complaints about the existing LED signs in the business district on East Main Street.

    “It is possible that we didn’t think of things,” Select Chair Elwood Edgerly said about the process for enacting the current Land Use Ordinance and the potential impact for “businesses that have been here a long time.”

    “We are going to get more requests so I think we should plan ahead,” Selectman Scott Taylor said as the planning board will be presented with the LED sign proposals and may look at possible ordinance revisions.

    In his town manager’s report, Clukey provided an update on a number of developments. He said a meeting was held the previous week on the interior demolition and cleanup on the Moosehead site and the contractor is planning to be on site later next month. Clukey said also in late February the clean-up contractor is expected back at Central Hall to finish the interior remediation.

    He said at the last selectmen’s meeting town officials briefly discussed the impact of reduced municipal revenue sharing in the state budget, which could be $330,000 less for Dover-Foxcroft under an early proposal. Clukey said he is looking to have State Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville) and State Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Ripley) attend the next meeting “to talk about the legislative landscape.”

    Mayo Regional Hospital donated two additional defibrillators to the town, and the recreation committee has discussed having one of the devices placed in the municipal gym.

    Bike Maine will soon be announcing the route of the inaugural ride later in the year, and Dover-Foxcroft will be one of the stops for the approximate 350 participants bicycling across the state. The stop in Dover-Foxcroft is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 8 with bikers arriving in the afternoon, staying on the grounds of the PRYMCA and ball field next to Kiwanis Park and then leaving the next morning.

    “We are really looking forward to hosting this event and this group and showcasing this town,” Clukey said.

    Another upcoming event is a balloon festival on May 31, and Clukey said the organizing committee will be meeting the first Tuesday of every month. The first committee gathering will be Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at the town office.

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