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Uncompliant signage at Wilton’s Brookside Mobil get official approval

  • Wilton Zoning Board Chair Neil Faiman listens to a presentation on a request for variances for the existing signs at the Brookside Mobil at the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

After decades of non-compliance, the Brookside Mobil in Wilton was officially granted variances for its signage during a Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting on Tuesday.

The owner of the Mobil, Energy North, discovered that the signs had never been officially approved by the town when it submitted a request to update its pricing sign from a non-electronic sign that uses changeable placards, to an LED-lit display.

It was discovered that the signs were violating several points of the town’s zoning ordinance – that a business was allowed only one sign where Brookside Mobil had three, that signs not be internally lit, and the square footage of allowable signs.

Scott Andrews of New Hampshire Signs, representing Energy North, explained to the zoning board during the Tuesday hearing the non-compliance was never made known to them until their request to update the pricing sign. Andrews said the business was seeking to gain retroactive variances for the Mobil’s advertising and that the signs had already been in place when Energy North purchased the business from its previous owner.

The business was willing to remove the “Brookside” sign, to reduce the non-conformity, said Andrews, by reducing the number and total square footage of signs, but was requesting to keep the internally-lit “Mobil” sign on top of the pricing board and the canopy with the gas logo over the pumps.

“The signs have been in existence for ten years or more,” said Andrews. “The current signs have not been subject to any enforcement in recent memory, if ever. It’s safe to say they’ve become part of the landscape.”

Requiring the owner to remove the sign, he said, would put a harsh burden on them, particularly the canopy sign, which would cost about $15,000 to replace. Also, he said, the Mobil is located in a fairly isolated area that does not have a direct impact on residential neighbors and needs sufficient signage to alert drivers coming down Gibbons Highway that a gas stop is coming up. 

Zoning board member Joanna Eckstrom questioned whether eliminating the Brookside sign would impact the business unduly. Andrews replied that there were other Mobil Stations that simply used the Mobil sign. He said the gas station sign is the bigger draw to to the business and the convenience store sign more incidental to that. 

“The Mobil is the draw,” he said.

Andrews also made a case for updating the pricing sign to an electronic LED sign. Mobil wants the sign because it would be safer for employees to change and more visible to drivers. It would only display two prices, regular and diesel, and would not flash or display graphics other than numbers. The lit sign would be in the same location as the current price sign, and retain the same lit Mobil logo on top.

The board generally agreed that considering the length of time the canopy and price sign had been in place, that they did not see an issue with them remaining.

“We’ve all driven by it a thousand times,” said Zoning Chair Neil Faiman. “It’s a fine use in the area, and you really have to have a sign and a price sign to have a gas station.”

Eckstrom moved to grant Energy North its requested variances, and approval of the update to the price sign, conditioned on the removal of the Brookside Mobil sign. The motion passed unanimously.

A decision of the zoning board may be appealed if a request for reconsideration is filed with the board within 30 days.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.