‘Taco Bell’ sign gets political

Freeman avoids $550 a day fine by adding an endorsement

After being warned that the “Coming Soon: Taco Bell” sign he placed on his land was in violation of a sign ordinance and that he was subject to fines of up to $550 per day, Dublin General Store owner Andy Freeman has altered the sign to comply, and he says it will stay where it is.

Article 6 on Dublin’s town ballot could mean that amendments to the zoning ordinance will allow drive-throughs in the Residential Commercial District, and Village and Rural districts by special exception from the town’s Zoning Board. A group of residents have formed a committee in response to the Article, which they say was not properly researched by the Planning Board and goes against the town’s Master Plan.

The Residential Commercial District is located around the intersection of Route 101 and Route 137 in Dublin. That is the area in dispute right now since plans to renovate the Cheshire Oil gas station there included a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through.

Freeman, a member of the resident committee, placed a sign on his land along Route 101 protesting the amendment, which has drawn criticism from pro-Article 6 residents who said the sign, which read “Coming Soon: Taco Bell,” is in violation of the town’s sign ordinance.

Freeman was issued a cease and desist order by the building inspector and told that if the sign remained he would be fined $275 for the first day and $550 for every day thereafter.

In response to the order, Freeman altered the sign, he said, adding additional wordage making it legally in line with town sign zoning ordinance.

According to Dublin’s Code Enforcement Officer Michael Borden, Freeman’s sign did not initially match the town’s ordinance, but does now, since it has been altered to reflect a specific political candidacy.

“I have had a running dialogue with the town’s code enforcement officer,” wrote Freeman in an email. “In an attempt to make the sign more palatable and in line with current sign ordinances I have added, ‘Vote no on Article 6,” and ‘Vote for Macy and Morris.’”

He also wrote that he will be placing a second sign somewhere soon, but has not yet disclosed where.

“This is an important issue to Dublin, my family and me,” said Freeman in the email. “We are on the edge of changing Dublin’s landscape forever. Metered, thoughtful economic growth can not include a jump of this magnitude.”

“The Sign is still up,” wrote Freeman in an email. “The sign will stay.”

Hayden James can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or hjames@ledgertranscript.com.

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