Hometown Diner signs fit at 119/202
There are times when following the letter of the law just isn’t in the best interests of the town. We think that’s the case with the proposed “Hometown Diner” signs Tim Halliday wants to mount on his classic, retro diner business at the crossroads of routes 119 and 202 in Rindge.
Rindge’s sign ordinance was established in 2008 to protect the town’s scenic vistas and to prevent an unmanageable proliferation of them. “This ordinance aims to encourage use of street graphics that are compatible with community character, readable, clear, and not distracting to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and are maintained in good repair,” the ordinance reads. “The following provisions are designed to encourage reasonable uniformity in the size, treatment and presentation of signs in each Zoning District.” These are reasonable and fine aims.
To those ends, the ordinance prohibits a business from erecting more than two signs totaling more than 48 square feet, and no single sign is to exceed 32 square feet. In Halliday’s case, he’s asking the Zoning Board of Adjustment for two variances, one for size and the other for internal illumination of the signs, which are of glass-tube construction.
As Halliday aptly points out, the signs are integral to the historic authenticity of the renovated 1947 Silk City vintage diner. And as we reported in Thursday’s paper, the diner was built in Paterson, N.J., by the great-grandfather of 1971 Franklin Pierce College graduate Les Cooper. Of course, Halliday couldn’t have known of this local connection when he bought the diner and had it transported from Ottawa, Ohio. Cooper contacted us after seeing our coverage of the diner’s arrival. It’s a small world, as they say.
The “Diner” sign is original to the building, while it seems “Hometown” was later added. Halliday is in the midst of applying to have the diner added to the National Register of Historic Places’ database of cultural resources. If you ask us, the addition of the diner to the 119/202 intersection is a real coup for Rindge, especially as the town works to develop an economic identity at that particular gateway. A “Hometown” sign couldn’t be more perfect for a location residents have said they want to better define. Classic diners are nostalgic and, on a route that leads to Market Basket, then Walmart and Hannaford, a diner offers a transition other types of businesses couldn’t.
So when ZBA members sit down with Halliday later this month, on Aug. 27, we hope they’ll have the bigger picture of Rindge’s future in mind, and won’t let the fear of precedent keep them from making exceptions in a case that clearly calls for them.