Town Council: Let’s wait a month before removing signs

Manager: Town is exempt from its own sign ordinances

By Josh Bickford
Posted 5/2/23

The Barrington Town Council will wait a month before deciding what to do with the new monument signs that were installed in the center of town recently.  

At their meeting on Monday, May 1, …

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Town Council: Let’s wait a month before removing signs

Manager: Town is exempt from its own sign ordinances


The Barrington Town Council will wait a month before deciding what to do with the new monument signs that were installed in the center of town recently. 

At their meeting on Monday, May 1, Council members discussed the new signs. 

Carl Kustell said the signs do not reflect the “vibe” of the community and he wanted to see them removed. 

Kate Berard felt similarly. She said they appeared to be “wildly out of place” with the rest of the town. Berard said she received emails from residents who do not like the signs. Berard also questioned the location of the signs.

Rob Humm said he was a member of the Economic Development Commission when it reviewed the plan for the signs years ago. He said he checked his notes and said that the EDC thought the signs were too tall and members did not like the lettering. 

Humm said he still feels that way, although he said the monument signs are starting to grow on him. 

He also cautioned against reacting too quickly to the social media attack on the signs. He said it could be an overreaction. 

Humm then asked if people would be willing to wait a month before deciding if the signs should stay or go. 

Other Councilors seemed receptive to that idea, although Kustell said he could not imagine his feelings about the signs would change in the next 30 days.

Annelise Conway supported Humm’s request for a one-month pause before deciding what to do. Conway also asked if the new monument signs violated the town’s zoning ordinances. 

Barrington Town Manager Phil Hervey said the town is exempt from its own zoning requirements. 

Hervey also offered a little background on the new signs — he said the banner directionals (which have not yet been installed) had followed a thorough review process, having gone before the Planning Board, Technical Review Committee and EDC. That process, he said, started in 2014. 

The monument signs were added to the way-finding initiative in 2018, he said, and only went before the EDC. 

Conway said the town’s signs and branding seemed a bit disjointed. She referenced Barrington’s town seal, which is in the process of getting redesigned — Hervey has pushed for the town to have a contest to redesign the town seal. 

Councilor Braxton Cloutier said he has never seen the monument signs, and said the meeting was getting late.

Kustell said the monument signs would be added to the June Council agenda, and then opened up the discussion to the public. 

Paige Barbour said the pillar signs are “horrible.” She said her friends from Bristol and Warren get a good laugh when they drive by the signs. Barbour said it was a “no-brainer”: Take down the signs.

Barrington resident Loredana Pollonio-Lister said the pillar signs should be moved down Maple Avenue near the emergency walk-in clinic, joking that they look similar to hospital signs. In fact, other people at the meeting said the signs look like subway station markers. Barrington resident James Bessel said his wife told him the signs remind her of the Paris Metro. 

Pollonio-Lister and Blaise Rein suggested town officials plant some climbing plants near the signs, so that they could serve as trellises. 

Mary Grenier brought up a more serious point. She said Barrington has many restrictions and codes the govern signs for businesses. She said the current signs fail to keep in line with the regulations Barrington places on dozens of shop owners. 

In addition to allowing for another month’s time before deciding what to do with the monument signs, the Council also decided to delay installing a series of smaller banner directional signs that were part of the way-finding sign initiative. 

Hervey and Kustell debated that point for a few minutes. Kustell later said the sign initiative has been going on for a decade and there is no harm in waiting another month.

Hervey also said the signs cost more than $58,000 — the work was paid for by a grant and town funds. 

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.