HOME PAGE: News - November 18, 2014




No Signs on Bypass?


     by Andrew Martin

     The Limited Access Highway designation of the new Route 100 Alternate Truck Route appears to be causing issues again. While the ban on non-motorized traffic for the new road no longer seems to be an issue, a state statute pertaining to signage on all limited access highways could severely curb the signs that many businesses located along the bypass have placed and can place on their own buildings. Town officials in Morristown are now working with officials from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) to find a workable solution to this potential issue. Many businesses along the route already have signs that would need to be removed if this statute were enforced.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation may require that certain businesses along the new Route 100 alternate truck route remove their signage. A state statute currently prohibits business signs that are primarily visible from limited access highways, such as Interstate 89 or the new bypass. A team from VTrans will likely be coming to Morrisville later this week to determine what signs could possibly be in violation of this state statute. The sign for the new Mattress and Sofa Warehouse seen above, from the end of Professional Drive, is one that VTrans officials have raised issue with in communications with town officials.
- Smith photo

     The statute in question states that “No on-premise or exempt sign may be erected if it is so located as to be readable primarily from a limited access facility.”
     “Since the new VT 100 is a limited access facility, this means that otherwise legal signs must be primarily oriented toward ‘regular’ (i.e. non-limited-access) highways rather than toward the new VT 100,” stated VTrans’ official Kevin Marshia in an email correspondence with Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley. In layman’s terms, this means that the sign or signs of any business along the truck route must primarily be visible from a town road, not the bypass. This is true even if the business or sign lies outside the right-of-way of the highway.
     “There is no 100-foot exclusion zone;” Marshia explained, “It’s permissible for a sign to be incidentally visible from the limited access facility as long as its primary orientation is toward the town highway.”
     “Basically, if a sign happens to face a town road it’s ok, even if it’s also visible from the bypass,” explained Morristown Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas.
     Marshia went on to explain that VTrans is required by law to enforce this statute consistently around the state. He did also add that discretion
must be used by both the sign owner and VTrans in each possible situation.  
     “As this is a new highway with its own unique circumstances there is a learning curve for all of us in adhering to the statute…” Marshia added.
     According to Todd Thomas, the enforcement of this statute would require that a number of the businesses along the truck route remove or cover their signs. While some of the businesses are actually located along the new town road, Old Creamery Road, and have their signage facing that road many others do not have that luxury. The fact that the other access road on that side of the bypass, Gallery Lane, is a private road means that the businesses in that area do not have a town road nearby to orient their signs toward. The next closest road, Professional Drive, is also a private road.  
     Thomas further explained that he has been approving signage permits for many of these businesses due to the fact that they are allowed under Morristown zoning. He stated that he plans to continue doing so, but is now warning business owners that the state may require them to remove the signs if the statute is fully enforced. However, he added that the town plans to take a stand for those businesses.
     “The Town is going to do its best to help all the businesses,” Thomas stated.
     “These businesses are only accessible from the truck route, and the state is now saying they can’t have a sign,” he added, “It’s pretty hard to do business without a sign.”
     He further explained that he feels that the best way to remedy this problem is in Montpelier.
     “We need a legislative fix,” Thomas stated, “The law needs to be tweaked…We need to work with legislators to find something that fits the situation that exists in Morrisville.”
     “You can’t compare a limited access highway like the bypass to Interstate 89,” he added, explaining that the statute applies to both types of highway in the same way despite the fact that the two roads are so different.

     “In my opinion, treating signage on the Truck Route like I-89 is not an apples to apples comparison,” he stated in an email sent out to all land and business owners along the bypass.
      Thomas also explained that the Route 100 bypass is even different from the bypass recently completed by VTrans in Bennington.
     “That bypass is not in a developed area,” he stated, “Part of our bypass was built through an existing developed area.”
     As part of the negotiations between Morristown officials and the Vermont Agency of Transportation a meeting and site visit will be taking place later this week. An entire team from VTrans will be attending in order to help interpret the law, decide how to enforce it, and determine which signs and businesses it applies to. Thomas has already notified land and business owners along the route of the impending meeting and reasons in his email and will be updating those individuals when an actual time and place for the meeting is determined.



This Week's Photos

"I have always been committed to Stowe:  from opening Ferro Jewelers back in 2006, renting the space in the former Stafford pharmacy to purchasing the building, renovating it, and finally bringing in Plate and Coldwell Banker real estate.  My wife and I are proud to be part of this strong community and helping to revitalize this historic building on Main Street.  We greatly appreciate and thank all of those who have been supportive of us through this process and look forward to being an integral part of the town."
- Bryan Ferro, Owner of Ferro Properties & Ferro Estate & Custom Jewelers

Community members gathered to celebrate the future home of the Morrisville Food Co-op (MoCo) at 46 Pleasant Street in downtown Morrisville! The building was purchased by Bob and Susan Titterton, with the intention of eventually leasing the ground floor to MoCo once membership levels grow and sufficient capital is raised. Want to see this co-op open in downtown Morrisville? Become a member-owner today! Visit www.morrisvillecoop.com or call 802-498-8611, 802-498-8611.

Dominique Couture and WLVB’s Roland Lajoie get their turkey on, as part of Chris’s Challenge - WLVB’s annual Turkey Drive that winds up this week in preparation for distributing turkey’s to those in need next week for Thanksgiving.





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