TOPSHAM — Topsham selectmen agreed to allow businesses to temporarily disobey the town’s sign rules and post signs to advertise they are open.

Currently, the town only allows certain types of signs in certain areas of town.

Selectwoman Ruth Lyons said while the town has rules regulating signs, “I think anything extra as long as it’s not really obnoxious to help these businesses with signs saying we’re open, and the hours we’re open… Anything that we can do to help them.”

These are uncertain times that call for any efforts to help businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lyons argued.

Gov. Janet Mills limited social gatherings to 10 people and closed restaurants to dining as of March 18 to help stop the spread of the virus. Mills unveiled her rural reopening plan on May 8 which allowed retail stores and restaurants to open May 11 to in-store and some dine-in service in counties where community transmission is not present. That includes Sagadahoc County and 11 other rural counties and requires enhanced safety precautions.

Lyons proposed allowing businesses to put out small sandwich signs or a small banner to help promote businesses that are open. The signs will be allowed until July 15.

Selectman David Douglass was the lone dissenting vote for Lyon’s motion on the temporary sign allowance, due to the lack of specific sign requirements. The debate about allowing signs has been a toxic issue in town in the past, he added.

Selectman Roland Tufts encouraged businesses to get permission for the property owner before posting a sign.


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