Farmers Market Signs, Senior Center Enrollment on BOS Agendas

October 11, 2013
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

Farmers Market Signs Forbidden from Right-Of-Way

Signs for the farmers market cannot be posted on town land or commercial property per ruling of selectmen last week, September 30, citing its operation as an enterprise.

Members of the Salem Farmers Market have been battling selectmen for permission to post directional signs every Sunday when the market is open.  The organization was told over the summer to remove existing signs but was later permitted to post them while the market was open.

The board has now decided they can’t be placed on town right-of-ways or commercial property indefinitely.

Farmers Market Director Jane Lang said the signs were critical for business.  She said during a period of time over the summer when the market wasn’t allowed to post signs, patronage suffered.  “There was defiantly a decline in our attendance,” she said.  “It’s really important we get these signs on the day of the market.”

Salem resident Eunice Miller told selectmen she operates a small chocolate business and the farmers market is her only means of retail.  She said when signs were taken down, sales suffered.  “In the two weeks the signs weren’t up, sales dropped dramatically,” she said.

Selectman Michael Lyons said the market was operating as an enterprise and allowing sign placement would provide an unfair advantage over competing local businesses.

“You moved from being a community event to really an enterprise,” Lyons told Lang, saying when the event was held only twice a year on the grounds of Hedgehog Park, it was more of a community event.

Selectman Stephen Campbell agreed.  “The individuals selling there are businesses,” he said.

Despite the board’s arguments, Selectman Patrick Hargreaves motioned to allow six sign locations on town right-of-ways.  “It’s a benefit to the community,” he said.  “To me, they proved it.”

Hargreaves continued saying a town ordinance allows for the board to grant special permission to an organization when there is a public benefit.  “This is a benefit to the Town of Salem,” he said.

Selectman James Keller said the constitution states, if the board allowed one sign to be erected, they could not stop other signs.

Keller, a planning board member and chairman for many years, said he was well educated in the area.  “If we allow placement of signs in town property, they we have to allow signs there as well,” he said.

Chairman Everett McBride told Lang she could post signs on private residential property with the owner’s consent.

The board voted 4-1 against Hargreaves proposal.

Selectmen Cap Senior Center Enrollment – Non-Residents Limited to 400

As the popularity of the Ingram Senior Center increases programs fill quickly and the building runs out of space and parking.  These challenges forced selectmen to limit out of town enrollment Monday, October 7.

Currently about 20 percent of senior center enrollment comes from out of town members, 381 as of Monday.  Director of Senior Services Patti Drelick asked selectmen to cap out-of-town enrollments at 400, limiting the center from exciding capacity.

“This cap at 400 will accommodate all of those who are with us now,” she said.  Once full, applying non-residents will be placed on a waiting list.

But the cap doesn’t affect Salem residents.  Drelick said the center would continue accepting new resident members indefinitely.

Selectman Patrick Hargreaves raised concerns over a long-time Salem resident moving out of town and being forced to give up their membership.

Selectman Stephen Campbell echoed Hargreaves concerns.  He proposed allowing former residents of five or more years to receive priority on the wait list.  “Their taxes went to help pay for the building,” he said.

The board decided to split non-residents into two groups, past Salem residents and non-residents.  They cited a resident may move to another town to live with family members.

The board voted unanimously to place the limit on non-residents and sub-divide the group.

Drelick said the limit will help prevent programs from filling and not allowing members to participate.

Locals interested in joining the center must be 60 or older.