Town of Falmouth, former U.S. Senate candidate near resolution of controversial dispute over letter height on sign
FALMOUTH, Maine — A resolution of the acrimonious dispute over a Route 1 business sign could be before the Town Council by the end of January.
Town Manager Nathan Poore on Friday confirmed that a deal is in the works between the town and Tidesmart Global CEO Steve Woods. But he said he could not go into details because nothing has been drafted.
Woods, chairman of the Yarmouth Town Council and a former independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, said Thursday that he met with Poore and other town staff Dec. 18 to resolve the dispute that erupted last August.
At their Aug. 27, 2012, meeting, councilors were scheduled to discuss the “introduction of an amendment to the Zoning and Site Plan Review Ordinance to revise the requirements for Property Identification Sign.” The amendment would have made minor changes to the town’s ordinance to accommodate TideSmart’s sign, which does not comply with a town ordinance requiring accent lettering to be 5 inches tall — the word “Global” on the TideSmart sign is 4 inches tall.
Instead, they spent more than 45 minutes berating Woods and his company, and demanding that he fix the sign or pay a fine.
“This is not an idiot,” Councilor Bonny Rodden said during the discussion. “He doesn’t respect us, he doesn’t respect our rules and he doesn’t respect the business community.”
Councilor Chris Orestis called for a “big ‘ole fine,” and said a smaller fine would be comparable to simply paying off a parking ticket.
After the meeting, which Woods did not attend, Woods called councilors’ comments “egregious” and said that instead of discussing the ordinance, they spent the time smearing his Senate campaign.
He also dropped plans to build a $3 million office building on the TideSmart campus at 380 U.S. Route 1.
“If I can’t do business with a sign, how can I try to work with them on a building,” Woods, who is now a candidate for governor in 2014, said in September.
Later in September, the council called for Woods to bring his sign into compliance, but Woods contended that it would cost him several thousand dollars to implement the change and asked the council for a consent agreement, which it refused to grant.
Woods said Thursday that he believes Poore is now working with the Planning Board to come up with a resolution that is not “punitive.” He said he is happy to be moving forward.
“The meeting was very positive and cooperative,” Woods said. “Until [a resolution] is complete and until the Planning Board and the Falmouth Town Council look at it, I don’t want to get too in front of the issue, but I was pleased we sat down and I’m pleased that my sign and wall will stay intact and I’m hopeful that we will all move forward and I continue to have a positive and supportive relationship with Falmouth and the Falmouth Town Council.”
Orestis, who originally opposed a consent agreement with Woods, on Tuesday said that he would like to see a cooperative resolution to this ongoing debate.
“I would, first and foremost, like to see that our rules and regulations are being followed and equally applied, but I want to see amicable resolution,” the councilor said.