WALDOBORO, Maine — A decision by local selectmen to waive an ordinance concerning the size of signs to allow the Family Dollar retail store to open in town is raising questions.
Chuck Campbell, chairman of the town planning board, said he was unaware the selectmen waived the maximum size limit until the day after its vote.
“I know of no process for the selectboard to arbitrarily waive an ordinance requirement,” Campbell said.
He said he planned to stop at the town office Friday and speak to officials about that action.
The maximum size for a sign allowed under the ordinance is 32 square feet, Campbell said.
According to Town Manager Linda Jean Briggs, one sign at Family Dollar would be attached to the building, facing Route 1, and it would measure about 25 feet long by 3 feet high — totaling about 75 square feet. There also will be a free-standing sign of about 30 square feet.
Campbell said the free-standing sign meets the ordinance.
The planning board chairman said the company requested a larger sign during its review last month, saying Family Dollar has a standard sign size at their stores. The company representative at the meeting indicated it would seek a waiver from the town’s zoning board, which Campbell said he does not believe the company did.
The planning board approved the project but required the company to meet the sign ordinance.
Selectmen held a closed-door meeting Tuesday evening, then came out to vote to allow Family Dollar to have a sign larger than the town ordinance allows. The town manager said the sign will be similar in size to many others that exceed the limit on businesses in the community.
Campbell acknowledged there were other signs that exceeded the limit but said those were separate issues that should be addressed.
Briggs called the sign ordinance “age-old” and said it is not consistent with the current economic climate and needs of businesses. She said the issue would likely be forwarded to town committees to look at amending the ordinance.
Briggs said the decision by Family Dollar to build a store in the community was “fabulous news.”
“We’ve had little commercial growth in the community, and — dare I say — this is a shot in the arm,” she said.
Briggs explained selectmen discussed the sign waiver in executive session because it involved economic development in which premature disclosure of information could jeopardize the project.
The company will build an approximately 8,000-square-foot store on a vacant Route 1 lot across from the Harold C. Ralph auto dealership.
Family Dollar will be a success, the town manager said, because it will fit the demographics of the local area.
The store will employ eight to 10 people, with some working full time and some part time, according to Bryn Winburn, the public and media relations manager for Family Dollar. She said the store expects to begin construction in the fall and open during the first quarter of 2015.
Winburg said Thursday she was looking into the signage issue.
There are 8,000 Family Dollar stores in 46 states across the United States. The company employs 50,000 people.