Digital signage, microbreweries to be discussed at Town Meeting

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Digital signage, microbreweries to be discussed at Town Meeting
Town Meeting will consider changing the bylaws to extend digital signage privileges to more businesses across town. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – On May 20, Shrewsbury’s 240 elected representatives will convene at Oak Middle School for this year’s Annual Town Meeting.

Town Meeting will consider changing the bylaws to extend digital signage privileges to more businesses across town.

Article 42 would allow digital signage, or “digital message boards,” in more zones throughout Shrewsbury. In multifamily residential districts, limited business districts, the Town Center district, and the neighborhood business district, the Planning Board could approve digital signage and set the frequency the signage can change. The proposed amendment also allows for digital signs in other areas, like commercial-business and limited industrial districts.

“The proposed language includes specific design standards… It’s important to know that this would not be permitted in single-family residential areas. It would primarily be looking at commercial areas and multifamily residential areas,” Director of Planning and Economic Development Christopher McGoldrick said on May 10.

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The proposed bylaws contain several restrictions on digital signage usage.

Only one digital sign would be allowed per property provided that designs do not change more than hourly and do not include flashing or moving lights. The signs must not be bright enough that they “impair the vision or endanger the safety and welfare of any pedestrian,” and may not include any “movement, animation, audio, video, pyrotechnics, or other special effects.”

The message board would only be able to advertise services or goods available on the property, and signs must not be illuminated 30 minutes before opening or after closing. The proposed amendments to the bylaws affect digital displays visible through business windows, and contain special provisions for municipally owned buildings.

Something (may soon be) brewing in Shrewsbury

Town Meeting will also be asked to take the first step to attract breweries to Shrewsbury.

Articles 46, 47, 48 and 49 would amend the town bylaws and define brew pub. Defining — and subsequently zoning for — brewery-related businesses would allow Shrewsbury to attract these companies. In the months leading up to Town Meeting, McGoldrick repeatedly hinted that a taproom-related business was interested in moving to Shrewsbury, although he did not reveal the company’s identity.

“We were approached by a brewery that was looking at a number of sites in town. Looking for an approximately 18,000-square-foot, 20,000-square-foot facility or a site that would accommodate that. They have a number of locations. We unfortunately had to say that unless we were able to bring this to Town Meeting, we could not consider that under existing zoning,” McGoldrick said.

“That was part of the impetus of doing this. It was the realization that we were not allowing this in a number of viable sites,” he added.

A brew pub, according to the proposed bylaws, is a smaller, restaurant-like business that produces malt beverages like beer, ales and hard ciders. The brew pubs may have a commercial element, but the amount of beverage sold to other vendors or businesses is capped at 25% of production capacity.

Microbreweries and nanobreweries are currently permitted only in the Town Center district. The Town Meeting articles would permit the businesses in the Lakeway Overlay District, Route 20 Overlay District, and the Edgemere Village Overlay District (with microbreweries allowed only by special permit in each instance).

A change to farmers markets

Shrewsbury has one of the most restrictive definitions of farmers market in the state. Article 43 may change that.

Currently, farmers markets in Shrewsbury have been able to have at most 12% of the vendors not selling produce. The current bylaws’ limit on crafters — companies that produce soap, jewelry, paintings, etc. — has made the event restrictive.

If voters accept Article 43, the definition will be amended, requiring a simple majority of vendors to be produce-related businesses.

Town Meeting will start at 7 p.m. and feature 54 articles. For more information on Town Meeting, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/1238/AnnualTown-Meeting.

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