Keep it bright: Boro considers updated sign rules in business district: updated

Metuchen staff is considering updated sign regulations downtown.

Jennifer Maier, borough administrator, said during the Council meeting earlier this month staff reached out to the Chamber of Commerce previously to discuss the potential for more updated sign regulation. Borough staff wants to meet with the Chamber at an open meeting this month to present recommendations. The meeting would be open and business owners are invited to take part, she said.

“Other businesses are definitely welcome to come speak on that,” she said. No meeting date is set at this point, Maier said in a separate interview after the meeting.

While rules governing things like signs and awnings already exist in Metuchen, Maier said the rules could use updating. “The character of signage in municipalities is changing. [There are] different concepts out there that weren’t there years ago, about what people find attractive,” she said.

Maier declined to give details about the kinds of recommendations staff will present to the Chamber before getting that group’s perspective. “We really want the Chamber’s feedback,” she said.

Maier gave the update in response to a resident’s question about what he called an “ornate” sign on a new business in the borough, Mangia Toscano at Main Street and Hillside Avenue. (I don’t believe this business is open yet, but I could be wrong. I put a call in that went straight to v-mail.)

The resident, Daniel Lebar, said he was asked about the sign by someone walking downtown.

“The sign they’ve mounted seems to be dramatically more ornate than the other signs that the Technical Review Committee has been approving in recent years,” Lebar said at the council meeting.

“The question is, has there been a change at the TRC level with regard to the sign ordinance, that they’ve now changed their standards or that there was something in particular they found especially attractive about the Italian deli’s presentation that entitled it to the more detailed or more ornate design than the TRC has been approving for many years along Main Street,” he said. Lebar added: “The sign ordinance generally is very restrained.”

Here’s my perspective — the more color the better! Main Street would benefit from more ornate, more colorful, more striking signs. The business district should be a more colorful place. After all, that’s what we’re working for, right? To make downtown more pedestrian friendly, more welcoming to crowds. Let the colors shine!

(Update: This post was updated with comments from Maier from a separate interview after the council meeting).

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