May 28, 2022

Essex Sends Coldwell Banker “Notice of Violation” for Real Estate Advertising Sign at Roundabout

Coldwell Banker signage at the Essex roundabout, Nov. 13

Essex’s Zoning Enforcement Agent Joseph Budrow has sent a “Notice of Violation” to the Essex office of the real estate firm of Coldwell Banker after a finding “that [Coldwell Banker] signage is being placed in a public right-of-way from time to time to promote Open Houses.” “The location of the signage in the in the middle of the roundabout in Essex Square must cease,” the Enforcement Officer wrote in the Notice of Violation, dated December 1.

The Notice was sent to Coldwell Banker’s Essex office on Main Street, c/o Laurel Peters.

The Coldwell Banker signage that triggered the Notice of Violation took place on Sunday, November 13, when one of its brokerage signs was placed next to Essex’s “silent policeman” in the middle of the roundabout at the top of Essex’s Main Street. The sign advertised an Open House by Coldwell Banker real estate agent Laurel Peters, and gave a contact telephone number.

In an interview on November 13, when the sign was in place, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent at the firm’s Essex office, who declined to give her name, said that the posting of real estate signs in the Essex roundabout was a common practice. “Everybody does it,” she said, “particularly on Sundays, when real estate brokers hold open houses at the properties that they are selling.”

Sign on roundabout said to violate Zoning regulations

 Zoning Agent Budrow’s letter to Coldwell Banker said, “The signage appears to violate the Town of Essex’s zoning regulations,” and he cited three regulations.

1) 111A.6, which provides that no sign may be designed in a way “which may be confused with a traffic control sign or signal.”  Budrow said in an interview that this regulation was particularly relevant to the Coldwell Banker sign placed in the roundabout.

2) 111A.9, which provides that a posted sign must be necessary to the same use as the premises on which it is located. (This could mean, for example, that Coldwell Banker can clearly place signs at its office on Main Street, as they are necessary to the business on the premises.)

3) 111C, which lists exceptions to the requirement that signs must be necessary to the use of the premises. The listed exceptions include off premises signs for church and charity events, political signs, signs of civic and fraternal organizations, and museums signs, among others. Real estate signs are not mentioned in any of the exceptions found in regulation 111C.

Permissible signage at Coldwell Banker offices on Main Street

In his Notice of Violation Zoning Enforcement Agent Budrow also wrote, “The Zoning Commission will soon undergo a revision of our current signage regulations, and real estate signs will be addressed as they are currently not listed as allowed at all.”

This appears to mean that off premises real estate advertising signs, unless they are related to the necessary use of the premises under regulation 111A.9, such as a broker’s “for sale” sign on the premises, are currently not permitted in the town of Essex.

Attempts to reach real estate agent Laurel Peters, whose name appeared on the Caldwell Banker sign at the Essex roundabout, were unsuccessful.