Dennisport Village Wayfinding Signs – Some Comments and Discussion

Since I posted the revised version of the Village Wayfinding Signs Proposal on July 23rd I have received a number of comments.  I will try to address these below:

First, the minimum bottom height of 7 feet was questioned as being to low by Hank Bowen from the Dennisport Revitalization Committee.  After reviewing this, I would have to agree.  I would be able to touch the bottom panel standing flat-footed.  I then went out to the street signs here in South Dennis and found that the street signs are 8 feet above grade, a height that is at least a bit more difficult to vandalize or steal. I am now suggesting that a minimum 8 foot ground clearance be established for the bottom panel and a maximum of a 13 foot top height be put into place.

I also received a comment regarding referencing Dennisport in the by-law from ZBA and Sign Committee member Richard Zinner.  The feeling was, to make people infinitely aware that this was targeting just Dennisport that we add more references to the village itself in the by-law, such as referencing a Dennisport Village Wayfinding Sign Program and a Dennisport Village Wayfinding Sign Committee where appropriate through-out the by-law. At first I thought this might be over-kill and would simply add to the length of the proposal, but, since I got a lengthy comment that continued to think of the proposal in a town-wide manner, if it clarifies that this is a Dennisport specific proposal, these changes should be made.

Finally, I received a lengthy comment from Thomas and Leslie Gardner, that I provide below, with my responses to each comment.

1. At a maximum height of 12′ with a minimum 7′ clearance, the signs would be rather tall and still somewhat disproportionate to the scale of the various historic districts. Visually the upper portion would be almost unreadable from a standard automobile within close proximity of the sign. It appears that all of these specifications are designed to avoid vandalism, a nice idea but it will not succeed in practice. The existing directional signage in Dennis Village may be an appropriate guide.

The 7 foot bottom clearance is the minimum the Federal Highway Administration allows for clearance for street signs. In fact, this leaves the bottom sign panel in what is traditionally considered the safe site area that highway officials like to have left clear of obstructions. Standing flat footed I will be able to slap the bottom panel on such a sign. I measured a couple of the street signs here in the South Dennis Historic District and can report that the street names are located 8 feet above grade. When you think about the Village Wayfinding Signs, the idea would be to have an area that is 6 sf occupied above the typical street name sign.

2. The three slats limitation combined with the 500′ business destination requirement may be impractical in many cases given the natural clustering of businesses. The provision for accessory information is impractical since most business owners will forget that they have “temporary” information 500′ away. And, at over 7′, how can they reach them?

The three slat limitation is found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and is a Federal restriction we cannot exceed that. This led to the 500 foot limitation to control the number of destinations or businesses that might be eligible. The temporary information attempts to address an issue where people are placing out illegal sandwich signs at particular intersections to announce special activities. Since this is most likely the bottom panel a small step ladder provides easy access whether the bottom of the panel is at 7 feet as proposed or 8 feet which has come in as a recommendation from others. It is probably also the lowest priority when thinking of what gets space on a Wayfinding Sign.

 3. Since the “wayfinding” signs would be most effective along principal routes of travel, 6A, and #28 in specific, the 500′ may be too short for businesses, such as motels, which are located closer to the beaches.

You are correct that the wayfinding signs will most likely be along Route 28, and Upper and Lower County Roads. They will provide directions for attractions such as Mike Stacy Park which is about 500 feet from Route 28 or a business like the Hydrangea House located between Upper County Road and Route 28. They are not intended to replace the existing ladder signs which direct people to these more distant destinations.

4. One of the primary destinations for many visitors is our beaches. Should we consider the inclusion of these destinations rather than having separate signage? Should historic destinations and museums be included? What else?

The specific destinations on the wayfinding signs will be determined by the committee appointed by the Selectmen for Dennisport. Parks, museums, etc. along with business destinations or a library are all possible.

5. How is the “appropriate Village Committee” selected,; how large should it be; what interests should be represented; how will it be funded (the cost of the signs and the placement); and what authority will it have? In short, the process of how this project might be accomplished is ignored except that the placement of signage will be on a first come first serve basis.

The “appropriate village committee” will be designated by the Selectmen. Given this targets Dennisport it will, quite likely, be the Dennisport Revitalization Committee whose Design Charrette led to the original recommendation for these signs. The “appropriate” committee is to develop the plan (a requirement of the MUTCD) and make a formal recommendation to the Selectmen for implementation. As to your other questions, the by-law allows such a sign it will be up to Dennisport’s designated committee to determine how it chooses to implement the by-law. If a sign has commercial information on it, there is a funding source that would govern a portion of the costs. The village logo that occupies the top of the sign (2 sf) might cost more than the individual panels. The appropriate committee might decide that only 10 signs should go into the Dennisport Village Center area and, at least at the start, nowhere else in the village. Then they would decide what public destinations to put onto those signs that meet the 500 foot restriction.

IF there are panels available after those decisions, then they could open it up to commercial destinations, or choose to not have any commercial destinations. The committee could also choose to pursue a grant to cover the signage, there are several communities who have gotten various types of funding to implement village wayfinding sign programs. The Dennisport Revitalization Committee has been very successful in pursuing grants over the past several years for village improvements.

 6. Although the proposed amendment has now been limited to Dennisport, one would assume that it would ultimately apply to all the villages. Therefore, any discussion should be in terms of all the villages not just Dennisport.

Last spring we were asked to restrict this just to Dennisport as they initiated the entire concept. As such it has been pared back to just that village in response to concerns from other parts of town, after discussing the ability to implement such a limitation with the Attorney General’s Office. Dennisport has an idea of what they are looking for and would like to pursue a wayfinding sign program. Dennisport is not seeking to implement this in other parts of town.

After I provided this response to the Gardner’s the provided the following feedback:

Thank you for taking the time to give me a thorough understanding of what is being proposed and why. Given the various restrictions, the framework for the signage does make sense. I gather then that the Federal Hwy Administration regulations apply to state highways.

Control in Dennisport by the Dennisport Revitalization Committee also makes perfect sense given what they have accomplished to date.

Bottom line, it appears appropriate to try this in Dennisport and see what it looks like and whether the concept is advantageous for the community. If it is successful from all perspectives, then it should be considered by the other villages within Dennis.

Dan, again thank you for your detail response.


I did point out that the MUTCD applies to all public roads and therefor it applies to all the town streets in Dennisport. I asked them for permission to post their questions as they might help others wrestling with understanding this issue.

I am now trying to incorporate the necessary changes into one document for discussion with the Economic Development Committee.  Tentatively, this will be on Thursday September 13th at 9 am here in Town Hall.  I will post more information shortly with the exact day and time.


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