Woodstock appoints a task force to solve sign controversy

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

In response to the town’s latest controversy over signage on the sidewalks, Woodstock supervisor Bill McKenna reported that he has “appointed a task force to review the signage issue and make possible zoning law revisions.”

The subject heated up when the town’s Commission for Civic Design (CCD) presented a plan for enhancing the look of Woodstock’s streetscape by better enforcing the town’s sign laws, and looking into creating new policies and ordinances that would lend local signs a less chaotic feel. The town building department meanwhile started working to limit the number of illegal sandwich board signs being used throughout the hamlet’s business core.

Simultaneous to the official business, an ad hoc group of 68 Woodstock businesses and non-profits sent a letter to town board and ZBA members, as well as the secretary to the planning board and CCD, requesting that new enforcement measures “be suspended until such time as a proper review is undertaken. Any such review should include the input of members of the business community.”


The Civic Design folks countered that their board remained “firm in its mission to improve Woodstock streetscapes and respect commercial advertising concerns, but that does not automatically mean the CCD would agree with placing sandwich boards and other types of signage that compromise safety, clutter the streets/sidewalks and violate the Zoning Law.”

Named to the board were five CCD members — James Dougherty, Joan Elliot, Richard Heppner, Cornelia Rosenblum and chairman David Ekroth; five members of the town’s business community — Joanna Bliss, Jemma Bloxham, Alison Garskof, Mial Smoller and Katherine Spada, and one member of the Woodstock Planning Board: James Conrad.

Conrad, it turns out, is a newly-named member of the planning board who also penned the recent business community’s letter regarding signage.

“As a long time Woodstock resident, the Golden Notebook bookstore is my second business venture on Tinker Street, the first being Woodstock Wool Company with Paul Leone in the old Post Office that is now Nancy’s Artisanal, and I’m excited to be a part of the town’s Planning Board,” Conrad noted in a statement. “Supervisor McKenna reached out to me in response to the letters signed by nearly every member of the business district to put together a task force representing the businesses to meet with the CCD board and discuss town signage needs and solutions…I hope my connection to the town’s commercial district will be a benefit to our town’s unique preservation and ongoing development issues,”

No date has yet been set for the task force’s first meeting.

“As this is being pulled together a week out from the Thanksgiving holiday, and the start of the town businesses’ busiest month of the year, we have asked Supervisor McKenna and the CCD board to allow our meeting to be pushed to the start of 2020,” Conrad added. “This will still give us time to tackle issues of signage before spring and the start of the summer season.”