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article imageVt. agency rules some messages OK in sign dispute

By Martin Laine     Feb 25, 2011 in Politics
It’s only a 3x10-foot sign along a rural highway in Vermont, but it’s caused a lot of headaches for its owner and has state regulators tangled up in their own red tape. Now an apparent compromise has been reached, allowing some messages.
Since 2009, the electronic digital sign in front of Clark’s Trucks in Jericho, Vt., has been flashing messages ranging from emergency road closings to church suppers to community meetings to birthday greetings, mostly for free, occasionally asking for voluntary donations to a community fund for the service.
Last week, the Vermont Travel Information Council, ordered owner Randy Clark, whose family established the business in 1927, to stop the message service, saying it violated state law, and threatened legal action if he did not comply. At about the same time, the town’s planning office informed Clark that the community messages were fine with them, but he could not use the message board to advertise his business.
The Burlington Free Press reports that yesterday the council approved community, church, and charitable messages to be shown on the board. However, they apparently could not resist specifying how long the messages had to be shown. Instead of changing every minute or two, as they had been, they now have to be shown for at least 15 minutes before changing.
Clark was advised that it would take an act of the state legislature to change the regulations, something Clark said he was not inclined to pursue. He expressed his disappointment in the council’s decision, but said he would comply.
“I’ve got to get back to work,” Clark said. “I was disappointed but not surprised. I knew they would not do anything.”
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