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New sign bylaws will try to avoid the ‘Las Vegas’ look


AYER — Concerns about downtown signage dominated the Planning Board’s monthly meeting, with the need to help businesses balanced against the “Las Vegas” look.

Moore Lumber President Calvin Moore sent a letter to the board asking for the bylaws regarding signage to be reviewed and possibly amended, so businesses could attract a larger clientele.

“I’d be the first to say I don’t like the current sign bylaws for businesses,” Planning Board member Mark Fermanian said. “I’d like to look (at the bylaw). It definitely needs to be revisited, but I don’t want to have Vegas here, either.”

Planning Board member James Lucchesi commented that the town had a Sign Bylaw Committee several years ago, but was unsure of what happened to the committee or their findings.

At first, Lucchesi suggested forming a new subcommittee consisting of business owners, a member of both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals and Building Commissioner Gabe Vellante, to discuss what changes they would like to see in the sign bylaws. Ultimately, the Planning Board decided that would take too long.

“We need this board to start looking at this right away,” Planning Board Chairman Peter Johnston said. “We want to get this done right away so it’s ready for the fall town meeting at the latest.”

Fermanian suggested meeting with Moore and Vellante to discuss the changes and have a written proposal ready for either the May or June Planning Board meeting.

“Vegas here we come,” Fermanian joked.

In other business before the board, Jim Lattanzi, owner and head chef of Cowboy Jim’s BBQ, approached the board regarding changing the use of land on the Gervais Ford used car lot.

Lattanzi requested approval to park and serve lunch from his 30-foot long truck from the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the property.

“I’ve already visited with the chief of police with concerns of people pulling in and out and he had none,” Lattanzi told the board. “My truck would be set far enough back to not affect the sight of drivers entering the rotary.”

Lucchesi asked Lattanzi why he was looking to set up his business on that lot.

“This is the perfect location,” Lattanzi said. “The traffic patterns, customers and the town of Ayer itself.”

The current zoning of the land is for general business, which Cowboy Jim’s would fall under. The board passed the motion unanimously.

Lattanzi started Cowboy Jim’s in Lunenburg, serving items such as pulled pork sandwiches, barbecue chicken and steak tips to the late night crowds from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lattanzi has already been inspected by the Nashoba Board of Health and expects to open on the first of May.

* Former Planning Board Chairman Pat Walsh, who resigned on March 18 due to health reasons, will be honored at next month’s meeting.

“We will be showing our appreciation to Pat Walsh for all she’s done for the Town of Ayer and the Planning Board,” Johnston said.

Engineer Scott Carlisle has submitted his name to the Planning Board to be appointed to Walsh’s empty seat for the remainder of her term, which is one year.

“I value your interest in our town and our board,” Johnston told Carlisle.

Since the decision is not solely up to the Planning Board, they voted unanimously in favor of bringing Carlisle to a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen to have him appointed.