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Farmer Dave’s urged to sow the seeds of collaboration for sign project

Apr 27, 2020 02:34PM ● By Lisa Redmond

 DRACUT – Farmer Dave’s idea just didn’t seem to take root with the Board of Selectmen.

David Dumaresq, owner of Farmer Dave’s farm at 437 Parker Road, appeared before the selectmen on Tuesday via Zoom to request a special permit to erect five “Trailblazing” signs around Dracut. The signage at intersections would direct people to the farm at 437 Parker Road.

But objections by board members and other farm owners in this agriculturally-rich community were focused on the fear of creating “sign clutter.’’

Dumaresq explained that Trailblazer signs are part of the little-known, 20-year old Agricultural Directional Signage program that offers directional signs that can be placed at various locations in a community to point the way to a farm’s location.

Farmer Dave’s at 437 Parker Road, meets the criteria for the program because it is a working farm open to the public and it is not located along a state highway, but deep within a community. These signs are custom-made and attached to poles.

“I wanted to pursue any promotion of local agriculture,’’ Dumaresq told the board.

Selectman Chair Jesse Forcier requested more information about who erects and maintains the signs. Forcier, like other board members, said he was contacted by several local farmers who oppose the board granting a special permit for the signs.

“My opposition is sign clutter,’’ said Carol Ogonowski, of the Ognowski Farm at 713 Broadway Road in Dracut. “I don’t like the idea of the character of Dracut being trashed by signs.’’

She was particularly opposed to Dumaresq’s request to erect a sign at the intersection of Route 113 and Wheeler Road.  The location is close to the Ogonowski Farm and even closer to the memorial for her brother John Ogonowski, an American Airlines pilot killed in the terrorist attacks on 911.

As for a sign next to the Ogonowski memorial, Forcier said “I will not go for that.’’

Since each pole can hold multiple signs, given the number of farms in town, the poles could “look like a totem pole,’’ said Selectman Joseph DiRocco.

Selectman Alison Hughes said she questions if agreeing to these signs will set a precedent. Hughes noted the Dracut Agricultural Commission weighed in on the issue. It was the commission’s suggesting that a collaborative effort be made between the farmers in town.

“I agree with collaboration,’’ said Selectman Tony Archinski, who added he received five calls from people who opposed this – all five were farmers.

Dumaresq explained his intent is not to be the only farmer who uses this state program, but to be the first in Dracut.

Roberta Hoffman, who comes from a farming family, said she supports Dumaresq in his request.

“I don’t see what the big problem is…We need to direct people to farms,’’ Hoffman said. “I don’t want Dave to take the fall for being the first one to step forward,’’ she said.

But Caroline Zuk, of Saja Farm at 403 Parker Road, told the selectmen, “The nature of farming is that…if a farm is a successful people will find it.’’

Once these signs are installed “it sets a precedent’’ and setting in motion for other farms to request signs. “I’m for reducing sign clutter,’’ she added.

Dumaresq told the board that this state program has been successfully used for farms in other towns. “So, I’m a little surprised there is so much pushback,’’ he said.

The selectmen voted to continue the public hearing until its May meeting urging Dumaresq to work with other farmers in town to create a collaborative resolution.

 

 

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