Realty sign fees assailed in Plaistow

Real estate agents in Plaistow are livid over the town’s recent decision to charge them $50 a month for each “For Sale” sign they post in front of homes.

The issue emerged up after a car dealership was ordered to pay the fee when it repainted an old sign to reflect a change in ownership. Former Selectman Barbara Hobbs, who owns the land where the business is located, complained to the town building inspector, saying that if her tenant had to pay, real estate agents should as well.

Inspector Michael Dorman said he hadn’t known that “For Sale” signs required permits, so he looked into the ordinance.

“We couldn’t believe it,” he said. “She was absolutely right.”

Hobbs said her intent was not to penalize the real estate agencies, but to point out how the town mistreats businesses. She said appealing the sign requirement to the Zoning Board of Adjustment would cost up to $100 and called the process a “money-making scheme.”

“The town encourages businesses to come here, but then they impact fee you to death,” she said.

Sheldon Wolff of Wolff Realty Group said he would pay the fees, but he plans to work with his fellow agencies and the town to change the ordinance. The earliest that any changes can be formally proposed to the Planning Board is 120 days before the next town meeting in March.

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