Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 27, 2014

Bancroft School signs raise hackles of neighbors

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — It’s back to the drawing board for two signs proposed for the entrance roads to the new Bancroft School.

The Zoning Board of Appeals recently told the architect to scale back the signs after some neighbors objected to their size.

With the new, $50 million elementary school due to open in the fall, architects are putting the finishing touches on the project, including oversized signs marking the two entrances to the school.

One, two-sided sign would be placed at the Bancroft Road entrance, while another, single-sided sign would be placed on West Knoll Road.

The signs originally proposed by architect Peter Lukacic of SMMA in Cambridge were about 5 feet, 6 inches high and about 6 feet long. Plans called for them to be set on white posts about 3 feet off the ground, similar to new signs at other local schools, just a bit larger.

When appeals board Chairman David Brown asked at a meeting if anyone in the audience wanted to speak about the plans, a half-dozen hands shot up. Neighbors of the school then crowded around the dais and looked at images of the proposed signs.

“They’re rather large and they are far away from the building,” Tom Williams of 133 Holt Road said. “I’d be viewing the back of these signs from my property.”

Williams said the school is already large, and signs of that size would be unnecessary.

“Anybody going down West Knoll Road is either going to the school or lives on the street,” he said.

According to the architect, West Knoll Road will be used as the access road for buses, while the Bancroft Road entrance will be for parents dropping off or picking up their children.

Brown questioned the need for such a large sign at the secondary entrance on West Knoll Road. Lukacic agreed the sign could be smaller and said he would return to the building committee to get its input.

As for the Bancroft Road sign, Lukacic said it replicates what’s already there.

Lucy Vaill of 9 Bancroft Road said the builders have done a good job incorporating the new school into the neighborhood, but she was concerned that a large sign would have a negative impact on the residents.

“You don’t want the sign to jump out at you,” she said. “Just make it fit in.”

Tom Bosher of 159 Holt Road also said both signs should be smaller.

The ZBA will revisit the signs at its next meeting on March 6.