SAUGUS – Vehicle-accessory company Cap World was told by the Zoning Board of Appeals that it must remove or cover its mural of Route 1 landmarks.
The ZBA backed a previous ruling that the images constitute a sign, which would require adherence to the town’s signage bylaw.
“We strongly believe the mural should stay up and we are currently working with the town to achieve this,” Cap World General Manager Ron DiVincenzo said. “We appreciate all the support we have received from the area and the Town of Saugus for all they are trying to do for us and have done.”
DiVincenzo appeared before the ZBA on Jan. 27 seeking a variance to allow what he considers a mural to remain uncovered at Cap World on Route 1 North. Three years ago, Cap World commissioned an artist to create the mural that celebrates the history of Route 1, DiVincenzo explained.
Former Building Inspector Fred Varone determined it was a sign, something that DiVincenzo didn’t agree with.
“He felt it was a sign; I felt it was a mural,” DiVincenzo said. “We agreed to disagree and revisit it at another time.”
ZBA Chairman Ben Sturniolo said he agrees with Varone’s interpretation that what Cap World put up was an unpermitted sign and that the sign doesn’t align with the town’s signage bylaw when it comes to size or colors. Signs in the town are allowed to display no more than five different colors under the existing bylaws. Signage must also not take up more than 10 percent of the front of a building, according to the regulations.
The ZBA also is concerned about making an exception for Cap World and having other businesses want to have similar signage.
“If we were to allow this, how do we say no to somebody else?” Sturniolo said.
ZBA member Peter Rossetti Jr. was also concerned about the possibility of more murals popping up.
“What some people consider art is different,” he said. “Do we want to be like downtown Lynn and have giant murals on the sides of buildings? I don’t think so.”
Cap World’s options include covering the sign, removing it, or coming back to the ZBA to request the approval of a sign that meets the applicable bylaws, according to Sturniolo.
DiVincenzo emphasized that an artist created a mural the people of Saugus love.
“This is to save the identity of Route 1 that has changed so much in the last 35 years,” DiVincenzo said.
Board of Selectmen Anthony Cogliano offered his support for the mural at the meeting.
“I think it looks great, I understand you have a tough job to do,” Cogliano told the ZBA. “I think (the mural) is more paying homage to the town than trying to attract business to the location.”
Cogliano said in an interview on Friday that he believes Saugus’ sign bylaw is out of date.
“I think that what he has over there is great for the town,” he said of DiVincenzo. “I think people like it, I think they appreciate it. I look at it as a mural; I don’t particularly think it is a sign. He’s advertising other Saugus businesses … (and) Saugus landmarks, and I think it is good for the town. I hope the Board of Appeals finds it in their infinite wisdom to grant this request for a variance.”