Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tiverton yarn shop may leave town because of dispute over sign

This place is one of my favorites -- and what a cute location they have now!

But, as I said to my mother (aka my accomplice when it comes to yarn shopping), if they move to Westport, Mass. as planned, we'll not only save on the Rhode Island sales tax, we can make a knit shop excursion after a day at Horseneck Beach!

What started out as a zoning tiff over a sign on the lawn at a knitting store known throughout New England has led shop owner Louise Silverman to put the property up for sale and look for a new location in Massachusetts.

The controversy over the sign at Sakonnet Purls has highlighted a zoning ordinance which has caused an uproar in the scenic, historic village of Tiverton Four Corners, which has become a major stop for day-trippers from Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Because half of the shops in Four Corners are in a residential zone, critics say, the zoning ordinance discourages private investment which has promoted healthy commercial activity while preserving the rustic ambience of the 300-year-old village.

Town Planner Christopher Spencer has said the clash between zoning and reality at Four Corners has prompted him to study possible changes to the ordinance to present to the Town Council.

In early September, the Zoning Board voted 3 to 2 that the property could have only one freestanding sign. It ordered removal of a hand-carved sign erected by Silverman’s tenant, Adam Van Dale, owner of Back Alley Wood Works, a furniture restoration business that occupies a shed at the rear of the lot.

Instead, Silverman took down the roadside sign that announced her own shop, nailing the panel to the front of the main building, a Greek revival cottage filled with yarn. Meanwhile, she said she planned to appeal.
But the release last week of the board’s written decision, allegedly opaque in its language, apparently prompted Silverman to call it quits in Tiverton.
She said the decision ignored evidence, such as photos of signs from previous tenants which have gone unchallenged in the last 24 years. Silverman has posted all the photos of the signs on her Web site,

“One person makes a complaint about a sign she cannot see from her house ... and it cost me 20 grand. It’s all political,” Silverman said. She alluded to Rosemary Eva, former chairwoman of the Planning Board, who is a neighbor. “This has really stressed me out. I just want to get out of town and go to a friendly place,” Silverman said.