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Does Ave. A permit cover planters?

Recorder/Paul Franz
Rodney Madison waters the parkway in front of his store on Ave A in Turners Falls called Madison on the Ave.

Recorder/Paul Franz Rodney Madison waters the parkway in front of his store on Ave A in Turners Falls called Madison on the Ave.

TURNERS FALLS — Earlier this week, the Board of Selectmen endorsed the chairman’s decision to revoke Rodney Madison’s license to display objects on the sidewalk in front of his store, citing lack of insurance, and took the further step of ordering him to remove objects from the nearby town planter.

Madison sells art, oddities and antiques from his shop at the corner of Third Street and Avenue A, advertising Madison on the Avenue with bright displays of the shop’s wares on the town sidewalk and in the town-owned tree planter in front of his shop.

Following the selectmen’s Monday decision, Madison expressed dissatisfaction that his planter display had been lumped in with his sidewalk display.

Madison said he did not attend Monday’s meeting because he was a last-minute addition to the agenda and did not have sufficient warning to attend or find supporters on his behalf.

The discussion was added to the agenda under the “topics not anticipated” exclusion to the 48-hour posting requirement.

Madison holds that the planter is separate from the sidewalk, and he was never told insurance was a condition for his planter display.

Without the million-dollar personal injury insurance, Madison said he knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on this week in terms of the sidewalk display but had expected to keep the garden display.

“I don’t feel at all I’m getting cooperation from them at this point,” Madison said. “Yes, I should have had the insurance, I don’t have it, I’m hanging on by a thread and I needed another week to pay for it.”

Madison said he expects to have insurance by the meeting on Nov. 11, at which time he said he intends to re-apply for the sidewalk display license.

Madison said he was on his way to Town Hall to ask for an extension when Mark Fairbrother, chairman of the Selectboard, gave him the letter ordering him to clear the sidewalk.

The letter cited Madison’s lack of insurance and failure to tone down the display as promised at the license hearing.

Madison said he had met that subjective condition by removing 12 objects from the garden display and replacing them with 12 potted plants.

The selectmen gave Madison until midnight Sunday to clear the sidewalk and garden, with talk of fines or court action to be decided at a later meeting.

The sidewalk is the property of the town, with the Board of Selectmen occasionally licensing its use by businesses, primarily restaurants interested in seasonal outdoor seating or bars planning one-day events.

The Avenue A planters are also town property, but regulation of the raised plots has been left to the ad-hoc Streetscape Committee.

Selectman Michael Nelson has said he believes actions on the planters should not be taken without the input of the Streetscape Committee, but in this case he was frustrated by Madison’s lack of cooperation.

Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio said the issue is not on the agenda for this Monday’s meeting to give the Streetscape Committee more time to meet and discuss the planter.

Abbondanzo said use of the sidewalks and the planters is up to the discretion of the selectmen, including requiring a license or insurance for use of a planter beyond gardening.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

I grew up in Turners Falls and my mother and siblings still live there. It's a shame that this man can no longer display items outside of his store...it made the area look vibrant as opposed to looking drab. I live in Foxboro, MA and two of the downtown stores display items on the sidewalk in front of their stores and it makes the area come alive with vibrancy! The town should change their ruling in this matter. Beverly Jennings

That WAS such a creative and cheerful corner... now its just a boring old corner again... what a shame...

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