NEWINGTON, New Hampshire —
Roughly 40 people showed up to Monday night's town meeting in Newington as three selectmen addressed the removal of signs promoting the Portsmouth Pride Parade by town employees from private property in June.
Some town residents expressed their dismay for the recent handling of the signs after they were removed from private property without communication as to why. Town Administrator Martha Roy told NEWS CENTER Maine the town's sign ordinance is "very strict" and the signs were only removed because they violated the off-premise clause.
Patrick Patterson is a resident of Newington and sits on the board of Seacoast Outright which advocates for LGBTQA youth in the seacoast area of southern Maine and New Hampshire.
Selectmen Ted Connor led the meeting and said the signs removals were a misunderstanding and had nothing to do due with their content. He said if the town officials had had notice about the signs the whole matter would have been handled differently, a point that Patterson says isn't true.
Patterson says he emailed the Roy asking for permission to place the signs on public property and when he never heard back he placed them anyway.
Patterson wanted to know who specifically who in the town asked for the signs to be removed but he got no answer Monday night.
Selectmen Ted Connors apologized for the mishandling of the signs and said they town would try to resolve the issue. When addressing the issue of selective enforcement of town rules pertaining to signs, Connors said some town ordinances have "loosy goosy" enforcement.
Patterson says, "I will not stop fighting for what I believe in until the ordinance is dropped."
Seacoast Outright is calling for the resignation or termination of Martha Roy. The ACLU of NH sent a letter earlier in July citing the sign ordinance as unconstitutional.