Angry Salisbury residents protest business owner's signs

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Mar. 10—SALISBURY — Selectmen approved a Class 2 business license for the owner of a local auto shop but not before residents angry at his political signs registered their disapproval Monday night during a Zoom broadcast of the meeting.

Robert Roy is the owner of Rob Roy Auto at 49 Main St. and is an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump.

Over the past few years, Roy has used his front lawn to post signs supporting Trump but recently moved on to criticize his successor, President Joe Biden.

Roy posted a sign last summer that read, "Joe and the Hoe Sniff and Blow Tour 2020," which he said at the time was a reference to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

One of Roy's recent signs features a picture of Biden doctored to make him look like Adolf Hitler and reads, "Only a Dictator, 52 Executive Orders, 20 Days. Rules by Executive Order."

Roy works mainly as an auto mechanic but recently applied for a Class 2 business license from the town to sell used cars as well. Selectmen hosted a public hearing on the matter during its meeting Monday night.

Roy told selectmen he intends to sell six cars on his property and cut down on service fees. He asked that people concerned about his signs come see him at his shop.

More than a dozen local residents, including Kenneth Yarvitz of Beach Road, appeared virtually before selectmen to voice disapproval of Roy's signs. Most of the residents held placards reading, "Salisbury is no place for hate" and "The North Shore is no place for hate."

"There is really no place for hate in Salisbury," Yarvitz said. "I happen to have grandchildren and the last thing that I want them to see when they drive into town is that type of sign."

Another Beach Road resident, Beth Gandelman, asked selectmen not to approve Roy's license Monday night.

"Having that sign up there just creates such a negative tone for the entire town," she said.

Gandelman added that she complained about another sign in Roy's yard last year.

"This goes beyond a sign that should be in anyone's home or in anyone's business in the town of Salisbury in today's day and age," Gandelman said. "I will even plan to drive around town and avoid that part of the street so I don't have to look at that sign as well as some of the others."

Selectman Ronalee Ray-Parrott also mentioned her displeasure with Roy's signs but added that selectmen can do very little about them .

"Although I find the sign at Mr Roy's establishment offensive and embarrassing and prejudicial, unfortunately, he is still within his First Amendment rights" of free speech, Ray-Parrott said.

Selectman Freeman Condon said he visited Roy on Monday and also found the sign offensive.

"But he is protected under the United States Constitution to have such a sign," Condon said. "I do believe that the issues tonight are separate."

Selectmen amended their vote Monday night to include the stipulation Roy meet all zoning requirements when it comes to his Class 2 business license and that he must also pave the area where the cars being sold would be parked.

Both amendments and the business license were approved unanimously.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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