Political Sign Ordinance to Change After Almost Three Decades
Proposal to give political sign ordinance violators a notice instead of having signs immediately removed by staff, which comes after some residents accused the Village of being politically motivated when removing recall signs.
Soon, Village staff may no longer be able to simply remove political signs without warning when they are placed in prohibited areas.
The Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee has recommended the Greendale Village Board change the ordinance to give residents who violate the political sign ordinance a 72-hour notice before enforcement.
This is a change from the existing procedure—in place since the 1980s—when Village staff would immediately remove the signs without notice, which has been in place since the 1980s.
Earlier this year a resident accused the Village of Greendale of ordering the removal of pro-Scott Walker yard signs. The resident contacted local conservative radio talk show host Mark Belling about the situation saying that the Village was politically motivated to remove the signs. The Village released a statement stating that the sign in question was in violation of the ordinance because it was on village property adjacent to the man's back yard.
The Village decided to review the ordinance after residents asked that village workers ask homeowners to move their signs instead of just removing them.
The Department of Inspection Services will enforce the ordinance. Director of Inspection Services Scott Satula said that typically someone with an opposing political stance calls and reports a violator. With the new procedure Satula said staff would knock on the violator’s door and if no one is home a letter will be sent out giving the violator 72 hours from the day the notice was mailed to remove the sign.
The violation can result in a fine of anywhere from $5 to $1,000. Satula said typically the violation results in a $114 fine per day.
Village Todd Michaels said massive signs are the biggest violations he has seen.
Satula said that if someone other than Village staff removes signs residents could check with the Village since removed signs are being logged.
Trustee Ron Barbian said he believes this change in the ordinance will solve many problems. He said most residents don’t realize that they are violating the ordinance and with a notice residents will respond well.
When asked why it’s taken so long to change the ordinance trustees said the issue seems to matter more because people seem to be getting more politically involved.
The Village Board will make the final approval.
Here are the rules:
- Political signs are prohibited on public property.
- No political signs shall be posted on or immediately adjacent to any highways, streets, sidewalks, public grounds, parks, school property, or any other public property or on any trees, streetlamps, utility poles or traffic signs in the Village, except that on any election day, two political signs for each candidate or referendum question may be allowed at or near each polling place in the Village.
- There shall not be more than one political sign per candidate on any one lot at one time.
- The political sign shall not be erected prior to the beginning of the first day for circulation of nomination papers and shall be removed on the day of the election.
- Political signs shall not be illuminated or decorated with flags, bunting or other material and devices used for display or advertising purposes.
- A political sign not exceeding 13 square feet in area appertaining to candidates for public office may be located on private property as provided herein.
- If a violation occurs, the Director of Inspection Services shall give written notice of such violation to the owner or lessee of the sign. If the owner or lessee of the sign fails to remove or alter the sign so as to comply with all provisions set forth in this Section within 72 hours following receipt of said notice such owner or lessee may be prosecuted.