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.

 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.

Private property

  • 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.


Jason Patzfahl July 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM
A political sing may not exceed 13 square feet, but when I made a formal, written complaint about a 32 square foot "We Stand With Walker" sign facing Loomis Rd. at the entrance of the Greendale Industrial Loop, Village Inspector Scott Satula told me that the reason he left it there for three weeks (until after the recall election was over) was that he was just "too busy" and the Village was just "not interested in enforcing that ordinance any more." He wasn't "too busy" to take my single five square foot "Recall Walker" sign out of my yard three times because it was a couple of feet too close to the right-of-way facing Ramsey ~ Hypocrisy? Arrogance? We will see how Satula enforces the ordinances when the giant "Hovde" and "Romney 2012" signs start popping up in front of Greendale businesses - my guess is that they will be left alone... but you better damn well not have more than one tiny Obama 2012 sign in your back yard.
Bren July 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Removing property from privately-owned land is theft (except in instances of emergency/danger). Playing partisan politics with the rules is unacceptable. The rule change is a good one. I did notice that there were a number of large Walker signs in areas that I thought were public land. Hopefully nothing untoward was going on but for this election more of us will be taking a closer look at the situation.
FL Born July 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Please include the tacky FOR SALE and RUMMAGE signs too!
Conservative in Greendale July 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM
@ Jason, the back of our yard is on Ramsey as well, our small Pro Walker signs were taken by the dept of inspection many times! I have witnessed the man in the white "village" car take down pro walker signs that were properly placed? Why has the anti walker sign just west of 51st and Ramsey not yet been removed? by both sets of rules it should have been removed after election day?
Carol July 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
How about instead of worrying about sign, the Village inspector gets after people who don't keep up their houses. It seems like every block has 1 or 2 homes that look like crap! Maybe if Scott Satula had to live near one of these eyesores something would be done. I do agree about the political signs though, they look tacky! And back to the subject, I agree that a sign will bring people down to the Village, but the stores also need to stay open till at least 7:00 especially in summer.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »