Political Signs Placed Illegally On Public Property

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - At the corner of South Court Street and East Fairview they are so easy to spot.

"They're essentially litter on a stick," said Susan Carmichael who is in charge of Montgomery's Clean City Commission.

Political signs, one right after another, many located illegally in what's known as the rights-of- way or public property.

As a rule of thumb signs can't be placed within 4 feet of the road.

This is obviously not a new problem in cities like Montgomery. The telephone pole at South Court and East Fairview is covered with hundreds of staples and nails that once held up illegal signs.

The larger signs across the intersection are on private property. WSFA 12 News can only assume at this point the property owners gave their permission.

Violating the city sign ordinance will cost offenders a hundred dollar fine yet Carmichael concedes it's hard to enforce the law because police would actually have to witness the violation.

Moving beyond the Montgomery city limits, the state collects truckloads of signs every 4 years or so during the political season.  The signs are eventually dumped in area landfills.

And there's a funny thing about the state law. The very people, the politicians who wrote the law prohibiting signage on rights-of-way.. didn't include a penalty.

"It is a toothless law but we do remind candidates not to do this," said Alabama Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Tony Harris.

Back at South Court and East Fairview, Carmichael says city road crews will take up the signs in a day or two but she may have some help.

Beverly Ross who is running for re-election on the school board.. the person trying to sell a home and business owner..  claim they didn't know the law and are making plans to take their signs down right away.

Carmichael, meantime, says they are in the process of strengthening the ordinance which would include a much higher penalty than $100.00.

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