Political lawn signs questioned

Town Attorney James Potter explained the town code to Morand.

"The zoning law restricts where you can put signs, the zoning law provides an exemption for political signs, except that political signs cannot be placed on town property or the town right-of-way," Potter said. "I think the public has a significant misunderstanding about what constitutes the public right of way.

Town property actually goes 13 feet onto most people's lawns."

Potter said because of the town technically owns 13 feet past the road that it becomes a significant enforcement issue.

"The town is faced with a dilemma, if you were going to enforce that law to the strict letter of the law, then the highway department and our zoning enforcement people, and perhaps even our police would be spending their entire day removing signs."

It also becomes a constitutional and First Amendment Rights issue, he said.

"That would also raise a significant issue about First Amendment Rights, I think citizens would be very upset and remove signs from what people consider to be their front lawns," Potter said. "You would have significant issues about candidates, from either party, and it doesn't matter which, claiming that we've been engaged in discriminatory enforcement."

Potter said if there were 1,000 signs and the town could only get 999, a candidate would have a valid discrimination case against the town.

"The town does remove any signs from town parks and town property," Potter said. "But in terms of removing them the right-of-way and town roads, that has just not been the practical thing to do."

However, Morand was not appeased by Potter's explanation.

"Mr. Potter what do the words mean? Do the words mean you can enforce it at your own leisure, your own discretion?" Morand asked. "The words are very, very straight forward. No signs."

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