Sign law, ethics code go to public hearings

No provision made for not-for-profit signs on public land

The draft says temporary signs cannot be placed in the right of way of any road in the town or on town property. Enforcement would also be broadened to give more employees the power to remove illegal temporary signs.

“The prevalence of mass amount of signs throughout the town only happened because we as the town sent the signal we weren’t going to do anything about it,” said Clarkson in response to concerns raised by Councilman Kyle Kotary about the time and manpower needed to take down signs. “If we send a clear signal that we are, there won’t be those numbers of signs there.”

The law does not address the issue of not-for-profit groups wanting to advertise their events in high traffic areas of the town. The board said at a later time perhaps some town land could be given to a not-for-profit group to be designated as advertising space for organizations in Bethlehem.

“But that is a discussion for another time,” added Clarkson.

Board members also made several changes to a draft of an ethics law proposed by the Ethics Advisory Committee.

Completely removed from the draft was a section preventing officers in a political party from serving on boards. All board members felt that section of the law was unnecessary, except for Clarkson. Councilman Kuhn said some could argue it took away First Amendment rights. Town Attorney James Potter recommended a statue of limitations of one year be placed on complaints that come before the ethics board.

Left in the draft was a proposal to bar the children of town officials from working as seasonal employees with the town, which Councilwoman Joann Dawson (who was absent from Wednesday’s meeting) had previously labeled as unfair.

Most board members felt it was unjust to bar a qualified candidate. Clarkson said he previously had no feelings on the matter, but it was an issue that came up among staff during his transitional meetings.

“I personally think we either eliminate that sentence because there are plenty of other practices that are in place with (human resources) and through other hiring practices, as well as other parts of the code which would prevent an elected official from undue influence over seasonal employment … or we include the child of any town employee or elected official,” said Kotary, adding that his preference would be to eliminate the line altogether.

The language will be left in the draft so the board can hear the opinions of the public.

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