The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
City sets ordinance for campaign signs
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The Fredericksburg City Council has approved an ordinance regulating where and when political campaign signs can be placed on public property.
The new ordinance allows signs to be placed on public property during the political season, which is defined as the 60 days before any federal, state, or local general, primary or special election or referendum and five days after.
Public property includes public streets, alleys and sidewalks.
The city’s Public Works Department asked the City Council to formalize an ordinance, said City Attorney Kathleen Dooley.
In the past, the city code prohibited signs from being placed in the public right of way without written permission of the city manager.
Now, signs can be up to 32 square feet. They are not permitted on street medians, fences, walls, signs, signposts, poles, trees or other structures owned or maintained by the city, according to the proposed ordinance.
The signs can’t affect traffic or public safety or interfere with the use of roads, and can’t be a threat to public safety.
These regulations do not govern the placement of signs on private property.
The city manager has the authority to have signs removed if the ordinance is violated, or if a sign “presents an imminent threat to public safety for any reason ” the ordinance says.
Two members of the council were opposed to the regulations—George Solley and Kerry Devine.
Solley said he doesn’t like campaign signs in the right of way, but recognizes that it is an almost insurmountable problem. He says it is better controlled than having to chase everybody down who puts up a sign.
Devine agreed with Solley, but expressed concern over the regulations being untested during a national election.
Councilman Matt Kelly said that if the signs are not allowed on the public right of way, then signs would not be allowed at three of the city’s polling places.
The ordinance will come up for a second vote at the council’s Sept. 11 meeting.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413