Code enforcement will soon look for signs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Code enforcement will soon look for signs

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October 11, 2005

Albany-- It's not just Fall. It's also election season. Up until election day on November 8th, candidates will do what they can to make sure you know their names. Many depend on campaign signs. In Albany, those signs come with some rules.  Campaign signs fall under the city's sign ordinance. Code enforcement along with other agencies monitor them. They call it being sign smart, but we found some signs that go against the guidelines.

As you drive around Albany, you may notice some big, bright campaign signs. "I have seen a lot of signs in violation and unfortunately our code enforcement officials are having to ride out and collect those signs," says Judy Bowles of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful. They're meant to grab attention and votes, but some campaign signs violate the law.

"They may put the signs out 60 days ahead of time and they have to take those signs down within 7 days after the election," says Bowles. It's about nine months before the gubernatorial primaries, but some campaign signs for Mark Taylor are all over town including a spot where the signs break two rules.

"We only want one sign per candidate in the yard. Those signs have to be on private property," says Bowles. It's also illegal to place them on vacant lots. The Taylor Campaign told us Monday, "While we appreciate the support, we have no idea who may be doing this, but we will do everything possible to have any signs that do break the rules removed as soon as possible."

To crack down on political campaign signs, code enforcement is now sending out letters. The letter spells out all the rights and wrongs about legal placement for all political candidates. "We sent the letters out to put them on notice to remind them of the ordinance and where they can place their signs and just so everyone can cooperate," says Chief Enforcement Officer Robert Carter. The city has received some calls about improperly placed signs, especially on right-of-ways where they're illegal as well.

"We're already starting to pick up some small signs that we got complaints on that are obviously on the right of ways and we'll be starting to enforce within a couple of days," says Carter. As the campaign trail nears, code enforcers will be busy. "Always a busy time this time of year," says Carter.

"It's costly for all of us if we don't abide by the rules," says Bowles. They'll be enforcing the rules and the number one rule is "Be Sign Smart."

Agencies now hand out special pamphlets to candidates with all the rules. Violators can be fined as much as $360 per sign if in violation. Code enforcers say most people don't intentionally place the signs illegally. It's usually done by supporters who simply don't know the rules.

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