05/11/10 — Officials keep eyes on signs

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Officials keep eyes on signs

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 11, 2010 1:46 PM

The smattering of political signs that sprung up in the weeks proceeding last Tuesday's primary election should soon, just like the election, be just a memory.

There are few county and city rules governing the signs, but one of them requires that they must be removed within 14 days after an election. In the county, the rules apply only to areas where zoning is in place.

There are even fewer state rules.

The only reference in state law refers to the buffer zone around polling places, said Wayne County Board of Elections director Vickie Reed. For the most part, the signs cannot be closer than 50 feet to a polling place.

It is the first year that the signs have been regulated in the county, which adopted a sign ordinance last June.

The county and city ordinances are similar in nature:

* Political campaign signs announcing candidates cannot be illuminated and shall be displayed no sooner than 60 days prior to an election and must be removed no later than 14 days after the election.

* The maximum total size per parcel shall be 32 square feet and 6 feet in height.

The city ordinance adds that the signs "shall not be located within a public right of way or required sight triangle, shall not be attached to trees or utility poles. ... Such signs may not be placed on any property owned by the City of Goldsboro or any other governmental entity."

Also, signs placed on the state's right of way are subject to being removed by the Department of Transportation, county Planning Director Connie Price said.

Signs that are not removed within the 14-day period would be considered a violation of the zoning ordinance and the owner could be cited with a misdemeanor, Price said. The offender could be subject to a $50 fine. The city can levy fines as well.

Since it is the first year the county has regulated the signs, it has no past experience to go on. However, Price said that he does not expect the larger, more expensive signs will be a problem simply because of the financial investment.

The problem is more apt to arise when a campaign puts out 500 of the smaller signs and forgets where some of them are located, he said.

People who have complaints about the signs in zoned areas in the county may contact the county Planning Department at 731-1650. Price said the county would then try to contact the candidate. The city Planning Department may be reached at 580-4333 or 580-4334.