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Campaign signs litter landscape
But officials warn they aren't allowed in rights-of-way
W 041216 CAMPAIGN SIGNS
Traffic navigates a four-way stop past campaign signs at the intersection of Burkhalter and Pretoria Rushing Roads. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Signs, signs, everywhere signs –proof that election time is drawing closer and candidates are fighting for attention and votes. While some may be tired of seeing political campaigns signs dotting the landscape, they are perfectly legal – unless they are placed in rights of way.

There have been complaints about allegedly stolen campaign signs, from those of candidates in local races to those of presidential candidates, but it is very likely those missing signs could have been picked up by city and county code enforcement, said Bulloch County Zoning Administrator Randy Newman.

He said Thursday there have been at least 60 campaigns signs picked up across the county due to being placed on rights of ways. There were another 20 found outside of Register pending pickup. “They’re a little bit of everybody,” he said, meaning the misplaced signs were from candidates of all local races as well as state and presidential campaigns.

Statesboro Code Enforcement Officer Mike Chappel said Thursday he has picked about 30 signs up from rights-of-way inside city limits, “some of everybody.”  He knew of about 60 more he planned to remove as well.

Both the city and county will keep the signs and notify candidates that the signs have been pulled and may be picked up. But as time rolls on, more and more campaigns signs are appearing, Chappel said. “We pull up one and two more appear,” he said.

Some people have claimed signs were stolen from private property, but only one official report involving stolen signs has been made to the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, That incident involved a man in a stolen car who was found in possession of drugs as well as three campaign signs he admitted stealing, according to Bulloch County Sheriff’s incident report records.

Statesboro Police Department records show no reports involving allegedly stolen campaign signs.

There is no limit to campaign signs placed on private property, said Statesboro’s Planning and Development right of way manager Jason Riner. There is no permit needed, but city ordinance echoes state law in that signs on rights of way are fair game to be removed.

Pat Lanier Jones, Bulloch County elections supervisor, said Georgia law prohibits placing campaign signs on rights-of-way.  This means state officials can and will remove campaigns signs found on state property rights-of-way, she said.

According to Internet website www.campaigntrailyardsigns.com, “Georgia defines their right of way abstractly: it’s the land over which state highways, railroads, power lines or other Georgia Department of Transportation property is built and maintained.”

Both Chappel and Newman said candidates will be contacted after the first offense, and allowed to pick up the signs, but “After the second offense the signs will be thrown away,” Chappel said.

Often, the signs are placed in rights of way by supporters, who may not be aware of the law, and not the candidates, Newman said.

Campaign signs may not be placed near polling places, either, Jones said, citing Georgia law (Official Code of Georgia Annotated), 21-2-414, which states “No person shall … distribute or display any campaign literature, newspaper, booklet, pamphlet, card, sign, paraphernalia, or any other written or printed matter of any kind … within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; within any polling place; or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.”

 

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

 

 

 

 

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