By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — The City Council unanimously repealed existing sections relating to its political campaign signs ordinance.
During the March 23 meeting, the zoning chapter and article VI titled “supplemental regulations” where the six existing sections are located was amended by the council.
Councilman Gary Schlack was absent from the meeting.
A public hearing was held before the vote on the third reading, and adoption of the ordinance took place where Councilman Daniel Loyd briefly explained the change.
“This ordinance restricted the amount of time that you can have signs, specifically political signs, out in public — because of First Amendment challenges, that is considered political speech and that is something that is sacred within our form of government,” he said. “That is something that everyone has a right to and basically anytime anything similar to this has gone to the Supreme Court it has been struck down.”
He went on to say the the original ordinance “is an unenforceable law and that just makes headaches for the people in charge of enforcing the laws. They would get calls every year. ‘This person has had their sign out for so long,’ and we would have to explain that, yes, that is on the books, but it’s an unenforceable law. So, in the opinion of the legal affairs committee this is — it is good government to not have laws on the books that you are actually not able to actually prosecute, to enforce.”
The political campaign section under signs now reads, no permit shall be required for the placement and erection of political campaign signs, no political campaign sign shall be placed or erected sooner than 60 days to any election date, including any primary, special or general election.
It also reads, All political campaign signs shall be removed by the candidate, committee or organization listed on the sign within seven days immediately after the election date, including any primary, special or general election. However, a sign for a candidate who was successful in the primary shall be allowed to remain until the final election in which the candidate is involved. The sign must then be removed within seven days.
Part four says, all political campaign signs shall bear the name and address of the individual or organization responsible for the sign.
The next section reads, prior to a violation being issued under this subsection, a written warning of a violation of this subsection shall be given to the individual or organization responsible for the sign or if not listed on the sign, to the individual or organization described on the sign. The warning shall indicate the nature and location of the violation and the date by which the violation shall be corrected, which date shall not be sooner than seven days, to prohibit further enforcement
The sixth and final section says, a person’s first or second violation of this subsection shall be a municipal civil infraction with a civil fine as established in section 1-14(b). A person’s subsequent violations of this subsection shall be a misdemeanor and subject to the penalties of section 1-14(a).
“We thought this would be prudent and again to help our people that are already working very diligently to enforce the laws and the ordinances of the city of Allen Park to repeal that because it is unenforceable,” Loyd said.
To view Allen Park adopted ordinances go to library.municode.com/mi/allen_park/codes/code_of_ordinances.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])