Resident wants fair sign law enforcement

“Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs …”
Those lyrics from a 1970s song are similar to a message delivered to the Vandalia City Council by a resident who alleged selective enforcement of the city’s sign ordinances.
Dave Hill asked city officials for fair and consistent enforcement of sign laws after being asked to take down signs he posted.
Hill said that upon returning home from a work trip recently, he was told that Code Official Keith Meadows had received complaints about produce signs that he had placed at each end of his block on Shelby Drive.
The next day, Hill said, he went to city hall to get a copy of the sign ordinance and reviewed it, and realized that if he was in violation, so were others.
“There are signs all over this town that are not on their personal property,” Hill said.
“I’m just wondering why the covenants of the law are being administered the way they’re being administered,” he told city officials.
Alderman Terry Beesley said he had an answer. “Most of what he (Meadows) takes care of is complaint-driven. The reason you got singled out is, somebody complained.
“I don’t think it’s anything against you,” Beesley said.
Hill then said that he “complained about other signs in town, and nothing has been done there.”
He said he filed “official” complaints with his two aldermen, B. John Clark and Andy Lester.
Clark said he didn’t remember Hill verbally filing a complaint, but he did agree with the basis of Hill’s argument.
He said he had noticed that one business has signs “all over the place, on city property and other property. Not (just) one sign – it’s everywhere … and it’s not even a business in the city.
“I don’t have a problem with the signs you have,” Clark told Hill.
“I agree with you – what works for one works for everybody,” Clark said.
Alderman Mike Hobler told Hill that if he has a list of violators, that list could be given to Meadows for action.
“It’d be too many,” Hill said.
“Almost every one I checked is on city property, on right of way,” he said.
Hill told city officials that he has no problem with taking down his signs, as long as everyone else has to, also.
“If they don’t have to comply, I don’t want to have to comply,” he said.
Lester asked Mayor Rick Gottman the procedure for enforcing the sign ordinance, and Gottman said, “Once a complaint is made, (we) have to act on it.
“If there are signs out there that are in violation, they should be removed … by the ones that put them out,” the mayor said.
After a comment that the city’s public works employees should take down illegally posted signs as they go around town, Public Works Director John Moyer said that they don’t because the city law is enforced “on a complaint basis.”
Gottman said those who post signs need to realize that if they are posted illegally, they need to come down, and that it’s likely that more signs will be popping up in the near future.
“The election is coming up, and we need to make sure that both (political) parties know that if they (signs) are on city property, they will be removed,” Gottman said.

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