With the general primary and special election just days away, Columbia County officials expect roadsides countywide to become more cluttered with political signs.
The week of the Feb. 5 presidential primary, code compliance officers picked up about 200 signs placed in county rights of way in violation of the sign ordinance, said Linda Glasscock, the county's code compliance manager.
"Normally, if it is not a political season, we may pick up that many (violating signs) a month," Glasscock said.
As the July 15 election draws closer, Glasscock said, the signs are reappearing along county roads. But no signs are allowed in county rights of way by state law and county ordinance.
The weeks before elections are always busy for code compliance officers, and Glasscock said the days before the July 15 vote are busier than ever.
"I think it is probably going to be even more," she said. "We've got quite a few local races coming up."
Glasscock said that after the February election, her department sent notices to local Republican and Democratic representatives reminding them of the sign laws.
A rule of thumb is that utility poles are generally at the back of the county right of way, Glasscock said.
"We normally use that as a guideline that if they are in front of the telephone poles, they are in violation," Glasscock said. "But if they are not in the right of way, that means they are on someone's private property and you should have permission."
Violators usually are given warnings, Glasscock said, and by the time violators are brought to court, the violating signs often have been removed.
Glasscock said her department responds to numerous complaints about signs during the political season from residents and business owners, who the department has cited for similar violations.
"The local businesses, we hold their feet to the fire on not having their stuff in the rights of way," Glasscock said. "Why should we let the political signs be out there? It is not fair to the local business people that we allow these other (political) signs to be all up and down the road way when they can't do it."
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