Sep 13, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
In response to recent events elsewhere in Central New York, the village of Skaneateles is proposing a law that will remove its 30-day restriction on political signs.
Local law no. 2 of 2013 would remove the following regulations from the section of village code that deals with temporary signs: “Political posters shall not exceed four square feet. Placement shall not exceed 30 days. The names and addresses of the sponsor and the person responsible for removal shall be identified on the posters.”
Board members noted that the time restriction has been successfully challenged in other municipalities, most recently the town of Manlius. On Sept, 11, Manlius voted to repeal its entire political sign law which included a 30-day restriction and a requirement that residents get a permit to place signs on private property. That action came in response to a lawsuit challenging the law filed by David Rubin, former dean of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, which he argued was a violation of residents’ first amendment right to free speech granted in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Board members said that having to defend themselves against a lawsuit would waste taxpayer money, something they don’t want to do.
“I am very sorry to see us in this position where we have to amend this law, but we do because we don’t want to put the village in a position of having a challenge, a lawsuit,” trustee Mary Sennett said.
Sennett said she hopes that future candidates and political parties can work together and agree not to put up their signs too soon to avoid clutter in the village.
“I hate to think about our community being inundated with signs more than 30 days before an election, to me it’s adequate time, and even the time that the signs are up, it’s visual clutter,” she said.
The board moved to schedule a public hearing on the law for its Oct. 10 meeting.
Though the 30-day rule has been treated by many as the 30-day period leading up to the election (which would start Oct. 7 this year as the election is on Nov. 5), the law does not state that specifically. This means that residents could lawfully put political signs on their property in September as long as they are removed before a 30-day period has elapsed.
Other regulations on political signs in the village would remain in place, if local law no. 2 were passed. Temporary signs are permitted to be put up on private property in the village, however they must be three-feet from any property line or road. Signs are not permitted on the grass between the sidewalk and the street, as the village has the right-of-way for that space. Village code also has a stipulation for signs advertising events that they must be taken down no more than five days after the event has happened. The enforcement of these rules falls under the powers of village Code Enforcement Officer Adam D’Amico.
The town of Skaneateles also has a law concerning political signs, though it has no 30-day restriction. Town code states that signs must be less than 15-feet from a property lines, may not be placed on trees, utility poles or fences and must be taken down no more than five days after the election is over.
–Fall brush pickup will occur in the village weekly starting on Sept. 30 and ending on Oct. 21.
–Zoning Board of Appeals member Lisa Banuski has put her letter of resignation. Mayor Marty Hubbard said that he would like the board to appoint a new member to fill her seat at the Oct. 10 village board meeting. Hubbard encouraged any village residents interested in the position to send a letter to the village offices stating their interest.
–The village police have moved its offices into the new village hall, though the local police number will remain the same. The contractors are still finishing minor details on the interior and exterior of the building including the front entrance and landscaping, Hubbard said.
–Police Chief Lloyd Perkins reported that he has been investigating the parking situation on West Genesee Street in front of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Preschool. People there do not obey the “15-minute only” parking restriction and the on-street parking has made it a tight spot to drive through for trucks and farm vehicles, he said.
The village is planning a new local law this year to restrict on-street parking on some village streets and may make changes to the parking in front of the church also per Perkins’ suggestions.
Allie Wenner contributed reporting to this story. Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.