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Former Newhouse Dean suing the town of Manlius over lawn sign restrictions

“This is not about money; this is about the First Amendment”

— Theobald said he did not know when the sign ordinance took effect in Manlius, but can see why it was instituted in the first place.

“I can understand why they did this,” he said. “The code references aesthetics and traffic safety. [Signs] do take away from the aesthetics and the view, but when it comes down to it, there is a freedom of speech that you have to take into consideration here.”

He went on to say that the town board will most likely take a look at the ordinance and see whether or not it needs to be changed.

“I think it’s something we can look at – I’m sure the board would be interested,” he said. “It’s just too bad that they had to file a lawsuit instead of following up with us. We could have directed it to the board.”

Even if the town board decides to get rid of the ordinance, there is a chance the members could still wind up in court. Dickerson declined to comment on what could happen, but said that each judge has the tendency to want to run his or her own cases, and it could depend on that.

Lawn sign limitations

The town of Manlius isn’t alone in its restrictions on political lawn signs. Depending on which municipality you live in, the rules are different. The town of DeWitt allows its residents to put up signs no more than 45 days prior to election day and requires that they be removed no later than seven days later. The village of East Syracuse has nothing written down when it comes to political lawn signs, but “takes a common sense approach” and will ask residents to remove the signs if left outside for too long following the election. The village of Fayetteville does not have an ordinance on file, but follows the same rules as the town of Manlius. And the village of Manlius has no restrictions at all when it comes to signs.

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