Perrysburg Twp. hears political sign complaints
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 10:54
LIME CITY — Temporary signs are becoming a more permanent headache in Perrysburg Township.
Trustee candidate Lynn Hunter spoke during the public participation portion of Wednesday’s meeting, challenging trustees and Administrator Walt Celley on not enforcing a limit on maximum size of campaign signs.
Celley said the township’s zoning resolution addresses sign size, but he does not believe it to be enforceable because courts could rule it as an unconstitutional limit on free speech. He said the item would likely be removed when the zoning resolution is revised next year.
“We cannot regulate political speech in that manner,” Celley said.
Speaking loudly at times, Hunter accused trustees of using knowledge that the limit on sign size would not be enforced to their benefit, while not notifying other candidates that they could get away with using larger signs.
“Those of us that abided by your size requirement were not aware that you weren’t going to enforce it, but yet those that are in the office understand that you couldn’t enforce it,” she said.
“We’ve never enforced that provision of the zoning resolution in any election,” Celley said.
“Those type of regulations were pretty common up until around 10 to 12 years ago. It’s pretty clear that we’re very limited in how we can regulate political speech. Anything that’s a reasonable size, I don’t think that any court is going to enforce that.”
Kathleen Gibson, who sat with Hunter during the meeting and spoke after her, asked Celley why those with large signs could not be told to replace them with smaller ones that conform to the zoning resolution.
“We’re not saying they can’t promote their campaign, it’s just the size for the township in violation of what you have written.”
The requirement certainly can’t be enforced “if you’re not willing to try,” she continued.
“I’m not willing to try to violate people’s constitutional rights,” Celley said.
Hunter, who will square off against trustees Gary Britten and Bob Mack for two seats in the Nov. 5 election, has a history of butting heads with the current board.
Several times Hunter has accused trustees of being out of touch with residents and not fighting hard enough for them, including those who opposed a surface mining permit requested by Wylie and Sons LLC at a public meeting last month. Britten noted trustees had already submitted their own detailed objection to the permit and said he would pursue all legal options to have the business moved out of the township.
There was also a brief discussion Wednesday about temporary commercial signs used to promote businesses and sales, which are being improperly posted more frequently throughout the township, according to Kelly Hemminger, zoning administrator.
Trustees also accepted the retirement of firefighter Frank Vallas, who served 28 years with the Perrysburg Township department.