Can a town regulate the size of campaign yard signs?
Should it be legal for a 20-foot by 8-foot campaign sign mounted on a
trailer to be moved from site to site?
On the eve of today’s election the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission
raised those questions; their attorney said it’s a matter for the Town
Council and that body would have to authorize his legal research.
Attorney Charles Parkinson said there’s a big difference between commercial
speech and political speech and he wouldn’t venture an opinion on the
questions posed. “I’m not going to make a judgement on that this evening.”
Town building commissioner Bill Arney said Burns Harbor’s ordinance requires
a $10 permit if a sign is larger than 6 square feet, but the ordinance makes
no reference to a maximum sign size.
Commission president Jeff Freeze asked whether the permit fee could be made
proportionate to the size of the sign.
Parkinson said political signs are considered political speech. Member
Bernie Poparad said nobody’s suggesting anyone’s speech be denied. “They
just can’t yell at us.” He said 16 square feet is usually the largest yard
sign candidates use.
In other business, the commission voted 6-0 with member Jerry Price absent
to give representatives of The Village in Burns Harbor subdivision a Nov. 15
deadline to have their revised petition submitted if they want a public
hearing Dec. 6. At last month’s meeting the commission voted 4-2 to have the
public hearing Monday if a number of items were submitted/revised, but
Parkinson said not all were addressed.
By letter Village developer Cliff Fleming asked for a continuance and that
the hearing be reset for Dec. 6. The hearing will be on Phases 4-8
containing 67 additional single-family lots, three park lots and four
multi-family lots each having several two-story, manor-home buildings.
Commission members Toni Biancardi and Poparad said the town has been burned
before by other petitioners who changed their plans between the preliminary
hearing and the public hearing resulting in later problems for the town, so
the commission should require that all final plans be filed and reviewed
before a public hearing is set.
Freeze said his concern was government slowing down business interests
unnecessarily. Biancardi said petitioners can ask for a special commission
meeting to accomodate their schedule.
It was agreed if the Nov. 15 deadline isn’t met, the Village subdivision
petition will continue under a preliminary hearing.
Also Monday, John Miller of Miller Electrical and Construction, who’s
purchased 12 lots in Parkwood Estates subdivision, asked permission to
install drainage pipe and to fill in the drainage ditch on the south side of
Lake Park Road. Doing so will give lot owners use of the full 165 feet of
lot depth they purchased rather than having an open drainage swale, added
Parkinson said it sounds like Miller wants to vacate a portion of an
existing utility easement in exchange for another easement, and that would
be the jurisdiction of the Town Council. Biancardi asked town department
heads to review Miller’s request, and he was urged to get on the council
This month the Town Council cancelled its regular Nov.10 meeting and will
meet Nov. 17 instead. President Jim McGee said it was to assure a quorum
would be present.
In a final matter, member Terry Swanson asked if it had been determined
which schedule of fees for the Building Department had been approved.
Parkinson said the one on the town website is correct.