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Rules listed for campaign signs

July 11, 2012
The Daily News

Election campaigns are under way, and candidate signs are being posted throughout the area.

Placement of these signs can cause some confusion.

"I have received numerous questions about political signs regarding placement, when they can be put up and what the rules are," said Dickinson County Clerk Dolly Cook. "I have accumulated the following information, which is to my knowledge complete."

"First and foremost is to get permission from the property owner before placing your sign," she said.

"My office received a letter from the Michigan Department of Transportation pertaining to political signs, and their rules regarding them," Cook said.

"Our general criteria require that signs be more than 30 feet from the edge of the roadway (white line) for highways which do not have barrier-type curbs," Michigan Department of Transportation officials said in the letter.

"For highways which do have barrier type curbs, the signs must be more than three feet from the back of the curb. Also, signs may not be within clear vision areas at intersections or commercial driveways," officials said.

"No signs may be placed within limited access right of way," MDOT officials said. "Of course, it remains the responsibility of the candidates to obtain any necessary prior approval from abutting property owners to place the sign. The candidates must also assure that all signs are removed within 10 days after the election."

"Political campaign signs which do not meet these criteria will be removed in the interest of safety," MDOT officials said. "They will be kept for a period of seven days at the district maintenance garage responsible for their removal, after which they will be disposed of. If you are missing signs, you must call them; they will not call you," MDOT officials said.

"There are other limitations on signs with which everyone must comply for example, the Highway Advertising Act applies to signs placed adjacent to the right of way," officials said. "Also, there are laws restricting the placement of banners over highways."

Additionally, the city of Iron Mountain has its own ordinance concerning political signs, Cook said.

If signs are not conforming to the ordinance, the Iron Mountain Police Department, Department of Public Works or any authorized city employee will remove and dispose of the signs without notice, she said.

The Iron Mountain ordinance includes the following stipulations:

1. Election signs shall not be erected 45 days prior to the election to which the sign pertains and shall be removed within 10 days following that election.

2. Signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet from any polling place entrance, even if the sign is on private property.

3. No election sign shall exceed 20 square feet in area.

4. No election sign shall be placed so as to obscure the clear vision of drivers of vehicles.

5. Private signs are prohibited in right-of-way and public easements. No signs except those established and maintained by the city, county, state and federal governments shall be located in, project into or overhang a public right-of-way or dedicated public easement. This includes the boulevard area between the blacktop and sidewalk of city streets. Signs can only be on private property.

6. Signs relating to elections must be removed within 10 days following the election or within 90 days of installation, whichever occurs first.

Kingsford adopted an ordinance on March 18, 1968, dealing with political signs, Cook said.

The Kingsford ordinance includes:

Section 1: Placing signs on telephone poles, light poles, fences, building exteriors, or any other exterior place except motor vehicles is prohibited.

Section 2: However, if an individual posts a $25 cash bond with the city clerk to ensure the removal of the signs within 60 days after the election, the posting of the signs will be permitted and the cash bond will be returned to the person who posted it upon their removal. Political parties cannot post a blanket bond to cover all candidates, unless the bond amount equals the sum of $25 for each candidate.

Section 3. City council may allow non-profit organizations to place signs and posters within the city without posting a bond in any specific instance upon the application to and securing the approval of the city council, and upon giving adequate assurance to the removal of the signs and posters within a reasonable time.

Section 4. The purpose of this ordinance is to ensure the cleanliness of the city of Kingsford.

Section 5. Any person who violates this ordinance shall be fined the sum of $50 for each offense or five days in jail, in the discretion of the court.

Breitung Township also has an ordinance on political signs, Cook said.

The Breitung Township ordinance says:

The public signs shall not exceed nine square feet. Any signs larger than nine square feet would need clearance from Joe Erickson, Zoning Administrator for Breitung Township.

Political Signs: Those signs which are intended to advertise a public election, individual actively participating in such an election, or other public ballot issue, are permitted on private property with the owner's permission. All political signs must be removed within 10 days after the election date and shall not be located on the public right-of-way.

The city of Norway adopted an ordinance dealing with political signs on June 21, 2004.

The city of Norway will collect $25 fee that is refundable if signs are picked up within 10 days after the election. You no longer need written permission from the property owner before placing your signs. Check with the city if you are planning to use a sign larger than a standard yard sign.

For more on political signs, call Cook at 774-0988.



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