COLUMBIANA Official says he was wrong to seek limit on size of signs
The law director said the zoning code can't be changed before November.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- Councilman Don Leonard believes limiting the size of political signs in the city wasn't such a good idea after all.
Leonard lobbied for a zoning code setting size limits on the signs, which went into effect in March 2000.
He said he thought the limit was a good idea at the time, but "I think I was wrong, and I'm saying I was wrong."
Leonard wanted the size of campaign signs to be limited because, with no limit, he believed political signs in the city were too large.
He was most opposed to the practice by some candidates of parking tractor-trailers painted as political signs at various places throughout the city, most along state Route 14.
One candidate who continued the practice after the zoning code was changed was cited by the city. The candidate has a lawsuit pending against the city on the grounds that limiting the size of political signs infringes upon the right to free speech.
Leonard believes the sign limit is the reason Columbiana Schools' recent levy attempts failed.
Voters defeated the district's request for a permanent improvement levy three times this year.
The zoning code states campaign signs can be no larger than 6 feet square.
Leonard believes voters would have passed the school district's recent permanent improvement levy requests if campaign signs had been larger.
He had hoped council could change the law in time for November election campaign signs to be larger.
Law Director Daniel Blasdell said, however, that changing the zoning code could not be completed before November. Blasdell said a zoning code change requires a public hearing first, and the public hearing must be advertised.
Leonard said although the zoning code can't be changed in time for this election, he'd like to have it in place for the next election.
During council discussions, Leonard suggested changing the code back to no limit. Several council members suggested limiting the sign size, but allowing larger signs.
A 4-by-6 limit was suggested, and Councilman Don Vignon noted that a 4-by-8 limit would be more practical since the latter is the standard size of a sheet of plywood.