It's an issue of sign pollution and sight obstruction, the inspectors said.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli and Assistant Peter Ross want to rid the township of portable, temporary signs.
The signs sometime litter the commercial thoroughfares of the township, announcing sales and special offers.
"We are the commercial center of Mahoning County, if every retailer put up two or three [portable] signs, there would literally be thousands of signs," Crivelli said.
Last week, Austintown police said they were removing signs on utility poles and those erected in the highway right-of-way which are prohibited under Ohio traffic law, but Boardman's zoning ordinance goes even further.
Private property restriction
Portable, temporary signs, like banners or free-standing signs, aren't allowed even on private property.
The inspectors have cited 41 merchants this year, most of whom have complied when the problem was brought to their attention.
In some of those cases, the merchant bought the offending sign after being told by the sign business that it met the zoning code.
Crivelli said the zoning office issues no such permits for portable signs and the sign companies rarely call the office.
"It's a bit on a communication problem," he said.
Crivelli urges merchants to contact the local jurisdiction that oversees signage before they buy.
The township banned them a number of years ago.
"It's an ongoing enforcement issue for us," he said.
Of the 41 citations, only two of the cases ended up in court because most of the merchants complied. In the two that went to court, the court ruled in the inspectors' favor.
Offenders may be fined $100 for each day the sign remains posted after being notified by the inspectors.
"We usually contact them in person or in writing and if they cooperate, it's over," Crivelli said.
Ross said that the same rules apply to transient vendors like those that set up fruit stands. Although a banner attached to the stand is permitted.
The code also prohibits temporary signs atop vehicles parked in a business's lot.
Banners hung on a building and advertising detailed on a vehicle are permitted.
"Much of the time, they stay up after the sale and it causes sight obstruction and with the banners, if we get a wind storm, they get torn up," the zoning inspector said.
Garage and yard sale signs also are restricted from the highway rights-of-way, but permitted on private property.
Real estate and political signs also are allowed on private property.
"The political signs are a First Amendment issue," Crivelli said.