Citizens' Videos To Record Disputed Benfield Road Signs

Lack Of Inspectors Incites Public To Camera, Action

August 11, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

County officials, admitting they can't enforce rules against thousands of illegal signs, are turning to videotape to get rid of the controversial signs along Benfield Road in Severna Park.

The new program, announced Friday by County Executive Robert R. Neall, responds to nine months of controversy about the the Department of Planning and Zoning's inability to enforce county sign ordinances because it is woefully short of inspectors.

Violations include temporary signs, or those that violate height,size and setback requirements.

"It's a case where a law has gone unenforced except where specific complaints have been lodged, and as long as people haven't complained it's gotten worse," said Greater Severna Park Council president Patricia Troy, who worked with county zoning enforcement officials and the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce to develop the new experimental policy.

"Hopefully the businesses along Benfield Road will not think they are being singled out,but will look at it as an opportunity to lead the way for the rest of the county," Troy said.

Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold, saidcomments by businesses and community leaders in Severna Park will play a major role in the development of new sign legislation, which shesays will probably be introduced in September.

Later this month, citizens will begin videotaping all of the signs along Benfield Road between Crain Highway and Ritchie Highway.

After planning and zoning officers review the tape, violators will be invited to public meetings, where they will be taught about compliance.

Only after beingnotified and given an opportunity to comply will citations and finesbe issued.

The citizens who will be videotaping will be called the Severna Park Sign Improvement Task Force, mostly officers of the Greater Severna Park Council and the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce.

Other communities around the county may be targeted for similar sweeps in the future, a press release from the county executive's office said.

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