Road crews keep busy removing political signs

August 11, 1994|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,Sun Staff Writer

It's the cheaters that annoy Dan Nataf so much, the ones who post political signs illegally.

"When people are populating the area with illegitimate signs, they are creating an image of false support," said Mr. Nataf, a Severna Park Democrat running for the House of Delegates. "It's plainly unfair for those who obey. We lose out."

Candidates for county and state offices are told about the rules when they register to place their names on the primary ballot, said Gary Bowman, chief of the outdoor advertising section of the State Highway Administration.

Road agencies for the county and state prohibit placement of signs in public medians and rights-of-way, they are told. But that doesn't mean the candidates play by the rules.

State road crews have removed about 100 illegal signs from state rights of way in Anne Arundel County since June, Mr. Bowman said. About 300 signs in improper areas were pulled up across the state.

Meanwhile, county workers picked up about 40 improperly posted signs during two days last week, said Mary Ann Roesler, a county sign enforcement officer.

"As it's getting close to the elections, more signs are going up and that makes many people concerned whether candidates are being fair," Ms. Roesler said.

Mr. Bowman said he received five complaints about signs of Larry Walker, a Democratic county executive candidate, along Route 648 and Interstate 97 last month. A sign promoting Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg for governor was removed from the the Bay Bridge in June. Two signs supporting Ed Bach, a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in District 33, were removed after county inspectors found they violated the law.

Clerk of the Circuit Court Mary Rose, a Republican candidate for state Senate, has had five signs pulled down after the county deemed them illegal. "It's all part of politics," she said. "They come up, they come down."

But the illegal advertisements can be costly, Ms. Roesler said. A candidate who posts signs illegally on state property could be fined up to $500. County fines start at $50 per sign for the first day, $100 a sign for the second and rise to $500 a sign for five or more days.

If the sign stays on county land for a week, a candidate could owe $2,500. But Mr. Bowman said no one has been fined for illegal signs in his 18 years at SHA.

"We give people a warning that their signs are illegal if we get a call. And if our trucks see them when they are out, on our property, [the signs] go down and they can come get them," Mr. Bowman said.

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