Roadside markers will be removed Residents had complained in Baltimore County

March 05, 1997|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Prompted by community complaints, Baltimore County inspectors will soon begin yanking the small, temporary cardboard signs that litter intersections and advertise everything from new housing developments to karate lessons and diet powder.

"It's like a multicolored spring garden that goes up each weekend and gets mowed down by Sunday -- only to spring up again the next Friday," said Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a 2nd District Democrat irked by the signs that flourish, among other places, in Randallstown, Owings Mills and Pikesville. "The situation is out of hand."

Such signs -- most of them colorful real estate graphics stapled to wooden stakes -- obstruct traffic, distract drivers and clutter median strips and roadsides, said Bill Bralove, a Randallstown resident who has fought them for years.

"It's ugly, and it's illegal," Bralove said. "The signs have become an eyesore and greatly infringe on those in the community."

Similar signs, posted illegally along state-maintained highways, can bring fines of up to $500. In Baltimore County, their placement on public property is a violation of local law that can bring a fine of up to $200 a day, Kamenetz said.

To stop it, he has directed Arnold Jablon, director of the county's Department of Permits and Development Management, to dispatch inspectors to remove signs in Kamenetz' district beginning March 15. Only signs belonging to churches and service organizations will be allowed to remain, Jablon said.

"It's not in the interest of the county to pursue fines at this point. Rather, we have to send the message that the signs have to be taken down and any repeat violators should be dealt with in a more stringent fashion," Kamenetz said. "With 50 signs at each location, you can't read one of them because there's so many. The situation is absurd."

Such a move will anger developers, said Tom Ballentine of the Home Builders Association of Maryland, who argued that the advertisements are critical to home sales. Ballentine said his organization would oppose any attempt to eliminate the signs from the roadside. "Those signs get 60 percent of our buyers to and from the homesites," Ballentine said. "They are crucial to the success of the industry. No marketing tool is available to replace the signs."

Pub Date: 3/05/97

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