Premature campaign signs draw citations Two Rehrmann posters near Catonsville remain on display despite fines

June 24, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Frustrated by the failure of Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's gubernatorial campaign to remove two allegedly illegal signs, Baltimore County officials have slapped the campaign with $4,800 in fines for zoning violations.

After the initial citation last month, campaign officials promised to remove the two adjoining 6-by-12-foot signs, mounted on hefty wooden posts and picturing Rehrmann, who is challenging Gov. Parris N. Glendening in September's Democratic primary.

But the signs still stood yesterday on private property near Catonsville, despite a county ban on campaign signs so early in the election season. The campaign faces three citations, and is liable for more zoning fines, at the rate of $200 a day. A hearing is scheduled for July 14.

Private property

George Harrison, Rehrmann's spokesman, said her campaign is helpless to remove the signs, located on Lincoln Avenue property owned by Robert Clay, a Laurel-based, politically active contractor.

"The owner has been asked to take it down. He declined, and we can't go on the property to take it," Harrison said. Clay did not return phone calls yesterday.

Rehrmann is not the only candidate in hot water with county zoning officials. The county recently sent a warning letter to Robert Fulton Dashiell, a Democratic state Senate candidate whose campaign workers last week left small, stick-mounted signs anchored in concrete along Liberty Road.

Public right of way

Julius Henson, Dashiell's campaign manager, said several signs were left in the road right of way. He said any not removed by county workers will be taken back by the campaign.

Signs on public rights of way are always illegal, according to officials. Baltimore County law says signs on private property are illegal until 30 days before an election, or Aug. 9 this year.

In addition to being a zoning violation, illegal signs are subject to a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by a maximum $25 fine.

However, Frank Meyer, chief of the county state's attorney's investigative division, said no case has been criminally prosecuted in his 14 years' experience.

One novice House of Delegates candidate from the eastern county, Republican attorney Frank A. Pommett, said the law favors incumbents, who have name recognition.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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