News and Tribune

Election 2012

April 9, 2012

Officials remind candidates of rules regarding campaign signs

Political signs being removed from state, federal right-of-way; local municipalities have rules, too

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is reminding Hoosiers that under Indiana Code 9-21-4-6 campaign signs are prohibited from being placed in federal and state highway rights-of-way.

INDOT personnel are required by state law to remove all unauthorized signs within state rights-of-way, including signs placed at:

• All interstates and interchanges;

• All intersections where at least one local, state or federal road intersects with a state or federal highway; and

• All rights-of-way paralleling federal or state highways (the right-of-way extends to the back of the ditch, to the fence line or up to utility poles). INDOT crews will not pull signs placed behind the ditch, fence line or beyond the public utility poles.

Some local municipalities, too, are taking measures to keep political signage in its place as the election season nears.

The New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety recently discussed removing political signs from city right-of-ways. There was some question as to whether the city could take down the illegally placed signs or if the candidate had to be contacted first.

Street Department Commissioner Mickey Thompson said the matter has been clarified, and city employees will be removing political signs from municipal right-of-ways in the future.

In March, the city launched a sign blitz and dozens of commercial signs were removed from right-of-ways. Thompson said no political signs were removed during the blitz, as the board of works was still researching the matter.

As with all signs removed by the city, political advertisements dislodged in New Albany will be stored at the street department for 30 days.

Candidates only have one week to pick up signs that may be removed for misplacement in the Town of Sellersburg, where an ordinance was passed in 2010 regulating the placement of signage.

According to the ordinance — 2010-008 — political advertisements may be placed more than 90 days before the election and removed no more than seven days after the election; no signs are permitted on public right-of-ways; and the penalty for a violation, if it is not corrected within three days, is a fine of $25 per day.

Sellersburg Municipal Works Director Ken Alexander said there has been limited enforcement of the ordinance because there has been only one violation. He added that residents can put up political signs on private property at their discretion.

Jeffersonville Building Commissioner Russ Segraves said Jeffersonville doesn’t have an ordinance that applies to political signs but instead defers to the state regulations on the issues.

“We really haven’t had too big of a problem with it,” Segraves said, noting that most candidates are also prompt about taking them down after elections.

State workers are taking all removed signs from state rights-of-way to the nearest INDOT subdistrict office to where the sign was placed and candidates may reclaim the signs between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, except for holidays.

The public or candidates can also call INDOT toll-free at 877-305-7611 for more information.

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