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Political signs problematic across county

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By The Staff

By JENNIFER RAYMOND

rcraymond@bellsouth.net

With the election approaching, political signs seem to be everywhere.

The problem is that in Kingston, the signs are only permitted in designated areas.

“They stick them up all over,” said Willie Gordon, building inspector.

According to Gordon, political signs are not allowed on city or state rights of way.

Under city ordinance, they are permitted in commercial and residential areas, Gordon said.

Gordon said he picks up about a dozen signs a day.

“We’re pulling them up all the time,” Gordon said.

The signs are starting to pile up.

A large stack of them is kept behind city hall.

Gordon said the owner has the opportunity to pick them up.

Since city workers are unsure who puts the signs there in the first place, all Gordon can do is pull the signs from the restricted area.

The signs are not necessarily erected by the candidate they are endorsing.

“If people are putting up signs, they should check with local ordinances,” Gordon said.

Prior to the election, Kingston officials mail each candidate a packet describing the city’s sign ordinance regarding political signs, Gordon said.

“They should take some responsibility,” Gordon said.

Other cities within the county don’t seem to be having as much trouble.

In Rockwood, signs have size restrictions and can’t block the line of sight for cars.

They also have to be removed two days after the election, city recorder Jim Hines said.

When it comes to the state rights of way in Rockwood, Hines said the state seems to look the other way during election time.

Harriman allows political signs to be put up a month before the election, and they must be taken down a week after the election.

Maria Nelson, building inspector for Harriman, said she also sees a lot of signs go up in city and state rights of way.

“We normally don’t make an issue of it,” Nelson said.

Like Rockwood, as long as the signs are not a traffic violation and aren’t placed in the middle of a median, Harriman workers don’t remove them.

“We don’t have much trouble with political signs,” Nelson said.

Roane County currently doesn’t have any restrictions regarding political signs, according to Kay Christopher, zoning officer.

Problems for most cities in dealing with signs comes from businesses using them to advertise.