Campaign signs spur Houlton zoning review

Posted Nov. 03, 2008, at 10:23 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Town officials amended a municipal zoning ordinance several years ago that dictates where certain signs can be placed in town.

While the ordinance includes wording to say where business signs can be placed in the community, its authors forgot to state where one other important type of placard — political signs — can be placed.

Town councilors could correct that omission later this month.

During the meeting, councilors will consider amending the Houlton Zoning Ordinance to state that signs bearing political messages relating to an election, primary or referendum may be placed in certain places in the community six weeks before the election: Union Square, Market Square, Monument Park and Pierce Park.

Political signs also can be placed on private property with the landowner’s written consent six weeks before the election, primary or referendum.

“Right now, the ordinance does not allow for the placement of political campaign signs,” Town Attorney Dan Nelson said Monday. “It was just an oversight that happened when the sign zoning ordinance was amended. Currently, the ordinance only allows for the placement of business signs.”

Residents are unlikely to notice much of a change once the amendment is made, because political signs traditionally pepper Union Square, Market Square, Monument Park and Pierce Park. They also are highly visible on private property.

The amendment will simply make their placement once again legal under town law, Nelson said Monday.

Under the proposal, the candidate or political committee must remove signs within a week after the election.

Those who violate the ordinance will be fined $100 a day after notification of the violation by the code enforcement officer.

Councilors discussed the issue when they introduced the amendment on Oct. 27. There also was talk of allowing political signs to be placed in Riverside Park, but no final decision will be made until the council addresses the issue during a public hearing on Nov. 24.

jlbdn@ainop.com

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