Morgan LPIN Libertarian Party of Morgan County
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No Win Scenario

The Mooresville Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) states that signs may not be installed "In any public right-of-way, unless specifically authorized by the legislative body or their designee".

What that means is that no sign can be placed in any public right-of-way without town council permission.

Anyone who wants to place a garage sale sign, vacation bible school sign, little league sign or a political sign, must first go to the town council and ask permission.

"Right-of-Way" also refers to that space in front of your house between the sidewalk and the street.

Imagine how burdensome it must be for realtors that have to go beg the town council to put a sign out by the street for every listing, or for downtown businesses to be forced to get permission to put out a sandwich board on the sidewalk with today's specials.

This law is unduly burdensome, and it needs fixed.

At the town council meeting on July 21, our own parks department had to be granted permission to place signs inside the park, or maybe they didn't need permission?

The town attorney struggled to find a clear answer because the law wasn't clear enough to provide one.

Eventually, the council voted on it just to be sure.

At that same meeting councilman Tom Warthen attempted to approve political signage because we have an election coming up in November.

The town attorney stopped him, advising that the way the law was written they are not allowed to approve a 'type' of sign, they can only approve people who come and ask permission.

This law places the town in a no-win scenario.

Approval of a type of sign is against the law and could be considered discrimination against other types of signs.

Suppose business A requests to put out signs and is approved, but business B is denied, isn't that also discrimination?

What if the town council approves candidate A, but not Candidate B?

By default, when you approve any sign you are giving them advantage over all other signs.

Should the town council even have that kind of power?

Conversely then, it seems the town council's only non-discriminatory option under this law is to ban all signs everywhere and never approve any for placement.

That's what they have been attempting since March.

No more garage sale signs and no more church signs, no businesses can advertise in right-of-way's in front of their business.

'Just be Kind' and 'slow children at play' signs have already been removed to enforce this law universally in every corner of our town.

A quick drive around town will tell you it is not working. Signs are still in our town's rights-of-way.

This law is unenforceable in any practical sense.

Taxpayers would literally need to hire and fund sign police in order to properly enforce this law.

But if they don't universally enforce it, they are then selectively enforcing the law against some people, and not others.

They are picking winners and losers.

Thus, deciding who gets punished and who gets ignored.

Should the town council even have that kind of power?

Under this law, no matter what the town chooses to do, someone is being unfairly discriminated against.

They are creating a legal liability that someone will eventually call them on.

The town council should not be able to micro-manage advertising. This law creates a no-win scenario and is unduly burdensome.

Fixing this law to allow for small signage, and removing the town council's ability to pick winners and losers, is the only proper course forward.

Danny Lundy is the Chairman of the Morgan County Libertarian Party.

~ by Danny Lundy | Guest Column | Published August 19, 2020 in The Mooresville Times

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