LaGrange puts a moratorium on political sign size enforcement

Published 1:31 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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Are 16-square-foot political signs too big?

That may have been the opinion of the LaGrange City Council when they reduced the maximum size limit for non-commercial-message signs from 16 to eight square feet in 2018 on residential lots. However, many are not aware of the change, including multiple candidates, as evidenced by the plethora of large signs across LaGrange.

Before 2018, LaGrange had tradition traditionally allowed 16 square feet of aggregate non-commercial messages on any lot. As part of the 2018 revision, which was later copied into the UDO, the 16 feet remained for commercial lots but residential lots were reduced to eight feet.

“There are some signs out there that are above the eight [square feet], and there was some confusion as to what’s allowed and what’s not. We had some indications from some of the council that they were interested in going back to the original 16 square feet,” City Manager Patrick Bowie said.

Because of the confusion among candidates, there has been some discussion of changing it back, but that would take a while because it would have to go to the zoning board first and a public hearing would need to be held.

Rather than attempt to change the law during election season, the city placed a moratorium on the size enforcement of non-commercial message signs that are 16 square feet or smaller.

“The moratorium is only to 16 feet or smaller. You’re not saying we’re repealing all sizes until Aug. 1. We’re saying we won’t write you a ticket if you’re 16 feet or less square footage for residential lots,” City Attorney Jeff Todd said.

“If we enforce the current square footage that’s under the UDO, we have to tell the candidates to take numerous signs down. If we have a moratorium, we can get through this election cycle and decide what we want to do for the next election cycle,” Councilman Tom Gore said.

The city had prepared a description of what is allowed and what is not but that didn’t get communicated through to the candidates, according to Bowie.

Election Supervisor Andy Harper said that the county informs candidates to contact the respective jurisdictions for size requirements when placing political signs.

Councilman Mark Mitchell said that he thinks the right thing to do is to not make candidates take up signs that they already purchased since the change wasn’t properly conveyed to the candidates.

The council unanimously approved the moratorium through Aug. 1.