Originally published in The Weekly Packet, October 10, 2013
Blue Hill selectmen consider ordinance to limit signs at roundabout
Blue Hill selectmen discussed whether to consider an ordinance limiting signs in the newly-constructed roundabout as election season comes closer.
by Faith DeAmbrose
Where is the public allowed to place signs in public? That is the question Blue Hill selectmen are currently asking as they consider the future of the town’s roundabout during the next election cycle.
Shortly after the roundabout work was completed, discussion occurred in the selectmen’s office about whether or not signs should be allowed in the inside of the traffic circle—and while the issue revolves around safety, the selectmen acknowledge that there is a fine line where safety and the First Amendment intersect.
According to an attorney for the Maine Municipal Association, responding to an inquiry from town officials, a municipality has the authority to limit signage in town—but only after a corresponding ordinance has been approved by the legislative body at a town meeting. Maine law, through statute (23 MRSA: Highways), sets forth parameters for the placement of signage, most specifically as it pertains to off-premise commercial signage, and gives a municipality the right to create local sign ordinances providing they are consistent (and not less strict) than state law.
According to Selectman Jim Schatz, the town is looking into draft ordinances, as well as reviewing an extensive sign study conducted by the state of New York, which considers “almost every scenario imaginable,” he said.
The selectmen made no decision at their Friday, October 4, meeting, other than to continue researching the topic with an eye on possibly presenting an ordinance to voters at town meeting.