With the August primary approaching, the number of political signs dotting the landscape is increasing and those signs are not always where they are supposed to be.
Tim Morgan, director of inspection services for Cape Girardeau, said political signs can only be on private property. Signs are not allowed on the right of way, and that is causing a lot of the problem. He said the right of way varies throughout the city and it is difficult for candidates and their volunteers to always know where private property begins.
"I know it is tough. Every road is different," he said. He said the best thing a candidate can do is call or go to city hall and staff members can tell them where the right of way is in a particular area.
Morgan said he would not necessarily say this year's candidates have been worse about sign placement than those of years past, but there are a large number of candidates vying for office this year and that means a large number of signs.
He said so far this year the city has taken down several dozen campaign signs for various candidates. He said once candidates learn that a sign is not allowed in an area, they usually do not place it there again.
"They seem to get it once they find out," he said.
It is up to the inspection department and code enforcement officers from the Cape Girardeau Police Department to enforce the rule. He said someone from his department will ride along with an officer and they will go around the city looking for violations. Usually it is easy for the two-person crew to know when a sign is in the right of way, but in some instances they will measure the distance from the road to the sign.
He said there are a few right-of-way areas that seem to consistently attract campaign signs.
"At William and West End there is a wide right of way that looks like an empty lot. It is very tempting to put a sign there, but it is a right of way," he said. He also mentioned the wide shoulders of Lexington Avenue and the grassy islands along Kingshighway are right-of-way areas that are off-limits to political signs.
When the city confiscates a campaign sign, it is taken to a fenced area near the Cape Girardeau Police Department and placed in a corner. Candidates are notified and allowed to collect their signs.
He said so far candidates have been understanding of the city's policy and have not appeared too upset.
While political signs are allowed only on private property in Jackson, as well, city building and planning superintendent Janet Sanders said the city has yet to remove any improperly placed signs this election year.
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