Village of Skaneateles introduces law to remove political sign restrictions

In response to recent events elsewhere in Central New York, the village of Skaneateles is proposing a law that will remove its 30-day restriction on political signs.

Local law no. 2 of 2013 would remove the following regulations from the section of village code that deals with temporary signs: “Political posters shall not exceed four square feet. Placement shall not exceed 30 days. The names and addresses of the sponsor and the person responsible for removal shall be identified on the posters.”

Board members noted that the time restriction has been successfully challenged in other municipalities, most recently the town of Manlius. On Sept, 11, Manlius voted to repeal its entire political sign law which included a 30-day restriction and a requirement that residents get a permit to place signs on private property. That action came in response to a lawsuit challenging the law filed by David Rubin, former dean of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, which he argued was a violation of residents’ first amendment right to free speech granted in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Board members said that having to defend themselves against a lawsuit would waste taxpayer money, something they don’t want to do.

“I am very sorry to see us in this position where we have to amend this law, but we do because we don’t want to put the village in a position of having a challenge, a lawsuit,” trustee Mary Sennett said.

Sennett said she hopes that future candidates and political parties can work together and agree not to put up their signs too soon to avoid clutter in the village.

“I hate to think about our community being inundated with signs more than 30 days before an election, to me it’s adequate time, and even the time that the signs are up, it’s visual clutter,” she said.

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