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Cornelius News

Campaign signs, not leaves, are first sign of fall in Cornelius

More than 100 political signs outside of Town Hall

More than 100 political signs outside of Town Hall

Oct. 20. By Dave Vieser. If the political ads on television aren’t enough to drive you crazy, maybe the political signs all over town will. There were literally hundreds around Town Hall this morning, as early voting gets under way.

It turns out, Cornelius regulations governing such signs are more lax than neighboring towns. There’s also some confusion regarding when the signs can be put up.

On roads with sidewalks, the grass between the sidewalk and the street is a favorite spot for the signs, and Cornelius has no prohibition against such placement. However, in picturesque Davidson, signs in that strip are completely prohibited, and in Huntersville, permission must be obtained first.

Cornelius Planning Director Wayne Herron reviewed both the Town Code and State Statute in response to questions about the signs between the street and sidewalk. “Neither says anything about where a sign can be in the right-of-way and there is no prohibition listed. So in Cornelius, the signs may be placed in the grass strip between sidewalk and road,” he said.

Not so in Davidson. “We do not allow signs in the public right of way, which would include the area between the sidewalk and the street,” said spokeswoman Cristina Shaul.

In Huntersville, the signs are permitted but with caveats.

“They can’t be any closer than 3 feet from the edge of pavement of the road, and cannot obscure our motorists’ visibility at an intersection,” said Brian Richards from the Huntersville Planning Department. “Also, permission must be obtained from any property owner fronting the right-of-way where a sign is erected.”

While Cornelius before Wayne Herron was notorious for enthusiastic enforcement of sign regulations for businesses and even church barbecues, no change appears likely for political signs. “There isn’t any discussion that I’m aware of by the Town Board to make any modifications to the current placement regulations,” said Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant.

Concern has also been expressed by some town officials, residents, and at least one local candidate concerning when the signs can be put up. “The Huntersville ordinance specifically states that you can put up signs 30 days ahead of early voting, while Cornelius and Davidson state 30 days prior to Election Day,” said Jane Campbell, unaffiliated candidate for the House seat currently held by Republican John Bradford.

“We noticed however that my opponent put up signs in Cornelius earlier than October 9th. Later that day, we spoke with Rep. Bradford’s campaign manager who provided a link to the state statute that allows signs on state roads 30 days in advance of early voting.”

Campbell believes the town could tighten their regulations by specifically noting which streets comply with the state statute, and which apply to the town’s. “Or better yet, have one set of regulations which applies to all roads.”

In fact, the Cornelius Code Advisory Committee will be discussing this very issue at their Oct. 25 meeting, Herron said. “We propose to make sure we are in line with State Statutes, so the idea is to change our language to match State law word for word.”