Recently, I was contacted by Dan Davis, the Ellis County Republican Party Chairman in regards to the City of Midlothian wanting to enforce a city code which prohibits the placement of political signs on private property until 30 days prior to early voting.
I contacted the Code Enforcement Department to verify and they said that they wanted all political signs removed from the private property of people inside city limits.
I got of the phone and posted a message on Facebook telling my supporters about the development.
Then I received an email the next day from John Garfield with the City of Midlothian. This is what is said: “Attached below is the City of Midlothian Zoning regulations regarding political signs. In the last day I am sure most of you have received emails or phone calls regarding the posting of such signs prior to an election. Under the Zoning Ordinance for the City of Midlothian, signs are restricted in size and time of posting. Please note that posting limits do include the date of initial early voting and not just the formal election day. Under the regulations, the City is required to provide 24 hour notice of any violations and then has the right to remove any illegal signs. Signs that are posted on City property or within the street right-of-way that pose a visibility problem or a traffic hazard are subject to immediate removal.
Please consider this your formal notice for removal of signs within 24 hours. Also, please note that due to current redistricting issues within the court, the formal election date may change. If elections are delayed after the initially allowed 30 day posting, they will need to be removed and reposted according to the new election date.
Thank you for your cooperation in this issue. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by return email or at 972-775-7172.
“Section 7.4-2 Political Signs:
a. Temporary, unlit political signs supporting an announced candidate, a party or an issue shall be allowed in any zoning district and may be placed in any yard for a period of thirty (30) days prior to the first day of early voting of the current election cycle.
b. Political signs shall not exceed six (6) feet in height and thirty-six (36) square feet in area, each side, in any zoning district.
c. No sign shall be erected without permission of the owner of the property.
d. Such signs shall be removed within ten (10) days after the election or run-off election to which the signs pertain, or after the termination of candidacy, whichever occurs first. Any signs not removed within this period shall be removed at the expense of the campaign.
e. No political sign shall be placed on any public or City-owned property or any public rights-of-way (i.e. medians, visibility triangle, etc).
f. If such signage is found to be in violation of this section, Code Enforcement shall first contact the campaign headquarters and ask that the sign be removed within 24 hours. If after 24 hours the sign is not removed, the sign can be removed by the Code Enforcement Officer or a designated representative and returned for a five (5) dollar fee for every sign. After one (1) week, these signs shall be disposed of.
g. No permit is required for political signs ‘ ”
I responded: ” Please indicate the location of the sign(s) in question and we will address this problem. Thanks!”
Garfield replied: ” We will not go out and assess each and every candidate sign that has been posted. We are simply making you aware of the regulations and putting you on notice that such postings will be removed following this 24 hour notice.”
Then I started researching and one of my Facebook friends sent me two links. This one covers a similar situation in Lewisville, TX where the city of Lewisville lost a case which challenged the constitutionality of their ordinance. http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2011/nov/07/lewisville-city-ordinance-found-be-unlawful/
This one is the Texas code which states that cities cannot prohibit the placement of political signs on private property http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2011/nov/07/lewisville-city-ordinance-found-be-unlawful/
I sent these two links to John Garfield and asked him to review the links and reconsider the decision. He responded with “These do not override local law.”
I have left most of our signs in place and, so far, I’ve heard no reports of any signs being removed. It’s been 11 days since my conversation with Garfield.
The City of Midlothian is attempting to intimidate us and we will not be intimidated. They are attempting to violate private property rights and free speech rights and it must not go unchallenged. We will not comply with their ridiculous demands.
T.J. Fabby Responds to Midlothian Sign Ordinance