2009-06-17 / Opinions

Illegal sign ordinances should be enforced

Dear Editor, 

I read the [letter to the editor] on illegal signs in your May 27 edition of the Chesterfield Observer with great interest. It’s too bad that the author withheld his name. Maybe he felt that he would be the victim of some sort of retribution for expressing his opinion. The [letter] indicated that there are literally thousands of signs posted in the county which are illegal, and in many cases the signs were posted without any interest in complying with the laws of the county.

The job of enforcement lies with the county, but a previous article that I read on illegal signs indicated that the county is only interested in compliance with fines being a last resort. Another article indicated that enforcement of the sign ordinance is complaint driven.

If that is the case, then maybe the only way to reduce the number of illegal signs in the county is for citizens like the gentleman from Midlothian to file hundreds of complaints online which then forces the county to investigate the complaints. One can hardly drive down the road without seeing a violation.

I would like to suggest that the county publish a sign policy that is easily understood by all. The policy could be made available for viewing online. After that was done, I would establish a 60-day amnesty period for homeowners and businesses alike to come into compliance with the county sign ordinance. After that, code compliance officers and possibly a trained cadre of volunteers would spread out over the county equally by districts and remove any and all illegal signs posted at ground level and leave the owner a copy of the county sign ordinance along with a warning that additional violations would lead to fines. I would also recommend that work schedules be changed to include at least one weekend day per month per code compliance officer to address weekend code violators. Signs posted on structures would be identified and addressed individually by a code enforcement officer for compliance.

Another sign issue that needs some real enforcement is signs posted by political groups. Political groups know that posting political signs along roadways is illegal. These types of signs should be removed immediately regardless of one's political affiliation, and the campaign fined.

I don't want to give the impression that the county is doing little or nothing about code compliance. What I want to say is that more enforcement is needed, and if an inspector is on his/her way to investigate a complaint and notices other violations, those violations should also be addressed.

As far as forming a committee of community leaders to be a steering committee for sign policy, it's a great idea, but we should not lose sight of the fact that code compliance laws already exist, and those laws need to be enforced now and not a year or two from now after a steering committee has been established and recommendations forwarded to the planning commission and onto the board of supervisors for approval.

Jim Pearson Chester

Dear Editor,

If Mickey Moore's letter to the editor (June 3 issue) implied that his purpose was to break the law by putting out illegal signs, then Bob Olsen (May 20 issue) should be commended for stopping law breakers. Way to go, Bob!

Mike Burnette Midlothian

Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to, mailed to  P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer's phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit www.chesterfieldobserver. com and click on "letters policy."

Return to top