The election is over, but thefts of yard signs continue. Now, the victims are non-profit organizations. The Westport Police Department just issued this press release:
Numerous claims of missing lawn signs have been reported over the pastfew weeks by local nonprofits. Some of these signs were displayed on private property or were authorized to be placed on public property.
A group calling itself “The Committee” has written to at least one local nonprofitorganization stating that if they fail to remove lawn signs, “The Committee” will take down their signs “at first sight.”
The individual or individuals behind “The Committee” have not identified themselves. However, this incident has been reported to police and is underinvestigation.
Residents are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property. Enforcement of town rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not private citizens.
The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign,may constitute theft. Entering onto private property to remove signs may constitute trespassing.
Both of these acts can result in arrest.
Anyone with information about the recent rash of missing signs is asked to call the Westport Police Department: 203-341-6000. Charities that have had signs removed from authorized public or private locations are also encouraged to file a formal police report.
Nonprofits are reminded that signs advertising charitable events must be reviewed and approved by the town before the signs can be placed on town property or in the town right-of-way.
An electronic copy of the Temporary Sign Request form is available on the town’s website. Paper copies of this document can also be obtained from the First Selectman’s office.
For each event, a total of 15 signs are allowed on town property and in the town right-of-way. These signs cannot be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and they must be removed within 2 days after the event.
Earlier today, I posted Amy Ancel’s story about the theft of legal signs for non-profit events. Here’s a re-post from 2017, courtesy of the Westport Police Department:
Unfortunately we have experienced vandalism and theft regarding temporary signs in the past. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. These crimes may lead to criminal charges such as trespassing, criminal mischief and/or larceny.
The following policy has been established by town officials, in order to provide coordination for the placement of temporary signs by Westport non-profit organizations wishing to advertise one-time-only charitable events. Signs placed on public property advertising a private business or company will be removed. (Bold italics are mine!)
The sign in the foreground is illegal. (Photo/John Karrel)
General Guidelines for ALL Temporary Signs
Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way.
The town may not approve, nor is it responsible for, any signs erected on State of Connecticut property. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway), as the state may remove them.
No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission of the superintendent’s office.
No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore.
No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.
No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.
No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.
Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private property shall not extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-way and is suggested they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.
There are rules for advertising charitable events.
Temporary Signs for Advertising Charitable Events
The placement and locations of temporary signs on Town property for the purpose of advertising a charitable event requires review and approval by the Westport police chief, director of Planning and Zoning, and director of Parks & Recreation, or their designated representatives. Qualifying organizations (i.e. local non-profits) may send the attached request, including proposed locations, for the placement of temporary signs to: Selectman’s Office, Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following conditions will apply to charitable events:
A maximum of 15 signs are allowed for each such event. This includes directional signs.
The signs may be erected not more than 2 weeks before the event and must be removed within 2 days after the publicized event.
The size of the sign cannot exceed 2 feet by 3 feet.
Non-compliance may result in the removal of signs.
Please note that this press release pertains to Town of Westport roads, and not state roads, like Route 1, Route 33, Route 57 and Route 136.
Temporary Signs for Political Purposes
Political signs are considered an expression of free speech and are allowed on public property. The General Guidelines noted above apply to temporary signs for political purposes.
Flanking the east bank of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge on the Post Road, next to the Saugatuck River, are 2 small, triangular, landscaped signs. One says the gardens were “Designed and Donated by The Laurelrock Company.”
These gardens also include granite pillars of varying heights. They do not have an explanatory plaque.
One of the small gardens by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge …
These pillars seem to echo similar installations memorializing sad events.
Does anyone know their significance?
Whatever their meaning, it’s a pet peeve of mine that these gardens — and many other public Westport plots — are being overrun by lawn signs for various organizations and events,
Many are commendable. Some are even non-profit.
But must we now have lawn signs all over town year-round, rather than only during election season?
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