July 4th Sign Prohibition
On July 4th, 2006, several Mentone residents and businesses that support a slower speed limit and widening of the Mentone Bridge agreed to have yard signs with American flags placed in their yards as a show of solidarity on these issues. The Mayor of Mentone, Mayor Robb Hammond, ordered the removal these signs without consulting the property owners or myself.
According to the Chief of Police, Johnny Furgeson, Mr. Hammond contacted the city attorney, Patrick Tate, on the morning of July 4th to ask about the legality of these yard signs. According to Chief Furgeson, Mr. Tate said it was illegal for these signs to be in the highway right of way or on private property without a permit. Chief Furgerson said he knew of no complaints received on this date about the signs.
On Wednesday, July 5th, I requested a permit from the town so I could legally place the signs in my yard. The town clerk,
Marie Dillenbeck , knew of no such permit. I next requested and received a copy of the town-zoning ordinance on signs.
According to the town ordinance, there are 9 categorical exemptions to Mentone's sign prohibition. . The 9th exemption to the ban allows "Temporary signs" to be placed in yards. It is my opinion that these signs carrying the American Flag on the fourth of July fell into this exemption.
One of America's most cherished freedoms is our freedom of speech. From my research, the law seems clear that the government cannot ban an individual's right to express their opinion. Whether or not one agrees with the signs' message, to take away our freedom of speech and our flag on Independence Day is atrocious.
What do you think? Email us your thoughts!