Drive through most any neighborhood in Decatur and if you are even slightly observant, you will see advertising signs posted on utility poles.
If you live over in the Southeast side of town; especially around Magnolia Street and Stratford Road, you can’t help but to notice them.
Neighbors there say they are becoming a nuisance.
So much so that one; Harry Hames, took to the social media site Facebook to try and get some answers.
“It’s an eyesore” said Hames about many of the signs that started popping up about two weeks ago. Most are advertising a Landscaping business that; according the Decatur City Clerks office, does not have a business license to operate inside the city limits.
We attempted to contact the business; White Shovel Landscapes, but were unable to reach them for a comment.
Hames also said that he contacted the Building Department; which enforces city ordinances regarding outdoor advertising, but was told that the City “doesn’t have enough people to check every sign in Decatur.”
We went down to City Hall to the Building Department and spoke with an individual who, while they did not want to be named, did acknowledge that there was a problem with illegal signage “all over town”. He also suggested that we talk to Bob Sims about the specific ordinances regarding such.
According to Mr. Sims, yes, there is a problem with people putting signs up all over and not just on utility poles. The City has several ordinances prohibiting such. One; Section 16-2, says that “No person shall paint, print, tack, paste, stencil or otherwise mark upon, or in any manner place upon or affix to any buildings, fence, wall, tree or telephone, telegraph or electric light or power pole, without the consent of the owner thereof, any word, letter, character, figure, sentence or device, or any sign, banner, or notice.”
Another, Section 25-76 says in part that “No sign, nor any part thereof, shall be erected or located in or project over any public right-of-way, except as otherwise provided by this article.”
Sims also said that even though there are codes making the posting of such signs illegal, it’s enforcing the law that’s the hard part. Despite the fact that there are only two individuals working to enforce the Codes, catching the violators in the act is almost a necessity before any legal action can be taken against them.
He advised anyone seeing individuals posting signs like the ones in Southeast to either call the Police Departments non-emergency number to have an officer come out or if you can safely do so, take a picture of the person putting the sign up along with a tag number. That way, information can be gathered so that a complaint can be filed in the Magistrates office and legal remedy can be made.
Sims said that the best way to let others know that you don’t appreciate them junking up the city is to not solicit businesses who illegally advertise in town.
We also reached out to Decatur Utilities to get their comments about this issue. We talked with Paul Nosal who agreed with Sims that enforcement of the ordinances and removal of said illegal signs are hard to do.
Nosal stated that with over 16K poles, it’s not feasible for DU to have workers going around and removing the signs. “There’s no one to police the process”, he said.
When asked if anyone has asked for authorization to post signs on any utility pole, Nosal said that historically no one has ever come to DU and requested permission.
We will keep you up to date on any changes to this story.