If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
I see all these little plastic commercial signs at intersections and along road rights-of-way, such as “Mattress company going out of business” or “We buy old houses,” etc. I know they’re illegal, but who is in charge of enforcing the code, and why don’t they remove them? They sit there for weeks, maybe months.
Signs in street or highway public rights of way or within the “sight triangle” at road intersections are illegal in both Hall County and Gainesville.
The Gainesville Code Enforcement Division is responsible for enforcing the laws inside the city limits and they do this on a weekly basis, according to division manager Gary Kansky.
“Twice a week, our guys drive around picking up signs,” Kansky said. “But we can’t just take all day long to go around picking up signs.
“We take the calls that are the most serious and work backward from there.”
There are currently only three code enforcement employees, including Kansky, who are responsible for inspecting and enforcing cases of illegal trash dumping, dilapidated structures, yard parking, junk vehicles as well as assisting other city departments with inspections.
However, there are a few cases where illegal signs become a higher priority. If a sign is blocking the line of sight at an intersection, called a “sight triangle,” or if it is somehow a danger to motorists, then it is removed immediately.
When code enforcement officers find an illegal sign, they remove it and contact the sign owner and inform them of the regulations. Habitual offenders are issued a citation and ordered to appear before an administrative hearing officer or the judge of the Municipal Court. So far this year, code enforcement has issued five citations for illegal signs.
“The thing we try to do with everyone is educate them,” Kansky said. “We don’t want to just write tickets but we also don’t want to have to go back to the same place every week to pick up the same sign.”
Hall County government officials say that there hasn’t been much of a problem with illegal signs in recent years.
“They have not removed any in recent history since they haven’t witnessed a problem and have not received a complaint about signs from the public,” said Katie Crumley, the county’s public information officer.
Like the city, county ordinance outlaws signs in public rights of way and when they obstruct views for drivers. In the event of an illegal sign, the county’s marshal’s office would issue a citation, but none have been issued so far this year.
Both offices encourage the public to contact them if they see an illegal sign. Gainesville Code Enforcement can be reached at 770-531-6570 and the county Marshal’s Office can be reached at 770-531-6762.