Manlius town board votes to repeal political lawn sign ordinance

— At its Sept. 11 meeting, the Manlius town board voted unanimously to repeal the law that sets the boundaries for when and where political signs can be erected in the town.

One month ago, town of Manlius resident David Rubin sued Supervisor Ed Theobald and the town councilors after unsuccessfully trying to communicate with town officials about changing the sign ordinance, which he believes restricts free speech and violates the First Amendment.

About 20 residents attended the meeting, which began with a public hearing and followed with Theobald signing a certificate of necessity, which waives the mandatory seven day waiting period before a resolution can be put in place, and is required by municipal law.

After a brief discussion, the board voted to repeal the political sign ordinance, which town clerk Allison Edsall said would go into effect on the morning of Sept. 12. Meanwhile, as the board works on drafting a new set of rules, there are no restrictions on political lawn signs in the town.

“There are other municipalities that have sign laws that are constitutional; [those are] something we’ll probably look into,” Theobald said. “Once the law is repealed, we’re still going to follow the same rules for now. This is not a big political year, so I don’t think it’s going to get out of hand. I think we do have time to really look into this to make it a better law.”

Several residents spoke during the public hearing, voicing their opinions about all aspects of the law that they advised the board to take into consideration when it comes up with new guidelines. Mike McGrew was concerned about preserving aesthetics within the town.

“If you don’t put a limit on the signs, after the election they’re still going to be there,” said McGrew. “Put some restraints on there so we can know what we’re supposed to have. And so we keep this town beautiful and so we don’t have trash everywhere.”

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