Harrison Rd/Old 95 Intersection



Candidates still struggling with Lenoir City sign law


Placards on public property

By Hugh G. Willett

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Political campaign signs are still posted on public land in Lenoir City despite a warning letter sent out by the city codes enforcement officer last week.

The signs stand in violation of an ordinance passed in May that prohibits campaign signs from being posted on public property or rights of way in the city until 30 days before the November election.

A number of candidates for office, including school board and City Council hopefuls, began placing their signs on public land more than a week ago. The city sent letters to the candidates early last week asking for the signs to be removed.

Some of the candidates said they made a mistake on the correct date based on using the early voting date as the start of the election. The ordinance states that the 30-day period is based on Election Day.

Lenoir City Codes Enforcement Officer Leslie Johnson notified candidates last week that signs should not be on public property. The earliest date to have signs out on public property is Oct. 7, she said.

Johnson said Tuesday that there were still some signs located on public land. She said some of the signs located on the border of private and public land are questionable.

"Some of them are just a foot or two over the line," she said.

Other signs are clearly located on public land, Johnson said. She said that this week she will begin pulling and collecting those signs in violation of the ordinance. The candidates will be notified where they can pick up their signs, she said.

During the discussion of the ordinance, council members were concerned about the impact of the signs on tourists passing through on U.S. 321. On Tuesday, most of the signs visible last week along the highway had been removed.

A campaign sign for City Councilman Harry Wampler was visible on land between Lenoir City Elementary School and a city park. Wampler could not be reached for comment.

Becky Watkins, a candidate for City Council, said she had no trouble understanding the rules for campaign signs that were included in her election packet.

"I think elected officials should understand the rules they create for others to follow," she said.

City Councilman and Loudon County Road Supervisor Eddie Simpson, who was among those who voted for the sign ordinance, said he was well aware of the restrictions relative to public land. He said he began putting his signs up last weekend, but only on private property.