Man signs up to fight Charles Town sign rules

May 20, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - When Charles Town resident Doug Lance received a notice that his sign was too large, he read the town's sign ordinance.

He admitted his for sale sign for his house is larger than allowed, but instead of taking it down, he got out his camera.

Lance shot dozens of pictures of other homes and businesses in violation of the town's ordinance.

"I would have shot more but I ran out of film," Lance told the town Council Monday night.

He shot pictures of signs too large, or located too close to the street. He had pictures of decorative flags flying from porches and lamp posts connected improperly.


Lance said he was sent a notice because a town employee had filed a complaint about the sign in front of his house.

Lance said that if he is made to take down his sign, he'll file complaints about all of the other violations he spotted.

"I'm admitting I'm entirely in the wrong here, but you can bet if I'm made to comply, I'm going to make sure everyone else has to comply as well," Lance said.

"If it's going to be applied, it's got to be applied fairly," Lance said.

Lance said the town's ordinance is too strict.

"The ordinance is so restrictive, I don't know how anybody can comply with the regulation," Lance said.

Council member Mary Via said she probably is in violation too since she has decorative flags.

She agrees that others should have to comply with the ordinance.

Lance said his sign is 16 square feet. He made it himself out of wood. The town ordinance allows for temporary for sale signs to be only four square feet.

The town's sign ordinance is enforced by a consultant who works part time, town officials said.

Town officials said Lance can keep his sign up temporarily until they discuss the issue with the town's inspector at the next Council meeting.

Town officials said they also may need to look at the town's sign ordinance to see if it is too restrictive.

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