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Morgan County considers regulating ad signs along highways

March 11, 2006|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va.

An ordinance is being considered by the Morgan County Commission to control the number of outdoor advertising signs along the county's highways.

Barbara Abe and John Coleman of the West Virginia Department of Highways met with the commission on Friday to answer questions about state regulations.

The county ordinance can be stricter than the state's, said Abe, who added that the state highway department does not allow any advertising signs on road rights of way.

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Abe said there are different rules governing sign placement on federally funded and nonfederally funded roads, but any road right of way is 17 feet off the road, and nothing can be placed there.

"The rule of thumb is telephone poles are on the right of way," Abe said. "Go behind the poles, that is private property." Permission must be granted by the property owner, she said.

Abe said since Jefferson County has zoning laws, there is no problem, but "you can see more in Berkeley County."

Commission President Glen Stotler asked if counties can ban billboards altogether, and Abe said they could.

Abe said no license is required to display political signs 60 days before an election.

"They are OK off the right of way as long as they're down after the election," Abe said.

Commissioner Tommy Swaim said he saw them on the right of way. Abe said "we will remove them. They need to be off the right of way because of mowing."

Stotler said the Morgan County Commission will host a meeting to further explore signage control.

Abe said she would ask Bill Light, a director with the West Virginia Department of Highways, to speak at the meeting. She said she also would invite representatives of the seven West Virginia counties she works with.

Stotler said he wanted the meeting scheduled as soon as possible in April.

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