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Greencastle: Please comply with sign, nuisance rules

May 08, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Borough of Greencastle officials are politely asking residents to comply with the borough's sign and nuisance ordinances this spring, in the hope that doing so can avoid policing complaints for overgrown weeds, sandwich-board signs and trash.

Borough Manager Ken Womack said in the spring, residents start to complain about nuisance and sign ordinance violations.

Often those complaints go directly to the Greencastle Borough Police, expending valuable public safety resources on minor issues, he said.

Police Chief John Phillippy said that in the warmer months, abandoned or discarded objects, including furniture, appliances and barrels, appear in yards throughout the borough. Weeds, brush and grass also become problems, he said.

"Every year in the spring, we receive a substantial number of complaints about overgrown weeds, brush or grass, as well as excessive junk, trash or debris," he said.

It is expensive for the borough to pay its staff to cut weeds, haul trash and remove brush, said Public Facilities Chairman Harry Foley.

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"Having our staff enforce these ordinances is not the best use of borough resources," he said.

To add to the annual issues with weeds and trash, dozens of sandwich-board signs of all sizes are peppering borough sidewalks, creating safety hazards, Womack said.

Businesses put out the signs, officially known as point-of-sale signs, to attract customers, he said.

Alone, the signs are not a problem. It is when they encroach on the public right of way, are placed on someone else's property or are so large they are clearly intended to be read by drivers that safety concerns arise, he said.

The Borough Council's committee on public facilities raised the issue of sandwich-board signs, for which permits are not needed and whose sizes are not limited, to Womack at its last meeting after residents made reference to the signs in the April 23 town hall meeting.

Committee member H. Duane Kinzer said it is important to ensure uniform compliance with the sign ordinance.

"Premise or point-of-sale signs are clearly appropriate when they are located on the business premises, do not obstruct sidewalks and do not obscure vision," he said. "Clearly, our business owners can comply with these ordinance restrictions while still advertising their business."

The borough hopes that by making residents aware of the rules, residents can police themselves and their neighbors, Womack said.

Anyone concerned about a nuisance in their neighborhood or a sign that is causing a safety hazard should first contact the neighbor or business owner, Womack said.

If that does not solve the problem, he encouraged residents to contact him at 717-597-7143 or through the borough's Web site, www.greencastlepa.gov. He asked residents not to call police unless they have an emergency.

Womack said residents and business owners can be fined for not complying with either ordinance.

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