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No sign of public objection to ordinance change

October 05, 2009

There were no public comments Monday night during a public meeting held by the Washington County Planning Commission on a proposal to eliminate all time limits on the placement of election signs.

The county is considering removing a paragraph from its zoning ordinance that says election signs may be placed without a zoning permit as long as they are not put up more than 45 days before a primary election and are removed within 15 days after the general election (or the primary election if the candidate is unsuccessful).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland notified the county that such time limits have been found to be illegal in federal district court cases in other counties, planner Steve Goodrich said. Those courts found the time limits were an unconstitutional limitation on free speech, Goodrich said.

Planning commission ex-officio member James F. Kercheval said he didn't know whether that applied in the case of the county's zoning ordinance because the time limits only apply to when the signs can be placed without a permit.

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The planning commission took no action on the matter at Monday's meeting.

-- Heather Keels

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