Effective May 1, the city of Hinesville will fine individuals for placing signs within the city’s right-of-way whether on traffic signs, utility poles, fences, boxes or other objects. The city’s right-of-way includes ditches and sidewalks, fire hydrants, telephone boxes and any public utility.
Hinesville code enforcement officer Maureen Mobley said fines could be set at $104 per sign, as most temporary signs are often attached to public utilities and traffic lights.
However, both Mobley and Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards stressed fine amounts for illegal signs are left to the discretion of the municipal court judge.
“People should know that Georgia DOT also removes signs in the right-of-way,” Mobley said. “We’re not the only ones that have to remove them.”
She said Highway 84 and E.G. Miles Parkway are both DOT roads and so the department has the authority to remove signs placed in the right-of-way.
Mobley said many signs she and other city inspectors often find in the right-of-way are yard sale signs.
“It’s usually in the spring when people have yard sales when many of those signs are put up,” she said.
The moratorium allowing residents to put signs in city rights-of-way from noon Friday to noon Monday was canceled with the passage of Hinesville’s new ordinance, Mobely said.
The Hinesville City Council approved its new sign ordinance March 4.
In conjunction with the new ordinance, the council plans to establish the City of Hinesville Citizens Sign Appeals Board.
This new board will consist of six members appointed by the mayor and council, with each elected official responsible for selecting one board member. City officials will make these board appointments at the council’s next meeting on April 1.
Although only one resident publicly opposed the ordinance before the council voted to pass it earlier this month, others in the community previously had spoken out against it.
Hinesville resident Reggie Sage opposed the sign ordinance when it was first drafted last year and said, in his opinion, the ordinance is unconstitutional and a violation of the first amendment.
“Signage is freedom of speech,” Sage said.
He asserts the city based its ordinance on aesthetics.
“The minute they apply aesthetics to it, they’re wrong,” Sage said.
However, according to a legal notice the city placed in the Coastal Courier last week, Hinesville’s sign regulations have been in effect since 2006.
“Our thoroughfares are cluttered and aesthetically blighted due to the increasing proliferation of signs,” the notice reads. “It has now become imperative the city takes action to another level to enforce the ordinances as they are written to protect the welfare of the communities by reducing the blight that has grown throughout the city of Hinesville.”
For more information on the city’s sign ordinance, call the Hinesville Department of Inspections at 876-4029.