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Sparta Amends Political Sign Code, Giving Property Owner Choice Of Size

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Sparta Amends Political Sign Code, Giving Property Owner Choice Of Size

The Sparta Board of Aldermen has approved a change to its municipal code removing a size limit for political campaign signs.

The original ordinance says signage can not exceed four square feet in area. City Administrator Brad Hennessee said he recommended simplifying the code to give private property owners the choice on signage.

“There are a lot of city’s that use a one sentence. Something similar to that, and they don’t have a lot of blow back on that,” Hennessee said. “That seems to be the fairest way to do it is to let the private property owner be the one to decide.”

Mayor Jeff Young said Thursday’s decision to simplify the ordinance could still be subject to change though. City Attorney Lynn Omohundro said ongoing litigation on sign codes in higher courts could change the law.

“There’s been a lot of litigation over signs and billboard ordinances being declared unconstitutional. They are actually still pending,” Omohundro said. “We actually have a seminar at the end of the month to discuss those developments. I think it is kind of in flux. Nobody really knows what the law will end up looking like at this point.”

Omohundro said she recommended waiting on the change until the outcomes are known. On the other hand, Aldermen Jerry Lowery said the size limitation was not being enforced by the city. Lowery said based on that, the city should act and not have a code that it does not follow.

“I just don’t think it is good practice for us to go in with us saying we are not going to enforce this,” Lowery said. “Let’s say I want to do something else in another area and I go, ‘Well, you didn’t enforce this one… Why are you enforcing mine?’ I think that opens us up to say we are picking and choosing winners and losers.”

Hennessee said he agreed with Lowery’s viewpoint, and the city should amend the code. Lowery then made a motion that was unanimously approved to accept Hennessee’s recommendation and allow Omohundro to bring back her findings to determine if an edit is needed.


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