Town of Spencer updates size, time restrictions on temporary signs

Published 12:04 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

SPENCER — The town has set a new limit on how big temporary signs such as political advertisements can be and how long they can be displayed.

The ordinance amendment sets a 4 square-foot limit on the size of temporary signs in residential areas and 6 square feet in other districts. It also cuts the length of time signs can be placed from six months to a maximum of 60 days before an advertised event and 10 days after.

Town Planner Steve Blount said the statute was changed to match state statutes on the length of time political signage can be placed in the public right of way.

The size limitation changes an old regulation that allowed signs up to 32 square-feet to be placed in commercial districts.

The existing ordinance allows one sign per street frontage. Blount said the town can look into the issue and bring back another amendment on that issue if need be.

Alderman Andrew Howe asked during Tuesday’s town board meeting if there are any First Amendment concerns with the change. Blount said political signage cases have reached the Supreme Court, and the ordinance only regulates the nature of placement, size and duration and deliberately excludes regulating the content of political signs.

The board also amended its development ordinance to limit its ability to criminally enforce planning and development ordinances. This change aligns the town’s ordinances with state law, specifically N.C. General Statutes Chapter 160D, a comprehensive overhaul of development regulation at the state level all municipalities must comply with.

Blount said the next step is to go through the town’s code of ordinances and compile which ordinances the town wants to maintain the ability to enforce criminally.

Civilly enforced ordinances will be enforced through citations. Blount said the change has no impact on enforcing liens.

In other business from Tuesday’s meeting:

• The board accepted a $50,000 grant from Carolina Thread Trail for its Yadkin trail head project.

• The project budget for the town’s town hall project was amended for the close-out phase of the project, accounting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture taking over financing for the project.

• The neighboring town recognized the passing of one of East Spencer’s elected officials on Tuesday.

Spencer’s next-door neighbor in East Spencer lost alderman Tony Hillian in January. Hillian was a longtime fixture in the North Rowan County community coaching sports and as an employee of the City of Salisbury. Spencer Alderman Rashid Muhammed read the town’s recognition of the late community leader during the town’s Tuesday meeting.

“He was committed to serving his community, our community,” Muhammed read, adding he had looked forward to working with Hillian.

• Alderman Sam Morgan recognized the late Danny Patterson. Patterson passed away in January. He was a welder and railroad scale inspector who lived in Spencer despite working in Charlotte.

Morgan said Patterson was an activist in the town, pushing for better code enforcement, stormwater management. Morgan said he told Patterson he wished there were more people who cared as much about the town as Patterson.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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