Anyone who has read my writing for long enough will know where I stand on sign ordinances. I have a very real problem with them. I honestly don’t think counties should be telling people what they can and can’t do with their property. I am willing to waiver if you can show me how people are at risk from something on a sign – and I mean at risk for physical danger – but so far, I remain unconvinced of any such allegations.
However, with Lee County Commission candidate Tim Nelson sent an email out to local media and Lee County Code Enforcement, it may have had some folks scratching their heads. Why would a libertarian like Nelson be pushing the issue? (Disclosure: Tim Nelson was a contributor at SWGAPolitics.com, where I was the co-owner.)
Nelson’s position is that if you are going to have a law, then you need to enforce it. He doesn’t believe the law is right. He said so in his email. However, he does believe that giving some people a pass – including the county owned Grand Island – then there is something wrong.
I happen to agree that laws should be enforced. If they are unenforceable, then you need to decide whether there should be a law in the first place. Lee County’s Jim Wright said that officials have other priorities. That means that apparently these signs aren’t that big of a deal. Fair enough.
However, if signs aren’t significant enough issue to warrant attention, then why even have a law regulating them in the first place? Why have a law on the books when it seems clear that the impact of the law is so minimal?
The cynical side of me argues that it’s only about control. That side feels it’s about the fact that they can do something, so they did just to remind folks who has the power. The other side of me, the less cynical, isn’t ready to buy that just yet. However, that other side is scratching his head at why a county that is eager to grow would risk that growth by taking on an ordinance that could be so detrimental to business, then just opt to not enforce it.
Make no mistake, Albany’s own sign ordinance is also a study in ridiculousness, but at least Mike Tilson and his people seem to enforce it. While one can almost always find someone who isn’t in compliance, I have not once heard anyone report that Tilson simply says that Dougherty County has other priorities. No, they go an cite that business…and any other businesses in the area that aren’t in compliance.
In all fairness, that stirs up a whole lot of other things, but at least enforcement of the laws appears to be a priority for Dougherty County Code Enforcement.
Maybe Tilson should show Jim Wright how it’s done?