Pontificating on the Signs

Thank you to the Council Members who are cleaning up the town, both in snow removal and sign removal. None of you are paid more than a few thousand dollars per year, with minor payments made for research, review, travel, and attendance in related meetings. Most residents expect you to be compensated for hours of extra work.

In the past few days, it was written that three dozen complaints were made on the small signs and on some fences in town related to the forthcoming low-density neighborhood that is called Baker Farms.

Some signs will have to be relocated and removed and permits filed, to keep everything legal. The sign proponents have been clear in their desire not to annex the agricultural land from the Goris family. That annexation was voted on and overwhelmingly passed months ago. So why do we still have small signs cluttering the town?

I challenge this council to create an ordinance that limits the timeframe in which yard signs can be displayed. It seems that this problem of political speech via small signs does not create such clutter in towns like Rossville, Mulberry, Romney, and Buck Creek. Why not?

These towns understand that allowing signs labeled as Political Speech can lead to hundreds of signs carrying all manner of political speech. Folks probably don't want Dayton to become even more of a laughing matter to those who pass this way, than we already are.

Think of the political speech that is protected when posting yard signs with, for instance, the outline of a kneeling football player - or a rainbow of support for the LGBTQ community.

Know that political speech takes many forms, and without an ordinance, it opens our lovely little town to months and months of harassment to the majority of townspeople who might not agree with a given political stance.

The people of the Town of Dayton are being threatened by just a handful of folks with having even more signs around town, due to the compliance requests made through the Area Plan Commission. To this aggressive but small group, it is okay to follow the rules exactly when it benefits their message. Otherwise, they have historically ignored or bent the rules.

The discussion of "tearing the town apart" due to the small sign controversy has led to just a few townspeople and a handful of county residents chiming in across a number of social media sites. It seems that the division is a figment of the imagination. Dayton has over 700 registered voters. Five percent of them equals 35 people, and you would be hard pressed to find even half of them posting on "division" and "small signs" across the many social media sites related to Dayton in the past 60 days.

So, thank you for the opportunity to speak on any topic at each council meeting, allowing residents to voice opinions in a public setting without fear of harassment. It is not a surprise that you give residents a voice in their future.

Dave LeiningerComment