Volume 12, Issue 49 ~ December 2 - December 8, 2004
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“Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs …

Blocking up the scenery and breakin’ my mind.”

No, this is not an editorial about the Five Man Electrical Band, an obscure Canadian group that we haven’t heard much from since they sang this rebellious tune in the 1970s.

But their song is an appropriate commentary on the abundance of signs we’re seeing these days in Chesapeake Country. Stuck in the ground. Stapled to telephone polls. Blowin’ in the wind. (Whoops, another song.)

How long do lost pets stay lost? Didn’t that garage sale happen in August? Are those bicycle enthusiasts keeping up their directional arrows on rural roads for next year’s rally? We’ve seen signs directing guests to weddings that happened so long ago that the happy couple has since divorced.

And what about those carpet cleaning and weight loss placards stapled to telephone polls and trees? Is there a statute of limitations on how long they can stay? Or must we wait for wind and rain to remove them?

More than a few people rely on posting signs for their businesses. In Edgewater, who doesn’t know Frank’s is closing when rows of low-rise foam-board signs proclaim it all along the Route 2 right of way. In Deale, lines of signs proclaimed that Arthur Treacher Fish and Chips — who even knew they were still around? — had come to town.

Roadside signs must be a cheap means of advertising. (Although as an advertising-driven newspaper, we question their effectiveness).

But it seems to us that people who paste, glue or tack signs up should, at some point, be responsible for taking them down.

Many folks, like those in the real estate business, remove their signs for use another day. Even the politicians have carried away their signs that stood long enough after November 2 to cheer victors and rub salt in the wounds of losers.

In harvesting what they planted, they’re not only acting responsibly. They’re also keeping at least one step ahead of the law.

Posting signs between the road and utility poles is illegal on all state numbered routes.

“They’re distracting for motorists and a traffic hazard as drivers slow down to read phone numbers. Light signs might even blow away and hit motorists,” said Kellie Boulware, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.

Even the utility poles are off limits.

Who’d have thunk it? Not, apparently, the scoff-laws who read themselves into the word public in our right of ways.

Post signs on roadway or pole, and highway maintenance crews are supposed to carry them away. If the sign-planters leave their number, they will get calls (or emails) asking them to retrieve their signs.

Highway maintenance crews are supposed to carry away signs posted on roadway or pole. Offenders could even be fined, but it’s not likely.

Are these irritating roadside signs like litter, just one more nuisance we’ve got to live with? Certainly putting up signs that say Post No Signs is not a better solution.

We’re hoping that in Chesapeake Country we will police ourselves. If not, irritated citizens could start making calls to county officials or sign-posters themselves. After all, they’ve left their phone number for all of us to see. And see. And see …

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.