Campaign signs are welcome, if they’re in the right location
Published 10:40 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016
With the presidential election around the corner, campaign signs have already popped up on lawns around Oxford and Lafayette County, showing homeowners’ support for their choice for of president, along with a few local elections.
As long as the signs are placed on private property, they are legally allowed to be there.
Signs placed on the grass between the sidewalk and the roads are in the city right-of-way.
Campaign signs fall under Oxford’s temporary sign ordinance that was passed in 2007 and updated earlier this year.
Signs can be no larger than 6 feet-by-4 feet in all designated historical preservation districts or in areas zoned residential. Temporary signs in all other zoned areas cannot exceed 32-square feet or 68 feet in height. Identical signs should not be placed closer than 50 feet from each other, according to Building Director Randy Barber.
If the signs are on the right-of-way, city crews may move them onto private property. However, if someone is obviously placing multiple signs in the right-of-way, they can be removed. If a candidate wishes to get those removed signs back, they have to pay a $50 fine.
Most signs are removed because they get in the way of city crews mowing the rights-of-way.
On the Square, political banners can only be hung for 15 days at a time, four times a year.
Signs or banners in commercial areas that have community messages like “Get Out and Vote,” are allowed without restriction. Those advertising or campaigning for a particular politician must follow the city’s sign ordinances.
While stealing campaign signs is generally a bigger problem during the presidential elections, Oxford Police Department Maj. Jeff McCutchen said stealing campaign signs is illegal and someone caught could face a misdemeanor charge or petty theft and possibly trespassing if while stealing the sign you go on private property. However, the theft must be witnessed by the property owner and reported to OPD.
“If they see someone stealing signs, give us a call,” McCutchen said. “We ask you don’t approach them or attempt to handle the situation without us.”
No county laws
In Lafayette County, there are no laws about campaign signs, according to County Administrator Lisa Carwyle, as long as the signs are not on county property.
However, if signs are placed on local state highways, the Mississippi Department of Transportation will remove all signs, structures or other obstruction from the highways’ rights-of-way. The width of rights-of-way areas vary by location and includes the driving lanes, shoulders, mowed areas and potentially may reach distances of 300 feet or more from the center line of the driving lanes. Signs are not permitted within areas used for clear vision at intersections so they will not interfere with the sight distance of a driver. No signs are allowed in limited access rights-of-way. Typically, the right-of-way is larger near roadway intersections.
Signs removed by MDOT crews will be kept for two weeks at a local MDOT maintenance facility, and then discarded. Candidates may retrieve signs from MDOT without penalty.
“Illegally placed campaign signs contribute to our state’s $3.2 million litter problem that spoils Mississippi’s natural beauty,” said MDOT spokesman Jason Scott.
A few local races
Besides the presidential election on Nov. 8, there are a few local seats up for grabs in Lafayette County. Two county school board positions will be on the ballot with Brent Larson, Johnny Parker and Bryan White running as Independents in District 1, while Bob Colston and Kimberly Harwell East facing each other at Independents in District 2.
Also on the ballot is a contested state race for Supreme Court Justice District 3 with John Brady, Bobby Chamberlin, Steve Crampton and James T. “Jim” Kitchens Jr. in the running.
The other contested race on the ballot is the 1st Congressional U.S. House of Representatives seat with incumbent Trent Kelly meeting Democrat challenger Jacob Owens, Reform candidate Cathy L. Toole and Libertarian Chase Wilson.
The deadline to vote absentee in person is Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s Office, which will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. Absentee votes being mailed in must be received by Monday, Nov. 7.
Oxford 1: Oxford Park Commission Office 310 South 15th Street, Oxford
Oxford 2: Oxford Conference Center 102 Ed Perry Blvd., Oxford
Oxford 3: Stone Recreation Center, 423 Washington Ave., Oxford
Oxford 4: Oxford Mall, 1111 West Jackson Ave., Oxford
Oxford 5: Lafayette County Health Department, 101 Center Ridge Drive (Hwy 7 S) Oxford
Denmark-Lafayette Springs-Pine Bluff: Fire Station No. 11, 11 County Road 287 Oxford
Yocona Community Center: 826 Highway 334, Oxford
Philadelphia: Philadelphia Community Center, 1303 Highway 30 East, Etta
Abbeville: Abbeville Town Hall, 8 Business 7 South, Abbeville
College Hill: College Hill Community Center, 10 County Road 130, Oxford
Taylor 3: Taylor Community Center, 78 County Road 338, Taylor
Burgess: Oasis Church, 861 Highway 6 West, Oxford
Anchor-Taylor 4: Green’s Shop, 177 County Road 376, Water Valley
Harmontown: Fire Station No. 16, 823 County Road 313, Oxford
Paris: Fire Station No.14, 31 County Road 430, Paris
Tula: Fire Station No. 6, 153 County Road 436, Oxford
Airport Grocery: Fire Station NO. 3, 15 County Road 369, Oxford