(Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 30--Beginning Thursday, the city of Fort Smith will begin enforcing a ban on signs in public rights of way.
"The very basic requirement is that temporary signs, or any signs, will no longer be allowed to be placed in the public right of way," Planning Director Wally Bailey said. "There are some exceptions to that."
In early August the Fort Smith Board of Directors approved the measure, which includes exemptions under certain conditions for signs no greater than 4 square feet from noon Friday to noon Monday. Those exemptions are tailored for weekend events like garage sales, yard sales and open houses.
"Even on the weekends, you can't put them on utility poles or on traffic-control devices," Bailey said.
Also, nonprofit organizations are allowed three signs in city rights of way for special events for no longer than seven days. Another exception is for "sandwich boards" on sidewalks in the downtown area as allowed by the Central Business Improvement District.
At-Large Director Kevin Settle, who voted against the ban, questioned the need to impose the rules on residential areas. He suggested tailoring the ordinance to major arterial streets instead.
The ordinance was sparked by complaints from the community. Some directors said they were most concerned with "bandit" signs, small advertisements that sometimes dot intersections and make claims like "We buy houses."
"It may not stop those from happening, but in the event they are out there, we will be picking them up," Bailey said.
Enforcement will come from a combination of community complaints and city inspectors.
Bailey said the city will attempt to make contact with an out-of-compliance sign's owner, but will confiscate signs if needed. Sign owners will have a month to retrieve their advertisements.
"We'll have a storage location, then they would have the opportunity to come pick up the sign," Bailey said.
Bailey said signs are already beginning to be moved out of the city right of way, which is typically between the street and sidewalk or 10 feet from the street.
"So there is already some knowledge of the ordinance," he said.
For those who didn't know, "If the signs are in the right of way now, just move them back," Bailey said.
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