Menomonee Falls — If you plan on running for office in Menomonee Falls any time soon, take heed. Village officials are cracking down on the location and placement of campaign signs throughout the community.
The Village Board on Aug. 18 approved a new campaign sign policy that trustee Steve Raymonds said provides more clear definitions of where signs can and cannot be located, as well as how police enforce the policy. Under the new policy, campaign signs must be located on private property and only with permission from the property owner; they can be placed 12 feet from the back of the curb in urban areas with curb and gutter or 18 feet from the edge of the street in rural areas with roadside drainage ditches.
Signs may not be placed between the curb and gutter and sidewalk, between the edge of the street pavement and walking paths or roadside drainage ditches, in the grass area adjacent to the street pavement, on boulevard medians or on power and telephone poles.
"The new policy is more expedient, that when (police) see signs placed incorrectly, they will not need to call the people, they'll just take the signs down to let them know they have them," Raymonds explained. "(This is) a much more simplified and also expedient proposal."
The more proactive approach to enforcement was sanctioned by the police department, according to Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald, who said this will become a part of regular patrol activity.
"Because the police department is through normal patrol getting around the entire village we felt like this was a more equitable means of dealing with this than on the complaints made on sort of a random basis of wherever people saw it," Fitzgerald explained. "So we actually think this will be better and it's not an additional role; it's part of the normal role of the police patrol."
While Fitzgerald said the signs for the recent partisan primary election were almost all already in compliance, issues with other recent elections prompted the changes to the policy.
"We felt like based on the circumstances of recent elections that quite honestly we needed to get this back in sync," he said. "It had gotten a bit chaotic."
Additional concerns about signs showing up on public property and potential issues with public safety also contributed to the development of the policy, which goes into effect immediately.
"We still believe that perhaps with a clearer set of policy guidelines that are handed out to all political candidates, and the knowledge that there will be fairly straightforward direct enforcement, we think this is going to be self enforced and people will handle their signs in a very good way," Fitzgerald said. "The hope is that this is not an onerous task for police department because the candidates will put the signs where they belong and get permission from property owners and hopefully there won't be enforcement necessary."
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