Allendale Township backs off political sign restriction after Supreme Court ruling

Allendale Twp Backs off Political sign rules

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, MICH. - Some west Michigan communities are backing off restrictions about political signs because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The Allendale Township clerk tells us they stopped enforcing a local ordinance about when people are allowed to display signs.

The Supreme Court's decision was made last year, but election officials say it's having the biggest impact this election. 

On some streets, you may find more signs of Halloween season than political season.

"A lot of times they're (political signs) everywhere, but this year they don't happen to be there," says voter, Greg Butler. 

Now, we've learned that Allendale Township leaders are backing off certain restrictions on political signs.
Specifically, a 2012 township rule that says "No political signs may be erected more than 30 days before an election".

That changed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Township clerk Laurie Richards says she learned about it two weeks ago.

"The county clerk told me that we couldn't enforce this ordinance according to political signs because that's a freedom of speech," says Ricards. 

However, the township has yet to change the language in its ordinance despite the Supreme Court's decision.

We asked Richards if the township should change the ordinance to reflect the Supreme Court's decision.

"I would think they should look at that," says Richards. "I would hope that the zoning people would maybe take a look at that, that that could be changed, if we can't enforce it then maybe it shouldn't be in the ordinance."

Though Richards says she doesn't think that's the reason fewer people have been displaying political signs.

"In the primary we didn't have many local signs put out anyway," says Richards. 

Butler, who voted absentee, has a different reason for not showing support for the presidential candidates.

"I voted for all the other offices, but I really feel that all the people that are up for president are not worthy of my vote or anyone else's, so I just left that blank," says Butler. 

The Ottawa County clerk says the Supreme Court's decision also calls into question another rule in Allendale Township.That rule requires political signs to be removed within five days after an election.

He says he's advised several other communities to not enforce political sign restrictions, including Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, and Blendon Township.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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