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Bellbrook school levy signs causing stir in community

Published: Friday, March 15, 2019 @ 4:55 PM

Several dozen political signs connected to the upcoming May tax levy for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools were removed after city officials said they violated ordinances in place.

“We can’t control it in people’s yards, nor would we, but when they’re in the right of ways we have to take action,” said Bellbrook City Manager Melissa Dodd.

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Dodd said she and council members received numerous complaints about political signs along Ohio route 725 Monday and removed any signs that violated the city’s policies.

“This weekend apparently there was a barrage of signs that were put out and I received a number of phone calls, texts emails from many different people in the community,” Dodd said.  “Any signs that were placed illegally, no matter what the message or content was, were instructed to be pulled.”

According to Bellbrook’s zoning code, “All signs shall be located on private property and a minimum of 15 feet from the paved edge of the road.  Signs shall not be permitted in the public right-of-way nor in a median, sidewalk or tree light area.”

Dodd said the city removed approximately 50 signs during its early week sweep by the city’s service director.

The city of Centerville, which has a portion of the city located within Sugarcreek Twp., removed 48 political signs that were found to be placed in violation of the city’s ordinance, according to spokeswoman Maureen Russell-Hodgson.  She said the signs were returned to their owner.

Centerville doesn’t permit any temporary campaign signs in the public right-of-way.

Sugarcreek Twp. officials also received complaints about the same political signs being posted throughout the township, however the township does not have an ordinance that prevents them from being posted.

“Statutory townships in Ohio are limited in our powers and we’re not granted the authority to pass that kind of restriction,” said Sugarcreek Twp. Administrator Barry Tiffany.  “We’ve taken a position as a township for at least a decade, maybe two now, that we don’t get into the political fray of the signs as long as they are placed where they don’t create an unsafe environment for travelers.”