Unintended Message on Signs

I saw this story in July 20 edition of the Argus Leader:

State law on signs packing mixed message

Intent to limit political campaign displays carries unintended fallout

But the law’s sponsor, Stace Nelson of District 25, said the law was meant to restrict political campaign signs, not directional signs.

HB1085 further restricted an existing law that prohibited signs in public rights of way by adding political campaign advertising to the list of prohibited signage.

The were some intersections in rural Minnehaha county that political signs were just a big mess. There were signs,on and in the fence lines, in the ditches and in the right of way, in one spot someone had their message written on the highway itself in what appeared to be sidewalk chalk. Let’s add to the mix Garage sale signs, signs for an apartment for rent, for the business opportunity of a lifetime, etc. It looked worse that the landfill at times.

Most candidates play by the rules. They ask for permission from the land owner, once permission is granted, a sign goes up along the fence where it can been seen. It is then taken down about a week or so after the election, as it should be. There are some people who will put up a large sign along the road, and because it is in the right of way, Land owner’s permission isn’t needed. In one case the candidate asked to put up a sign and the land owner said ?No.? The sign went up any way, just closer to the road.

A small sign, that is lower to the ground, isn’t so bad, you can see beyond it, however when the larger sign are on five to eight feet posts, it becomes a safety issue. It is one thing to be seen and noticed, something totally different to block the view of traffic.

Some of the church signs, should be moved. Some of them are hard to see around at some intersections.

Great intentions, can we tweak this law a tad more to focus on the trash (temporary signs) along the sides of the road?

They other thing I got form this story:

Bob Meister, county highway superintendent, said his department took down the sign after a neighbor complained about having to mow around it.

Someone didn’t like they had to mow around a sign, so they went and complained to the sign’s owner, the business listed on the sign, the county highway superintendent, then everyone got dragged in front of the county commission, now we got lawyers looking into how to apply the law.

Right now the sign in question is back up, and Mr. Hahn has agreed to mow around it. Most likely the same result if the land owner went directly to Mr. Hahn said something like ?Mowing around you sign is a real pain. It is your sign, can you help keep the grass cut around it?? The end result would be most likely the same, except for the lawyer who wouldn’t have anything to do.

Have we gotten to the point that we won’t talk to our neighbors any more? If they are doing something that offends us, do we run to the closest lawyer or local official? If their cows are running loose, do we help them put them back or call the police/animal control? We really should learn to talk to and help one another, without the government having to step in.

13 Replies to “Unintended Message on Signs”

  1. Stace Nelson

    The law was already there that you CANNOT put signs on public property or in the public right of way.

    These are the changes that were made: http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bill.aspx?File=HB1085P.htm

    We used explicit language about political signs as Minnehaha County responded to complaints about the wide spread problem of campaign signs in the ditches & public right of way, that they did not believe the statute prohibited campaign signs in the ditches.

  2. Anonymous


    What if you passed a law that said city ordinances could not restrict campaign signs size if the sign is on private property?

    Some cities do not allow 4×8’s to go up even if the are in the middle of a vacant lot on the outskirt of town.

    I would like to see this kind of thing stopped.

    1. Stace Nelson

      I am not a fan of such things also, esp. when you can see huge commercial signs in the same area that can still contain a candidate’s sign if they can afford to pay.. I wonder if such restrictions would be upheld if challenged?

  3. Anonymous

    Minnehaha signs have to be 4×6, Aberdeen requires extremely small signs in town while Huron, Watertown and Rapid allows 4×8’s to be distributed where ever.

    It’s very frustrating to follow city sign rules when signs are on private property and do not bother traffic or anyone’s safety.

    1. Stace Nelson

      The irony is, that they were enforcing these statutes at the same time they were claiming they could not enforce the statute on people who were putting the large 4X8′ signs in the public right of way…

  4. Troy Jones

    Is this an unfunded mandate on local jurisdictions since they must now remove the signage as per the following:

    It used to say the “jurisdiction MAY remove the same or cause it to be removed.”

    Now it says “jurisdictions SHALL remove the sign, signal, marking, or device or cause it to be removed immediately. The removal may be done without notice.”

  5. Shelly

    Now that we carry our cell phones everywhere and are ditching landlines, no one is in the actual phone book anymore. Easier to call commissioners or Animal Control than figure out your neighbors’ phone numbers to talk with them directly, I guess.

  6. CaveMan

    One of the incorrect diction uses many in the Dakotas abuse is using seen instead of saw, and the first sentance before the main body of this post way up there at the top hopefully is just a typo. đŸ™‚

    By driving along Interstate 29 one would think Stephanie Herseth has been running for congress continually for about eight years. And if we can make the signs a negative in the publics mind, we then can put an end to the constant abuse of them being left out there forever.

    In the end though HB 1085 is a good bill trying to force existing law into a workable and enforceable measure.


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