From Frank Duke, Director of Planning for City/County of Durham:
Your understanding of the ordinance is correct. Mr. Stith’s signs should not be posted in any right-of-way until September 20 since he is not a candidate in the October primary.
I contacted Mr. Stith on Tuesday, September 4, to advise him that any signs he had posted within public rights-of-way were in violation of the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Stith expressed concern, indicating that Supervisor of Elections’ office had given his campaign last weekend as the date on which signs could be erected. I indicated that was the correct date for candidates in the primary, but not those who are not involved in the primary. I assume that the confusion with regard to the date Mr. Stith’s campaign was given relates to the fact that it is rare in Durham that no primary is required. Given that the confusion appears to have resulted from an error made by government, I gave Mr. Stith two days to remove his campaign signs from all public rights-of-way consistent with ordinance requirements that Mr. Stith be given an opportunity to come into compliance with the ordinance provisions; Mr. Stith told me that his campaign will remove the illegal signs.
Beginning on Friday, September 7, Zoning Enforcement Officers will begin removing Stith campaign signs from any public rights-of-way within the City of Durham, as provided by the Durham Unified Development Ordinance. The Planning Department is enforcing the ordinance.
Please be advised that any campaign signs located on private property and not in the public right-of-way are protected free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those signs may be erected at any time (subject to restrictions on size and number) and do not constitute a zoning violation.
Frank Duke, AICP
City-County Planning Director
Labels: 27701, Durham, elections, local politics