Staff Writer

ASHTABULA - - They keep popping up in high-traffic areas, and they're illegal.

Signs are not allowed to be posted on utility poles, tree lawns or grassy medians owned by the city. But residents have increasingly used these places rather than the newspaper or phone book to post their numbers.

Now, council's community development committee is pushing for stricter enforcement.

Ward 2 Councilman James Paulchel wants to find ways to rid city streets and utility poles of illegal signs, especially ones posted by repeat offenders.

Carl Corbissero, the city's engineering technician/clerk, said there is legislation that specifically deals with signs: unlawful signs, hanging signs, temporary signs and the maintenance of signs.

"In some instances, you can be fined for illegal signs," he said.

Some common signs found in the city are handmade yard sale signs or brightly colored for rent signs. Other signs advertise a house for sale or someone who will watch your pet while you're on vacation.

With a November election coming up, candidates' campaign signs soon will dot the landscape.

Karen Flack of Ashtabula said she is sick of seeing signs and fliers tacked to utility poles. They're illegal and an unsightly form of litter, she said. She admits to being tempted to yank the signs down.

City Manager Anthony Cantagallo's clean-up Ashtabula campaign includes unsightly and illegal signs, he said.

According to the city's planning and zoning code, a garage sale sign can not be placed on a public right-of-way or utility poles. The sign must be removed when the use for the sign is completed, according to the code.

All signs attached to a utility pole are prohibited without the written consent of the utility owning the pole upon which it is placed, the ordinance said. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of at least $10, according the code.

One real estate sign is permitted on the property, but not in the tree lawn, the code said.

Rules for political signs allow only one sign per candidate per lot and may be displayed for 42 days prior to the election and five days after each election, the code said. The building inspector can charge $5 for each sign found in violation.

A sign is not allowed to interfere with traffic or contain the words "stop," "look" or "danger" because it might confuse traffic, the code said.

The building inspector also may order the removal of any sign that is not maintained in a clean, sanitary in healthful condition, according to the code.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/9/2006

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