Ordinance Spurs First Amendment Debate

9 years 4 days 23 hours ago Monday, October 11 2010 Oct 11, 2010 Monday, October 11, 2010 9:00:35 PM CDT October 11, 2010 in News

JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City council is reconsidering an amendment after citizens voiced concerns over a plan that would restrict the use of political and religious signs.

On Monday, city council member Jim Penfold told KOMU 8 the current ordinance is controversial and needs changes.

The council placed the ordinance on the informal calendar after it's meeting last week.The public raised concerns at the meeting because as it was defined, "religious signs", referred to anything with a religious message.

"It could mean restricting religious items like statues of Mary or crosses," said Penfold.  "Sometimes in Jefferson City people like to put up pieces of plywood with Christmas well-wishes painted on them and we don't want to restrict that."

Penfold is the ordinance's sponsor and said his committee will look to rewrite the ordinance so council members can vote on it at the November 1st meeting.

As soon as the city council places an item on the informal calendar, it has six weeks to act on it before the item dies. Penfold said if he doesn't feel the ordinance is written correctly, he'll let it die.

As is stands, the bill would place a time restriction on political and religious signs. Signs could be erected as soon as an election is certified and must be removed seven days after the election. Throughout the year, residents could put up signs for 60 days at a time and would have to put the date the sign is erected in the upper right hand corner.

The ordinance would also set limits for the size of signs in residential, commercial and industrial zones.

Denita Hawley lives in Jefferson City and used to help place political signs all over the city.

"There are some people though that do not recognize the name recognition and what this person is actually, what seat they're running for," said Hawley.

But voters like Timothy Corcoran said they don't need signs to express their political feelings.

"I do it in the voting booth," said Corcoran.

The Jefferson City council meets again on Monday, October 18.

If you'd like to see the ordinance in it's original form, you can click the link at the right side of the page.

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