Go almost anywhere in New City, Nanuet or Clarkstown and it is almost guaranteed you will not have to travel far before you see a political candidate’s sign. Very often, it is not just one sign in a location but several, often many. Clarkstown’s Code & Zoning Enforcement Officer Joel Epstein said there is a town regulation for signs and the political candidates are notified.
“We send letters out to the candidates before the election to tell them the rules,” said Epstein, noting that no signs – political or other types - can be put in the public right of way.
The August letter signed by Town Building Inspector Peter Beary advised the candidates where signs could and could not be placed.
The Town of Clarkstown’s Littering & Posting Ordinance, Chapter 173 of the Town Code, prohibits the posting of any and all signs in the public Right of Way. This long standing statute has seen enhanced attention and enforcement over the past several years in a stepped up effort to reduce visual blight, improve traffic safety and visibility and enhance the Town’s general aesthetics.
Please be aware of the following in order to comply with our statute:
Postings of any kind must be on private property with the property owner’s permission. If you do not have private property owner permission, the sign cannot be posted. If you have the owner’s permission, the sign must be on their property, not in the public right of way in front of their house or business.
Despite the distribution of information, Epstein said, “A lot of them have called asking where their signs are. We would rather have them collect their illegal signs instead of us.”
The proliferation of political signs keeps the town’s zoning, building and highway department workers busy as they remove any that are posted illegally. Popular locations include the state highways: Route 59, 9W, 303 and 304 and the medians of those roadways.
“That’s all state property,” said Epstein. “You can’t put a sign there.”
It is an ongoing process.
“We try to clean the main roads,” Epstein said “We like to keep Clarkstown looking good and some of the candidates don’t comply.”
Epstein noted the town prohibits any signs in the public right of way because they can be visual blight and present a traffic hazard by blocking drivers’ line of sight, blowing into a drainage basin or winding up in the roadway. Candidates can post signs on private residential or business property as long as they have the owner’s permission.
Three methods of enforcing the ordinance exist. Epstein said the signs can be picked up the same as roadside litter; the town can take enforcement action in Justice Court or the violator can be required to pay the cost of removing the sign. In most cases, he said the town clears the signs or the candidates remove after the election.