The American Civil Liberties Union and Westmont are talking about the Borough’s enforcement of their sign ordinance, specifically over the display of political signs — more than 30 days before the Election. The deadline has passed for Westmont Borough to respond to complaints about their sign ordinance. The ACLU told the Westmont Borough it must stop sending out violation notices to their sign ordinance or face legal action. We spoke with the Pennsylvania’s ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak and he told us the Borough claims they can’t do anything about the current sign ordinance until the meeting next month.
Vic Walczak, the Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director saying: “The only question is, are they gonna stop enforcing this voluntarily or are they going to do it under a Federal Court Order?”
Walczak says the Westmont Borough understands there are issues with their sign ordinance. Walczak saying: “They’re claiming they can’t do anything until they take official action in mid September.” The Westmont Borough has been sending violation notices to Residents for having signs on their property that go against the Borough’s sign ordinance. The focus has been on political signs displayed now, more than the 30 days from the election limit in the current ordinance. Walczak adding: “As of this minute, nobody should be getting a violation notice. If anybody does get that violation notice they should probably remove the sign so they don’t get into further trouble and then they should contact us and then we can take legal action.”
Walczak says a municipality can enforce a size limit for signs, but its not okay to prohibit people from displaying any kind of sign on their property whether it is political or not. Walczak adding: “I think the most important thing for, for your viewers to know is that the law is very clear. The First Amendment gives Homeowners a right to display signs and you know any kind of political message, campaign sign or ‘I don’t want an asphalt plant’ on their property.”
Walczak mentions that most of these cases settle without even having to go to Court, but he says they’ll go to Court if they have to, saying: “When you go to Court this is not making new Law. This is simply enforcing decades old Constitutional Rights that you know the Supreme Court has decided and has reaffirmed in the past few years. These are peoples homes. This is their Free Speech Rights. And if you don’t have Free Speech Rights in your own home, you’re not going to have it anywhere.”
Walczak says Westmont Borough’s current sign ordinance is Unconstitutional. He says — if Residents continue to get violations, they should fill out a complaint form on their website. As for the Borough, we tried calling several times but got no response.