We begin with a follow-up on Westmont Borough’s Sign Ordinance that prompted the involvement of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Council voted Tuesday night to amend their fencing and temporary signage Ordinance that caused some controversy last August. They voted unanimously to allow 5 signs per residential property for a maximum of thirty days.
Westmont Borough received backlash over the summer of 2022 when the Pennsylvania A.C.L.U was contacted by residents who received violation notices for the signs in their yard. The Borough Council stated that the issue seemed to be over the question of political signs which are only allowed to be put up thirty days before an election per an ordinance put into place in the early 2000’s. After a discussion led by the Council Solicitor, an amendment was made to only allow Residents to put up 5 signs for 30 days.
Marc McCall, President of Westmont Borough Council saying: “We received a letter from the ACLU about our political signs and we needed to make an adjustment because it was against Freedom of Speech. We just voted tonight to have all signs treated equally. Not just political signs but all signs. We’ve made an amendment that the ordinance has 5 signs. A resident can have 5 signs for 30 days.”
In a past interview with Richard Ting, a Staff Attorney with the Pennsylvania A.C.L.U, we asked him about the validity of putting these kinds of restrictions on signage and he told us that noncommercial signs on residential property fall under the broadcast protection and any sort of time or number limitation is probably invalid.
Marc McCall saying: “You don’t want someone to put up too many signs in their yard. You have too many signs, your neighbors aren’t happy. It really junks up the property. Thirty days is more than enough time to put up signs for fundraisers, to wish someone a happy birthday, graduation signs. This should make everybody happy.”
If residents choose to ignore the ordinance, consequences could follow. McCall adding: “They’ll receive a letter that they broke the ordinance. Then we’d hope that they’d abide by the ordinance and fix that. Then there’s potential fines and a potential visit with the Magistrate. We’d hope that we would never get to that situation.”
The Amendment will be advertised this month and approved at the next meeting.