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Maumee lifts limits on political placards

Maumee city council last night amended the city's zoning code to eliminate time limits for political signs.

The city's law originally limited the display of political signs to 31 days before an election and five days afterward.

In August, three residents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Toledo, saying the law infringed on their right to free speech.

During a public hearing last week of the city's municipal planning commission, no one spoke in favor or in opposition to the amendment.

Sheilah McAdams, the city's law director, stated during the hearing that council proposed the amendment to prevent litigation expenses to defend the constitutionality of the time limit.

Waterville and its administrator, Thomas Mattis, later were added as defendants in the lawsuit because the village has an ordinance that resembles Maumee's. Mr. Mattis said the village is not enforcing the law pending a possible change.

Officials are looking at “retooling” it, Mr. Mattis said.

“Our intention is to change, if not to eliminate, the time limit for political signs,” he said. Officials are waiting for a legal recommendation, and the lawsuit is pending in court.

Maumee council member Todd Zimmerman said yesterday that the issue of political signs is an item for consideration by council's code committee, so “it will be addressed in the future.”

Council could regulate the posting of political signs by setting time limits for signs made of different materials, he said.

A steel sign, for instance, might be permitted for a longer period than a paper sign because the steel sign would pose less of a litter concern than a paper sign.

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