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Published: Wednesday, 1/5/2005

Springfield Township: Trustees consider farm market signs

Temporary signs for produce at farm markets in Springfield Township should be checked by the fire department for any hazards they may create in blocking drivers' vision.

Trustees recently decided on that policy rather than changing zoning regulations to include the signs that herald the arrival of crops for roadside sale. Bob Seger, township zoning inspector, had asked that the signs be included in regulations that control more permanent signs. Because temporary signs can create the same problems as permanent signs, they should be treated as structures.

Nevertheless, Trustee Marylin Yoder said there are only five or six farmers in the township who sell from farm markets to the public and that for some it is an important part of their livelihood.

The trustees voted 2-1 to consider signs permanent structures when they are embedded in permanent foundations, but that banners and other devices that temporarily advertise merchandise would be considered temporary.

In part, the decision was based on state law that limits township authority over farm markets.

An Ohio attorney general's opinion noted that where there is a dispute, the law ''must be interpreted in favor of the unregulated operation of such farm markets.''

Mrs. Yoder and Andy Glenn voted in favor of a policy to treat temporary signs differently from permanent signs. Bob Bethel voted against the policy.

Fire Chief Ray Feeney said fire department inspectors can be alert for the signs and discuss issues with farmers if the signs appear to obstruct the vision of motorists.

The new policy will be sent to township farmers in a letter to be reviewed by the township attorney.

Trustees agreed that there was no hurry in putting the policy into action because it is unlikely there will be any temporary signs out until spring.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096



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