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Published: Saturday, 9/9/2006

Mayor: Illegal signs now will point to fine

Enforcement of a new Toledo law banning signs in the city rights of way begins today, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and council President Rob Ludeman said yesterday.

Mr. Finkbeiner and Mr. Ludeman stood at Glendale Avenue and Byrne Road in front of a collage of illegal signs advertising pizzas and student housing.

"We're saying anyone who puts a sign up illegally has the opportunity to pay a $75 fine," Mr. Ludeman said.

The law recently approved by council created a new civil violation for posting illegal signs.

The law exempts temporary signs advertising real estate open houses, yard sales, and private social events as long as they are posted no more than 48 hours before the event and removed 24 hours later.

The sign allows for a fine of $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense, and $300 for the third offense.

Officials said the new law is easier to enforce than an existing criminal violation because the inspector has only to take a photo and send it, with the official citation, to the individual or business identified on the sign.

The criminal violation, which remains in effect, is rarely used because it requires a police officer to observe the sign being illegally posted to bring a charge.

Tom Kroma, the city's director of the Department of Neighborhoods, said city workers routinely yank illegal signs out of the ground or off utility poles, but the signs quickly reappear.

Another bad intersection, the mayor said, is Secor Road and Central Avenue, which will be traversed by hundreds of out-of-town visitors when the University of Toledo plays the University of Kansas next Friday.

"I don't want their first impression of our city being a sign telling them 'Lose weight, ask me how,'•" the mayor said.

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