Looking to find solution for signs

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

“Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

“Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

The lines from the pop song “Signs” are as appropriate today as they were when they were first written in 1970 by Les Emmerson of the Canadian-based Five Man Electrical Band.

And that’s creating a problem in Steubenville, especially when it comes to the proliferation of signs popping up alongside roads promoting roofing companies, construction companies, fortune tellers — all placed along the city’s rights of way.

There are so many, in fact, that 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna has described them as being everywhere. They make it difficult for drivers to see when they come up to an intersection, and they can be blown into the street, leading to an increase in litter around the community. Besides, according to Villamagna, they look plain trashy.

His complaints serve as a reminder that it is illegal to place any signage on a city right-of-way or city property, according to Bob Baird, the city’s sanitation supervisor.

Baird explained that his crews will collect the signs when they come across them during the course of their daily work. Workers will take the signs to the public works garage and hold them for 30 days. If their owners don’t show up to claim them during that period, the signs will be destroyed.

They can create an issue, Baird explained, especially in areas that see a high volume of traffic, citing as an example signs that had to be removed last week from the intersection of Lovers Lane and Coal Hill Road, where a line-of-sight issue also was in play.

We understand that business owners always are looking for ways to promote their companies, and, certainly, signs placed along the road can attract a lot of attention. But we also understand the concerns Villamagna and Baird have from the legal, aesthetic and safety standpoints.

And that’s where Steubenville’s problems with signs differ from Emmerson’s song, which delivered commentary about a growing number of restrictions being placed on society, changes that were being conveyed through signs. But they are concerns none the less.

As long as enforcement is done in a fair and consistent manner, there is no reason why the city should not continue to take steps necessary to keep its right-of-way clear.


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