Political sign controversy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Political sign controversy

WAUSAU (WAOW) -

A Wausau businessman is refusing to take his political signs down after the city told him to do it. But, looking into the political sign ordinance and found there are no guidelines for businesses.

For John Fischer, all political signs are welcome on his property.

"Candidates trying to get their name out whether or not we agree or disagree with them we respect them for running for office," Fischer said.

But, last week Fischer says the city told him to take them down. 

"If you look in the residential code it says you can have signs up during political season," Fischer explained. "But, if you look in commercial code political signs are not addressed anywhere."

According to Wausau city ordinance, political signs are not allowed on public property, in a spot where they block traffic, or in the right of way.

"It's for safety, that's the main key," Wausau City Inspector Bill Hebert said.

But, the ordinance doesn't clearly define if signs are allowed at a place of business. That's why city leaders say, right now, they'll allow it.

"We're constantly looking at our ordinances to make sure they are in line with the constitution and other case law that's happened throughout the year," Hebert said.

In residential neighborhoods the law is clear. Political signs must be placed behind the sidewalk or 12 feet from the road.

"If you don't have a sidewalk a good indicator is the divot in your driveway, closest to the house," Hebert explained.

But, all the uncertainty leaves some, like Fischer, confused. That's why he says he will fight for a change.

"I'm going to bring it up at public input because it is important," Fischer said.

And for now, Fischer says he will keep his signs up.

"Until I get a written order telling me I have to take them down."

City leaders say if they see signs in violation they will ask the homeowner or the business owner to remove them. If they aren't they will be taken to the Department of Public Works where they can be picked up and properly placed.

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