In violation of the city’s own ordinance, a Charlottesville homeowner has been threatened by local government for displaying a political sign in his yard.
On September 23, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, of Rose Hill Drive, were issued a Notice of Violation / Order of Correction by Zoning Administrator, Read Brodhead. The transgression? Erecting a sign in their yard, which reads: “Worship your faith, not your politics.”
Brodhead cites, in his notice, Zoning Ordinance Section 34-1047(1): “signs within residential zones shall not be greater than one (1) square foot.” The letter continues by threatening the Smiths with “legal proceedings” and “civil penalties” of up to $5,000 if they do not take “corrective action” (i.e. remove the sign).
Unreferenced by the Zoning Administrator is Section 34-1027(11), which allows “political signs” to be displayed in all districts without obtaining a permit.
Currently and recently, scores of Charlottesville neighborhood homes have donned signs bearing political and quasi-political messages including:
- End this War
- Save McIntire Park
- Support our Troops
- Wage Peace
- Attack Iraq, NO!
- Build the Parkway
Each of these exceeded code limitations for size, and most were up for months—if not years—without citation from government zoning administrators.
In past weeks, City employees have made multiple surveillance visits to the Smith residence in order to monitor the state of this infraction. But during this course, Brodhead, et al somehow managed to overlook a badly decomposed, city-owned curb and storm drain on the same Rose Hill property (photos below). These important infrastructure deficiencies previously have been brought to the city’s attention, but to date, there has been no remedial action taken or maintenance scheduled.
Read Brodhead and his City Hall co-conspirators unnecessarily have created a conundrum in deciding that this particular sign doesn’t qualify for Charlottesville’s vague “political sign” exemption. While the sign police may end up reversing course in this instance, someday soon, the city may be facing “legal proceedings” of its own.