Less than two days after receiving intense negative publicity on its attempt to ban political signage from a private residence, Charlottesville City Hall has reversed course and withdrawn an issued citation.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith, of Rose Hill Drive, were threatened by Zoning Administrator, Read Brodhead, with “legal proceedings” and fines of up to $5,000 if they did not remove the disputed sign from their property. The story was first reported by The Schilling Show Blog and later picked up by Newsplex. In addition, the Rutherford Institute, a nationally renowned civil liberties organization, was preparing a First-Amendment-based legal defense of the Smith’s right to free expression.

The city, unable to justify selective enforcement of its own sign ordinance, relented by placing an unstamped letter of retraction (text copied below) in the Smith’s mailbox after normal mail-delivery hours.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Smith for standing up against unjust government persecution, and shame on Zoning Administrator Brodhead and his department for their abuse of regulatory power.

October 4, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Charlottesville VA

Re: Rose Hill Drive

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I have reversed my decision on the legality of the sign that is in excess of one (1) square foot, located on your property. After further reviewing the sign ordinance, it is my belief that the code section referred to is erroneous and thus inapplicable to your sign. You may keep your sign and still be in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.

I apologize for any inconvenience that my earlier letter may have caused you.



Read Brodhead
Zoning Administrator

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Rob Schilling is founder of the multi-award-winning Schilling Show Blog and News, proprietor of Schilling Show Media; host of both the Schilling Show Unleashed Podcast and WINA's The Schilling Show heard weekdays at noon; husband; father; worship leader, Christian recording artist and Community Watchdog.


  1. Victory for Mr. & Mrs. Smith!? I feel bad for all of the neighbors that have to look at this ugly sign day in and day out. Can’t there be a happy middle: regulations without squashing free speach?

  2. Well, the sign may be ugly but who gave the person the right yesterday evening after the sun when down to come into my yard? What gave the that person the right to made the sign even uglier by removing part of the letter S in the word Worship? By removing part of the letter I in word Faith? If the this person wants to rake about ugly — what about the downtown mall, the empty buildings spread throughout Charlottesville. What about the nasty sidewalks or storm drains that needs repairing? The list is a very long one that City needs to do. Instead it is easier to rag on someone else who doesn’t fit into their way of thinking. Please excuse us ( the ones of us who don’t fit the City way of thinking) for taking up valuable space.

  3. It is an election year and making the Smiths remove the sign might cause a particular political party to lose votes.

  4. Is there evidence that the unstamped letter was placed inside the mailbox? Isn’t that illegal? I know putting newspapers or flyers inside a mailbox is…perhaps the Postmaster of C’vill needs to send a notice of violation to the City and issue a warning. If they want to use the mailbox, spend the .44 cents like the rest of us.

    Best wishes and THANK YOU to the Smiths.


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