Last week (May 15) the Free Enterprise Forum blog featured a post titled “Albemarle Sign Police Look the Other Way?“. The post highlighted the large number of signs placed in the VDOT right of way Warning of the Seat Belt Enforcement Area.
Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker read the post and asked County Attorney Larry Davis for his opinion of the situation.
“The County’s agreement with VDOT is limited by Virginia Code § 33.1-375.1(D) to only allow the County to remove advertisements, defined as: any sign “intended to invite or to draw the attention or to solicit the patronage or support of the public to any goods, merchandise, real or personal property, business, services, entertainment, or amusement manufactured, produced, bought, sold, conducted, furnished, or dealt in by any person.” (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+33.1-351) The County, under the agreement with VDOT, cannot remove non-commercial signs. These warning signs fall in the non-commercial sign category.
VDOT’s sign-removal authority is more expansive than the County’s. Virginia Code § 33.1-375 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+33.1-375)addresses signs, advertisements and advertising structures. Under this section VDOT can remove any sign that it has not issued a permit to be in its right of way.
I am informed by Chief Miller that these warning signs were actually put up by our police department with the permission of VDOT. The signs were obtained from the State as part of the enforcement campaign and are being used by many participating localities. Because of the blog and other feedback, the signs have now been removed by the police department.” – Larry Davis, Albemarle County Attorney
The Free Enterprise Forum sincerely appreciates Supervisor Rooker looking into this issue and agrees the final resolution having the police remove the signs they put up was the proper action.
We are concerned that The Albemarle County Police, with permission from VDOT, thought this was a good idea at all. Albemarle County spent over half a year working with VDOT on their sign enforcement strategy.
We agree that it is important to buckle up this holiday weekend, we also think County Police have better things to do with their time than post signs in the right of way. While it appears the signs were legal, that does not make it right.
Everyone makes mistakes, kudos to Chief Miller for pulling the signs.