Letter to the Editor: The Heart of the Political Sign Issue

This Woodbury resident urges his neighbors to remove the rhetoric when it comes to political sign regulation.


To the Editor:

There has been a great deal of rhetoric, both verbal and written, regarding Woodbury's political sign regulation. Let's move all of the acrimony, finger pointing, anger and politicizing off the table; and let's look at the heart of the issue.

Freedom of speech is a guarantee under the First Amendment of our Constitution. Nevertheless, freedom of speech has its limitations and restrictions. These limitations and restrictions are well documented and easily ascertainable.

When legal actions are brought to challenge a municipality's regulation and the basis of challenge is "freedom of speech", the courts, both state courts as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, look for two criteria: (i) does the regulation restrict or limit what an individual can say or is it "content neutral"; and (ii) does the regulation discriminate (all signs can be 5 x 6, but political signs must be 3 x 4).

The town attorney has proposed the following amendment of the current political sign regulation:

"Political Signs: One or more signs, the total aggregate amount of signage per property not to exceed the greater of (i) 12 square feet or (ii) the maximum aggregate amount of signage which would be allowed on the property under the regulations applicable to the district in which the property is located."

The proposed amendment meets both criteria: (i) it is "content neutral" and does not restrict or limit freedom of speech and (ii) it does not discriminate since it allows political signs, in a particular district, to be the same size as any other sign which is allowed in that particular district.

Speak or write to the members of Woodbury's Zoning Commission.  Encourage them to adopt the proposed amendment.

Richard C. Snider, Woodbury

joe_m September 08, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Type or size restrictions do impact free speech. Speech, being free, means just that, free and not encumbered or restricted by laws or regulations. We have a right to publish and a provision of "NO LAW" shall ever be passed restricting free speech. "You" do not determine how "I" express my free speech rights. I guess no matter how many times we discuss "rights", someone will find a way to try and limit those rights.
Sean M September 08, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Richard You really need to work on your civility. I would not have to repeat facts if you and your buddies would actually read them all. Martin Overton is the biggest problem Woodbury faces. He wrote these proposed regulation changes that include this new version of 7.5.10.I that you refer back to. Had he not done the whole process behind the backs of the rest of the commission, this would not be an issue. The town attorney said get rid of 7.5.10.I. Please submit to the commission in writing what you propose be replaced. 7.5.9 is not up for debate. I have not thought about it and would want to read any proposal on repealing or modifying it. There are clearly activities that can be done with signs that disrupt the residential neighborhood they are in. You gave me an example from Long Island and Christmas lights. I would have a problem with that. What Zoning could do? We would have to deal with legal. You clearly want to waste Woodbury's money because you either have not read the legal opinions or do not care. I do not have a problem with Democrats in general, just ones like your buddies. You guys make up stuff, misrepresent the facts, and waste the time of people attempting to better the town. I would like to spend my limited time seeing what can be done to fill empty commercial space in town. People stop me regularly and thank me for doing what I do.
Sean M September 08, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Rule of law. You must have heard that once or twice in your 39 years as an attorney. Free speech is a right. As the attorney stated in his information to the commission, there must be a substantial state interest to regulate a right such as free speech. But that has never stopped liberals like yourself. How many times have liberal groups demanded silencing talk radio hosts they disagree with? The list is lengthy. I think you need a new hobby besides spreading propaganda on Patch. Grandkids? Hunting? Chruch? Maybe even start a business???
martin September 28, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Sean, You wrote: "Martin Overton is the biggest problem Woodbury faces. He wrote these proposed regulation changes that include this new version of 7.5.10.I that you refer back to." You are wrong (on both counts). Richard is correct: the attorney recommmnded that the WZC adopt that language he drafted, and we did, in the draft regulation amendments. Unfortunately, that's what the WZC rejected when it voted down all the proposed new reg's, (including those related to the Aquifer and the mandatory statutorty changes, required by law) thereby denying the commission the opportunity to debate the issue after all public comment was received at the hearings.
Sean M September 28, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Dear Martin Overton, Having a discussion with a fellow commissioner outside a zoning meeting is a huge potential legal liability with violating FOI laws. Please cease the practice immediately.


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