Lexington County considers limits on campaign signs

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 26, 2012 

FILE PHOTOS: Campaign signs in Lexington County, 2010

  • Attracting new jobs A bond debt plan that will be used mainly to expand and develop sites to lure major employers won initial approval Tuesday from Lexington County Council. But the $17 million package may be scaled back if a partnership with Batesburg-Leesville to add roads and sewers to an area in the town fall through, some council members said. “I don’t see that as an imminent need,” councilman Jim Kinard of Swansea said of including the tract in the rural western edge of the county in the package. If adopted, the plan would add $8 a year to the property tax bill of a $100,000 home as soon as next year. Most of the improvements are slated for a new 125-acre technology park in Chapin and expansion of an industrial area near Cayce.

Complaints about clutter led Lexington County Council to agree Tuesday to look at limits on campaign signs along roads.

The increasing proliferation of signs since spring “has really brought it home” that restrictions are necessary on the length of time those messages stay up, councilman Jim Kinard said.

The proposal would prevent signs from going up until 60 days before an election and would require them being removed 14 days after the vote.

Currently, the only county requirement is that signs be taken down seven days after a vote.

And that is widely ignored by candidates “not willing to do what’s right,” councilman Johnny Jeffcoat said.

Candidates are complaining a week is too short to get the job done, other council members said.

Kinard promoted limits on the length of time signs may be up as a reduction of litter and scenic interference, insisting he isn’t trying to inhibit council challengers.

Other council members agree the problem is worsening, especially since recent changes mean elections every fall for county or municipal posts.

Council members will form a panel with leaders of the 14 municipalities after the Nov. 6 ballot to develop uniform controls that might apply also to temporary commercial signs.

Removal of signs put up without permission or too close to roads varies considerably and is a time-consuming job for police busy with other things, he said.

Finding a countywide approach may be difficult but makes the best sense, some council members said.

“We need to find some common ground,” councilwoman Debbie Summers of Springdale said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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