DOT warns make sure election signs not on public right-of-wayBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Seeing a plethora of political signs along the roadway is par for the course during election season, but the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to remind everyone that those signs should never be placed on the public right-of-way.
Placing anything on the public right-of-way that hasn’t been approved by either the GDOT or the local government is illegal.
“In the midst of the political season, Georgia DOT would like to clarify the laws that deal with signs along state routes and interstates,” said GDOT District Engineer David Millen. “As part of our routine maintenance work, the department will remove any and all signs from our right-of-way. Right-of-way is defined as the strip of land over which facilities such as highways, railroads, or power lines are built and maintained.”
Violating state law regarding signs in the right-of-way is a misdemeanor, though prosecutions for violations are rare.
“Rights-of-way differs from road to road,” said Patricia Palmer, Coweta’s public affairs director. “But a good rule of thumb is to place any signs behind the line created by public utilities, like a fire hydrant or telephone pole,” Palmer said.
If anyone has questions about where the right-of-way is, “you can call the Coweta County Road Department and ask for the right-of-way measurement for a specific road,” Palmer said.
You can reach the road department at 770-253-0794.
If DOT crews remove signs, they will be held for 30 days, according to Kimberly Larson of GDOT regional office, based in Thomaston. If not picked up, they will then be destroyed.
“To prevent the loss of signs, do not place them within the right-of-way,” Larson said.
Coweta County Code Enforcement will also remove signs that are clearly in the right-of-way.
“We haven’t had a lot of complaints lately” about signs, Palmer said. The county’s code enforcement officer, Tim Shelnutt, has been pretty busy lately dealing with foreclosed homes and other code enforcement related calls, she said.
However, “he definitely does stop and pick up signs if there are a lot on the right-of-way,” or if he receives a complaint from a resident, Palmer said.
“As far as a matter of course, going out and pulling signs, it depends on what else he has going,” she said.
“The calls from citizens are going to come first, always,” Palmer said. “So if a citizen calls and complains about that he is going to take a look at it.”
You can reach Coweta County Code Enforcement at 770-254-2669.