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Business signs taken by city without notice

Photo courtesy of cityofalgonac. YouTube Local resident Joshua Pace, of Fast Pace Pest Control, spoke during the public comments section of the agenda at a June 4 meeting of the Algonac City Council.

Resident asks Algonac Council for explanation 

By Barb Pert Templeton

A recent meeting of the Algonac City Council had a resident speak out during the public comments section of the agenda asking why his business signs had been confiscated by a city employee without any notification.

At the June 4 meeting Joshua Pace, who noted that he was an employee of the small family- owned business, Fast Pace Pest Control, said he went to the city in April to ask for the rules regarding putting signs out about the business. He said he was told as long as they weren’t on city property it was okay to post them.

Soon his signs started disappearing; the one in his yard and others at other private property around the city. He said after that he went and bought tags so he could track the signs. 

A few days later he discovered the location of his signs was the city offices and so he went there and was told yes, they had his signs. Pace said he was told an employee named Joe Vernier (the city’s DPW Foreman) had taken them and it was because they were in the right-of-way which was illegal.

“I was not aware of this and I think it is completely unfair because I had no written warning, no phone call warning to my business or my personal line, nothing at all,” Pace said. “I think it’s completely unfair that someone went up to personal property on someone else’s property and picked it up and took it and I was not notified of the signs being taken, I had to track it with my own phone.” 

While city officials don’t normally respond to issues posed during public comments in this case, 

Councilman Michael Bembas asked City Manager Denice Gerstenberg if she would provide copies of the city ordinance related to signs to the council, especially with the election coming up. She said yes, in fact something was going to be going out to candidates regarding signs prior to the election and none are allowed to be in the city’s right-of-way. 

Photo courtesy of cityofalgonac.org
Algonac City Manager Denice Gerstenberg. 

“Is that a situation where the homeowner or whoever has the sign in the right-of-way is contacted before, as a city, we take the sign?” Councilwoman Dawn Davey asked.

Gerstenberg said no, there are no signs allowed in the right-of-way and the city doesn’t contact anyone they just go take the signs. She said an exception might be a sign for a company that just completed work on the property, it might be allowed to stay for a little while but nothing is allowed in the right-of-way.

Gerstenberg said, for example, no telephone pole signs are allowed in the city of Algonac. 

“Go into other communities and it looks trashy, they’ve got signs up and down on their telephone poles,” Gerstenberg said. “Telephone poles are located in the right-of-way.”

Bembas said it would likely be difficult to constantly try to notify everyone with an illegal sign and Davey agreed.

Gerstenberg added that if someone has their business out of their home it doesn’t mean they can advertise that continually in front of their house.

“If you live in a residential area, just because you have a business doesn’t mean you have a sign out front that can advertise it 24/7,” Gerstenberg said. 

Davey said she wasn’t aware of some of these rules so the city needs to get that information out to the public. She said elections are coming up and local landscape companies are out there now and those business owners may be unaware of the ordinance. 

Gerstenberg said she would take care of it. 

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