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Localities working to control the proliferation of temporary roadside signs.
YOU SEE them at intersections or in medians here and there, little eyesores that seem as ubiquitous as the cigarette butts littering the gutter. They are the little signs urging you to explore a housing development nearby, try out a new nail salon, or sell your junked car. Many of them are there day after day, weathered by the changing seasons. Is that allowed?
No, it's not, and area localities are working to enforce the rules.
But that has been a problem when these signs are placed along state-maintained roads, or Virginia Department of Transportation rights of way. Whose responsibility are they? Thanks to the efforts of local governments, maybe this is a problem on its way to being solved.
No matter what your opinion of, say, the aesthetics of State Route 3 in Spotsylvania, these haphazardly placed signs that often remain in place forever are not exactly eye candy. They are, in fact, just another form of litter.
Now, Spotsylvania officials are doing what Stafford did several years ago, establishing an agreement with state highway officials about assuming enforcement of these roadside advertising rules.
The rules state that signs are not ever allowed in the medians. However, signs on the side of the road that do not have a permit are granted a 72-hour grace period from noon Friday to noon Monday for events held over the weekend. Otherwise, the signs are not supposed to be there and are to be removed by whoever put them there.
The removal part is what people don't get around to, and what proves difficult and time-consuming to enforce.
In Stafford, R-Board crews take up the signs as they periodically collect roadside litter. County officials say they are working on a public information campaign so people know that placing signs in the right of way without a permit is a violation with legal repercussions.
Spotsylvania officials are waiting for VDOT officials to sign off on their new enforcement agreement, giving the county explicit authority to collect signs in the state right of way.
Fredericksburg officials are working on legislation of their own, spurred primarily by the proliferation of political signs that arrive early in the campaign season and hang around far too long after.
As the localities pursue these efforts, perhaps our region's beauty and charm will be just a little less obstructed.