Man told to yank sign will seek injunction Lawyer: Action violates constitutional rights

From the Towson Times:

Man told to yank sign will seek injunction

Lawyer: Action violates constitutional rights

By Bryan P. Sears

The lawyer for a Towson man who was ordered by the county to remove his campaign yard sign says they will take the case to federal court this week.

Michael Pappas, the Towson attorney for Steve Kolbe, told the Towson Times that Kolbe intends to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore as early as Wednesday, May 26, seeking an injunction against the county to prevent officials from enforcing a county zoning law that restricts the size of signs on residential property.

Pappas said his client made the decision after another attorney, who had been acting as an intermediary between Kolbe and the county, informed Pappas that the county was going to continue to enforce the law.

“They’re going to enforce the sign regulations against Mr. Kolbe and anyone else,” Pappas said, adding that he had not personally had any contact with county officials.

County law prohibits signs larger than 8 square feet — and no more than 8 feet high — on an improved residential lot, and limits signs on commercial lots to 50 square feet.

Also, county law states that campaign signs may be placed on private property only with the express consent of the property owner, and may not be placed in the public right-of-way, or in a location that blocks the ability of drivers to see traffic or pedestrians.

Last week, county code enforcement officials, acting on an anonymous complaint, ordered Kolbe to remove his 32-square foot campaign sign for gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich from the front yard of Kolbe’s home in the 1200 block of Dulaney Valley Road.

Failure to comply would subject Kolbe to a $200 per day fine or 90 days in jail, or both.

Kolbe removed the sign but said he believed the corrective notice was politically motivated.

Pappas said he plans to file a lawsuit next week claiming Kolbe’s constitutional rights under the 1st and 14th amendments have been violated. Pappas said Kolbe may also allege that the county violated his civil rights and the Voting Rights Act.

Kolbe said May 20 that he hoped an intermediary had worked out a deal in which the county would stop enforcing the law for the rest of the 2010 election year, and let the next County Council and county executive revise the law.

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