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Hubbard County to revise campaign sign rules

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News Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A standard sheet of plywood is 4 feet by 8 feet.

So, in order to save lumber, Hubbard County commissioners will hold a public hearing May 19 to revamp the county's campaign signs law.

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It's likely unconstitutional, advised Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne.

"The primary intent of the ordinance is to regulate signs of a commercial nature," said a memo drafted by assistant Hubbard County Attorney Michael Plante for the board to review.

And with the Minnesota Legislature also moving the primary election to Aug. 10, certain timelines in the old ordinance have become obsolete.

"We need to fix the damn thing and get it over with," said board chair Lyle Robinson when Dearstyne suggested amending the political portion of the sign ordinance after the election.

The new ordinance will not specify a date campaign signs can go up in case the primary is shifted again. It will simply say that campaign signs can go up 45 days before the primary whenever it's held and 90 days before the general election.

But the portion of the ordinance that will save lumber has to do with campaign poster size. Currently all political signs cannot be larger than 25 square feet. That will be amended to 32 square feet to accommodate those sheets of plywood.

You can do the math.

"Standard lumber" was the reason given.

"You can't waste plywood," said commissioner Dick Devine.

"When the campaign's done you can use it for deer stands or sheeting the inside of your shop," suggested commissioner Cal Johannsen.

Plante said because the state Legislature is tinkering with campaign laws, any new ordinance "will be a stopgap until that state law is changed."

The commissioners intend to have the revised ordinance comport with state law.

Under the new ordinance, certain aspects will not change. Signs cannot:

n Resemble a railroad or traffic sign;

n Interferes with visibility or the effectiveness of a traffic sign;

n Make noise, is unsafe or constitutes a hazard;

n Display obscene or offensive matter;

n Be within a public right-of-way or easement;

n May not, if it's an illuminated sign, shine on a roadway or residence.

Campaign talk permeated the county board meeting Wednesday. Filings for office begin May 18 and end at the close of business June 1.

"This is the time leadership is needed to take us to the next level," said Sheriff Frank Homer, who is running for the seat he was appointed to fill one year ago.

Several candidates have been mentioned who may be interested in running for county board positions.

Commissioners from Districts 1, 3 and 5, Don Carlson, Greg Larson and Cal Johannsen, said they would all run for re-election.

Dearstyne is also up for election. Perham attorney Nathaniel Welte acknowledged he has been approached by members of the Park Rapids "legal community" to enter the race, but has not decided if he will.

"I haven't given it any further thought than just talk," Welte said. "I'm flattered they think I should run but I haven't made any determination along those lines at all." Welte's law firm also has offices in New York Mills and Park Rapids.

The public hearing for the campaign sign amendments is at 12:30 p.m. in the boardroom.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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