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Lee activist protests T-SPLOST signs

Road-side sign on Ledo Road Friday urges motorists to vote in favor of T-SPLOST. (story by C. Fletcher) photo taken 7-27-12 (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Road-side sign on Ledo Road Friday urges motorists to vote in favor of T-SPLOST. (story by C. Fletcher) photo taken 7-27-12 (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

LEESBURG -- Tim Nelson, who announced Friday he has collected the required number of voter signatures and plans to run for the District 4 seat on the Lee County Commission as an independent candidate, will have no problems being recognized around the halls of government if he is elected.

He's introduced himself to a number of Lee government officials in recent days while protesting multi-message signs placed at strategic locations beside county roads as a means of gathering support for the regional special-purpose local-option transportation sales tax, or T-SPLOST, referendum on Tuesday's primary ballots.

Nelson said the signs, placed on U.S. Highway 19, U.S. Highway 82 and Ledo Road by Oxford Construction Co., violate the county's sign ordinance, and he's demanded that they be removed.

County officials, meanwhile, say the signs do not violate the sign ordinance and their political message is protected free speech.

"I am asking one final time for you to do your job," Nelson wrote in an email sent to Chief Marshal/Code Enforcement Officer Jim Wright Friday. "Your boss is in the wrong, and you know it. I will prosecute the case in Magistrate Court for you."

Nelson said the pro-T-SPLOST signs violate Section 70642 of the county's sign ordinance which says, "No sign structure shall be placed and/or maintained within the county except in conformity with this sign ordinance." He argued that the signs in question were placed without a proper permit, that messages on the signs change at 10-second intervals rather than the ordinance-prescribed 20 seconds and that multi-message sign requirements stipulate that the face of the message shall not exceed 50 percent of the total sign face area.

"Conformity is the issue," Nelson said. "These signs do not conform to the requirements of the county's sign ordinance."

Nelson said he first brought the signs to the attention of Wright, followed up with complaints to County Administrator Tony Massey, County Attorney Jimmy Skipper, District 4 County Commissioner Rick Muggridge, County Clerk Christi Dockery and Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander.

He was not satisfied with the responses of any of the officials.

"Mr. Skipper said the county couldn't regulate political signs, so I asked him if that meant I could put a multi-message sign up in my backyard and as long as one of the messages was political, it would be in compliance," Nelson said.

"I went to see Mr. Alexander and asked to see a memo on the sign ordinance, and he told me, 'I don't have time for you.' I went to the city clerk (Dockery) and asked the process for filing a complaint against a county employee. I've gotten nothing but a runaround."

Massey said Friday that Nelson's issue has less to do with the sign ordinance than it does with the message of the signs in question.

"If these were anti-T-SPLOST signs, we wouldn't be having this conversation," Massey said. "Mr. Nelson may not agree with our interpretation of the sign ordinance, but I think he mostly doesn't agree with the message on these signs.

"I believe he's basing his complaints on an earlier version of the sign ordinance, because the ordinance does not require a permit as he's suggested."

Nelson said he plans to take his complaints to the full Lee County Commission at its next meeting.

"I'm going to ask for an opportunity to speak at the next commission meeting, and I'm going to ask that A, B, C, D be reprimanded," he said. "And I'm going to ask them to take this matter to a judge. That's all I'm asking, that they let a judge decide if the signs are in compliance.

"If they refuse to do that, they're just proving that their sign ordinance is not worth the paper it's written on."

Comments

Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

I like our county commissioners and don't often agree with Tim Nelson. But he is right on this issue. The stupid sign ordinance which should never have been passed in the first place, has now come back to bite the hand that fed it. The signs break the law. Plain and simple. The commission should have respect for their own laws, or will have no credibility if they expect others to obey.

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veritasthorn 1 year, 8 months ago

Glad to see we're on the same side again, old friend.

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veritasthorn 1 year, 8 months ago

Carlton,

If you'll remember - the Board and county employees seem to have forgotten - Tim and I were protesting the sign ordinance when it was first being discussed. Indeed, I made it a central part of my second campaign for Leesburg City Council.

The signs are illegal. Period. District 4 would be well served by a man who can read the laws he is voting on, rather than someone who simply does what Ed Duffy tells him to do.

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formeralbanyresident 1 year, 8 months ago

I agree whole heartedly. If these signs were Anti-TSPLOST, there were not even be anything being said about them being up.

I am glad to see that someone that is PRO-TSPLOST has taken the opportunity to ask everyone to vote for this Referedndum. I know that I am.

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rightasrain 1 year, 8 months ago

This thinking is absolutely freakin stupid! Do you really think T-SPLOST funds will come back to the counties? Absolutely not; they are designed to build and expand the transportation infrastructure in and around Atlanta. I cancel your "yes" vote with my "NO" vote!

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G_Michael 1 year, 8 months ago

If these signs were Anti-TSPLOST, Code Enforcement would be doing their job with a ticket book and what ever it takes to have them re-moved.

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doingwhatisright 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh,oh...trouble in " our rednecks are better than your rednecks" Lee County?

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

Putting the ordinance aside, I dislike a company, Oxford in this case, asking the public to vote for a proposal that will clearly line its own pockets. But then perhaps these signs are no worse than the cards mailed out asking whether the recipient wanted to pay an extra 29 cents a gallon for gas or whether a property tax increase was wanted if the proposal were turned down.
It is unfortunate that those in the electorate who don't understand the issue may tip the scales to make it pass--and line the pockets of the Oxfords in the state.

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 8 months ago

Its just another case of too much power in the wrong hands, I scream again and again "VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS OUT" , when Muggridge told the citizens they were'nt allowed to speak at a meeting concerning their neighborhood, that a decision had already been made prior to the meeting, that very un-American comment did him in ( that was Duffys idea and Muggridge fell on the sword for him) . They all lie and don't mind doing it to your face either !! Again, VOTE'EM OUT ! ! !

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kingd00 1 year, 8 months ago

Politicians and firms who will be making money are staunch supporters for this TSLOST. I guess that's one reason I voted a big 10-NO. Don't we already pay taxes for our roads?

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veritasthorn 1 year, 8 months ago

I do believe many county workers and Commissioners in Lee County have already forgotten about this... the archives there provide video proof of exactly what happened at every Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting during the era the sign ordinance was being introduced, debated, and voted upon.

The videos specifically show both Tim and myself speaking out against this abomination SEVERAL times, and indeed one titled "Muggridge on Liberty and Government" has Muggridge himself on record saying why he believes the sign ordinance as written was necessary.

Apparently he feels it is necessary, but doesn't feel that it is necessary to enforce it?

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

Mudridge thinks he makes the rules but don't have to follow them. Get rid of the buffons with the big heads.

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MRM 1 year, 8 months ago

Laws and ordinances should apply equally to everyone. If the county can't enforce its own ordinance, the ordinance should be rescinded. Tim fought this battle when the ordinance was passed saying it would not be enforced equally. It has nothing to do with the message. It has to do with equal application and enforcement of the laws.

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iko 1 year, 8 months ago

Vote NO! They will squander this money and come back for more later!

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

I thought the thread was about the illegal signs. But since it has drifted to T-SPLOST, Please Vote NO to T-SPLOST.

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nofreeloader 1 year, 8 months ago

I suppose if the signs are illegal they will be removed by Wednesday. If Dingleberry thinks the oxford construction co will line their pockets from T-SPLOST. They might get a piece of the pie when the projects are bid on, last I knew Oxford is one of lee counties largest employers an that to might grow , thus creating new jobs. WOW that would mean less unemployment, Less people on entitlement programs. Creating revenue for other company's with cash paying customers,WOW creating more jobs because of increased sales.WOW that would mean more jobs too, Manufacturing will increase for goods.WOW that would be a awesome rippling effect for everyone. So , I hope code enforcement can get the signs down by Wednesday.

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iko 1 year, 8 months ago

So we're "creating" jobs by raising taxes? Go back to Kenya, Barack!

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ittybittyme 1 year, 8 months ago

Did not like the signs....and I voted NO to TSPLOST!!

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