Koos: Neighbor Signs May Violate Town Code | WGLT

Koos: Neighbor Signs May Violate Town Code

May 20, 2019

Normal Mayor Chris Koos said the town could be looking to revise its sign regulations because of those "Welcome Your Neighbor" signs that have popped up all over the Twin Cities.

Koos said a resident claims keeping the signs up permanently isn't legal based on the town's code, and the mayor said they might be right.

“Our sign code is unclear at best on those kinds of issues,” Koos conceded.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos says the town could be looking to revise its sign regulations because of the 'Welcome Your Neighbor' signs that have popped up all over the Twin Cities.
Credit Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Koos said the "neighbor" signs could be defined as an "issue of general public interest" in which case they can't be left up permanently.

The mayor said he believes a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling would back the signs as a reflection of free speech, but if that's the case the town's own language could be out of line.

“Does our sign code try to contradict what the Supreme Court said about ability to express opinion?” he asked.

Koos went to Facebook to solicit public feedback about the signs - sort of an online straw poll. He got hundreds of comments.

The mayor said he wasn't looking to turn it into a culture war online by debating the signs’ message.

“I was hopeful that it wouldn’t, but I’m not surprised that it is, in today’s world, it does become an issue,” Koos said. “It was unfortunate that sign was the one they went after.”

Koos said he will direct town staff in inspections and planning to review the language to ensure the signs are not in violation, but he's not sure when the matter will get resolved.

“It’s something that as staff has time to take a look at that, we will do that,” Koos explained. “It’s not a tier one priority for me.”

The signs in question state in Spanish, English and Arabic "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor." A Virginia church came up with the idea in 2015 and the signs spread throughout the country.

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