City Codes on Campaign to Clean Up Signs

Friday, September 11, 2009
Some of the signs picked up by the Lewisburg Codes Department in the past few weeks for being illegally placed around Lewisburg.

The proliferation of signs -- yard sale signs, consignment sale signs, small commercial signs -- popping up around Lewisburg has gotten the attention of the Lewisburg Codes Department, Mayor Barbara Woods and the Lewisburg City Council.

Signs are an important means of advertisement, but they can also be a nuisance on the scale of litter and a violation of Lewisburg municipal code. The Lewisburg municipal codes states: "It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation or association to erect, or keep within the city, any sign as defined without first obtaining a sign permit from the city's codes enforcement officer and paying the permit fee required..."

The only exceptions to this portion of the code are government signs, historical markers and real estate signs. Real estate signs, however, must be removed within 48 hours of the sale or auction advertised on the sign.

"We have seen more and more illegal signs showing up around town," said Lewisburg Codes Enforcement Officer Greg Lowe. "Traditionally, the codes office has simply picked up the signs and discarded them; but the problem has gotten to the point where further action is going to be taken, according to the penalties outlined in the code."

Penalties for placing illegal signs in the city limits of Lewisburg include a citation to city court and a fine determined by the judge.

"Yard sale signs appear to be the worst offenders but there are businesses and events that are placing illegal signs along public rights-of-way and on utility poles in violation of the sign ordinance," Lowe said. "The easiest way for people to stay in compliance with the sign ordinance and avoid city court is to see me first before putting out any sign in Lewisburg."

Yard sale signs in particular are being placed illegally because too few people understand the policy on such signs as outlined in the code, according to Lowe. People having a yard sale in the city limits of Lewisburg must first obtain a yard sale permit, at no cost; and then, the person or persons conducting the yard sale are allowed only four yard sale signs -- two on the site of the yard sale and two directional signs located only on personal property with permission from the property owners.

"Yard sale signs cannot be placed on road signs, utility poles and are absolutely prohibited on the square," Lowe said. "The only signs allowed to be placed on the square are those placed in the median sign holders and only after a permit to place signs there is obtained from the Lewisburg Police Department."

Signs are also becoming a problem in the median rights-of-way at major intersections around Lewisburg such as the Nashville and Fayetteville Highway intersections with Ellington Bypass. These areas are controlled by the state of Tennessee Department of Transportation and prohibit signs from being erected in those areas, as does Lewisburg code.

"We are trying to get this message out before citing people into city court for these illegal sign violations," Lowe said. "But, the City of Lewisburg will be citing violators into court from this point forward, as well as taking down any and all illegal signs discovered."

The codes department will also be enforcing the sign ordinance as it pertains to retail and other commercial properties around Lewisburg. A portion of the sign ordinance limits the number of signs for a retail or commercial business at six.

"Most retail and commercial business owners around town comply with the sign ordinance, but I have spotted a few with more signs up than they should have and other signs erected without first obtaining a sign permit," Lowe said. "The City of Lewisburg is not trying to be anti-business by enforcing this ordinance so strongly. We are simply trying to keep Lewisburg a cleaner, more attractive city for residents and visitors alike."

If you have any questions about the sign ordinance or signs around Lewisburg, contact Greg Lowe at (931) 359-1544 or log onto, scroll down to Lewisburg City Codes and click, then click on the pdf link to Title 14 -- Zoning and Land Use Control listed under the Lewisburg Municipal Codes heading.