4:40 PM EDT, October 13, 2012
If you want to put a political sign in your front yard, make sure it's your front yard.
Sounds simple, but it's not quite if you're unaware of where your front yard stops and the city's property begins. The first rule of thumb is to look at your sidewalk. Anything between your house and the sidewalk is typically fine. But if you put a sign between the sidewalk and the street, that could be taken.
Residents on Carolina Avenue in South Roanoke were in for a rude awakening Friday morning when their signs were taken for being in the city's right of way. The right of way is typically defined as two or three feet off the road onto your property. This is where the city may have electrical wires that run adjacent to the roads.
The city says taking signs is in no way a reflection of any political affiliation or preference. They say it's all a safety issue. On some busy roads, they want people to be paying more attention to the road in front of them instead of the political signs that line them.
Residents we spoke with in South Roanoke say they think it's unfair for the city to take their signs regardless of where it is on "their" property. They also think the city is unfair and inconsistent in terms of how they enforce these rules.
The city tells us it's not just political signs they take. They also take real estate signs and landscaping advertisements year round. They say they take an average of 300 signs per month. A number that's definitely higher in this election cycle.
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