In the introductory column of “The Other Side,” I introduced yard signs as this week’s topic by equating them to either flowers or weeds in the garden. While feedback reflected a unified desire that signs be removed after an event, there was little concern about the signs themself.
The response seems to be in line with our changing times. Over a couple decades, our community has become more reliant on supplemental income, and the signs reflect that shift. Back in the day, people worked a single job and if they needed more income, they took on a second. Today, it’s common for households to have multiple streams of income including yard sales, seasonal businesses, or home occupations. Gone is the day when yard sales were merely a way of cleaning out the garage each Spring.
At this point, Marshfield city code does not reflect this shift. The code (as verified by the city) shows that in one or two-family residential areas, these signs are only allowed twice a year for two days each time, and only on the premise of the event. Enforcing this code without bias would require a system for monitoring each sign, when it was placed, and by whom. Imagine the tax dollars true enforcement would cost, and in the end, virtually every sign we see today would be removed.
That could be one reason a quick drive through town on a Friday night will reveal the city apparently understands and agrees with the community’s ambivalence and matches it with their own by not removing the signs. On this topic, the city will always end up on the losing side. If they were to enforce the law without bias, they would be walking in misstep to a community who sees the signs as flowers in the garden and food on their table. Conversely, their lack of enforcement brings the appearance of a lack of concern to those who see the signs as ugly weeds needing to be remove so a pretty garden is presented to passers-by.
“So, there you are,” the perfect topic for “The Other Side.” The community is going one direction, the city appears in step, but that pesky little law is getting in the way. If only we could do something about that law. Oh wait, Planning & Zoning came to the rescue with a change to the sign code in 2019, but it has yet to be presented to the Board of Aldermen for adoption. The new code offers clarity and is more in sync with community needs. Perhaps it will be reviewed soon.
Either way, “The Other Side” is moving on to the domestic animal kingdom. This week’s question is, “How do you feel about Pit Bulls in the city?
Please send your polite comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with “The other Side” in the subject line, or comment on “The Other Side” facebook post on the Marshfield Mail facebook page next week.