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York County community opts against enforcing time limits on campaign signs

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SHREWSBURY TWP., Pa. - Residents with campaign signs in their yards in this York County community will not be subject to a fine, even though the current law on the books says it is too early for the signs.

Shrewsbury Township supervisors recently decided to stop enforcing the ordinance that says campaign signs can only be posted no more than 30 days before an election, after complaints that the ordinance violated the First Amendment right of free speech.

"Ours have been up for about three weeks now," Shane Harris said about the signs up in his yard, unaware that there was a local law in place on the matter. "To be honest, I just think that's a dumb law to have."

The township sent notices to around 30 households about the violations after receiving a formal written complaint about the signs being posted more than 30 days before the May 16th primary, according to township manager Todd Zeigler.

"We sent out violation notices, that generated calls from those that we sent the violations to telling us about other locations, and that of course kind of mushroomed and snowballed," he said.

Then the township received a formal written complaint about the constitutionality of the ordinance. The township's solicitor agreed, and last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to stop enforcement of the ordinance. It plans to amend the time restriction potion of the ordinance next month, Zeigler said.

After the meeting, those who received violation notices were sent another letter saying the ordinance would not be enforced.

"They generate a letter and send it out to a lot of people, all the candidates, and then a week later, they say 'Oopsie,' now you're allowed to put them up because the board said it's not enforceable," Earl Schuckman, a former township supervisor who received a violation notice, said. "It either is enforceable or it isn't."

The main races in Shrewsbury Township are for the Board of Supervisors and for district judge. Mostly signs for the judge race are visible in the township. A potential scenario that could have played out if the ordinance was still being enforced: those found guilty of violating the sign ordinance would have been subject to a $600 fine, possibly handed down by the judge who won the race after distributing the violating signs.

One of the district judge candidates, Lindy Sweeney, told FOX43 Monday her campaign signs did not go up until after the vote by Shrewsbury Township to stop enforcement of the ordinance.