Ordinance targets signs on utility poles

Johnston Sun Rise ·

A new ordinance recently passed by the Johnston Town Council should bring down unwanted signs across town.

Approved during the Oct. 11 meeting, Ordinance 2016-14 would levy a $25 fine for placing a sign on any pole erected by a utility company with the permission from the town for the purpose of transmitting utility services.

“As I traveled through town, I see a number of utility poles that have advertisements on them, and other signs with multiple purposes. I believe it adds to the decay of our neighborhoods,” said Councilman Richard DelFino III, who introduced the measure. “Whether it’s someone hanging a sign up and not taking it down, or leaving behind whatever was used to tack up the signs, such as nails which become rusty and may become an issue for pedestrians, for me, it’s about improving neighborhoods.”

According to the ordinance, no sign shall be placed on a utility pole, except by the state or town, with the exception of a yard sale sign.

“I know that people like to have yard sales in town, and one of the thoughts I had when putting this in was carving out an exemption for a yard sale,” DelFino said. “What the exemption says is that, if you’re going to have a yard sale, you can advertise on the poles with the understanding that, after 48 hours from the conclusion of the yard sale, that sign and anything used to hang it be removed.”

Residential yard sale signs have size restrictions, and may not be larger than four square feet. Fines are not progressive, and DelFino thought the dollar amount levied for infractions was reasonable. Citations would be issued by the Johnston Police Department.

With political season in full swing, those signs have been noticed on other poles, such as stop signs and at crosswalks. DelFino stated that the town is aware, and that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation has been contacted for affected signs and poles in its jurisdiction. 1


This telephone pole on the corner of Bishop Hill Road and Beechnut Drive is a popular place for signs, as evidenced by the week old signs still hanging and the rusty nails left behind. (Sun Rise photo by Tim Forsberg)