There are a number of news stories that hit the airwaves in the past 24 hours dealing with the US Supreme Court decision in Reed v Town of Gilbert (Arizona). The case involves a church’s challenge to a local sign by-law. At question appears to be the placement of signs within the public right-of-way. This case may have ramifications for the Dennis Sign Code, and will require a close scrutiny of both the case and our code.
A part of this media attention is probably based upon the David v. Goliath nature of the case. A small church, with no formal meeting place takes on a town and wins. Of the links I have posted below, the last one regarding silly laws is probably most informative.
While our sign code was developed to try to minimize sign clutter and promote public safety, we still need to take a close look at the code in comparison to this court case. The broad brush that the media is suggesting was used by the majority of the Supreme Court might be quite problematic. However, the entire aspect of avoiding content regulation was a central focus of the Zoning Board’s discussion when crafting the present sign code. And, many of the aspects discussed in the last of the three links below are not a part of our regulation of signs.
The Building Commissioner and I have discussed this, we believe we pass the test. But a review is in order.