Signs in right-of-ways: The "uglification" of our county

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 07:47 AM

SWEEP (Solid Waste Environmental and Education Panel) has been working to eliminate the illegal business signs that are placed along the Right of Ways of our roads here in Rutherford County.

They are numerous, are a distraction to drivers, hide our lovely scenery, and make our roads look ugly in a cheesy kind of way.

These “business” signs are illegal since signs not authorized by the North Carolina Department Of Transportation are prohibited inside the Right of Way of state-maintained public roads.

This Right of Way is usually 30 feet from the center line of the road. Signs are also NOT allowed on utility or telephone poles. Signs may be placed on personal property with the property owner’s permission, (outside of the 30 foot right of way). 

THE LAW: (regarding business signs)

North Carolina General Statue 136­ 32 states:  General Statute 136-32 is part the DOT authorizing section of state law and specifically states:  “Signs other than official signs are prohibited. No unauthorized person shall erect or maintain upon any highway any warn­ing or direction sign, marker, signal or light or imitation of any official sign, marker, signal or light erected under the provisions of G.S. 136-30, except in cases of emergency. No person shall erect or maintain upon any highway any traffic or highway sign or signal bearing thereon any commercial advertising.” Violation of the statute is considered a Class I misdemeanor.  

It becomes problematic when businesses place illegal signs in the Right of Ways of our roads. The DOT mowers do not have the time (or the authority) to get off their machines and pick up the sign, mow and then replace the sign.

So they either mow over the signs creating a mangled mess and litter, or they mow around the signs leaving grass and weeds to grow into an unsightly mess. 


CAMPAIGN SIGNS are a specific exception to the law. Campaign signs have the following guidelines:



SESSION 2011      

SESSION LAW 2011-408


“Under the new state law, signs may be posted in the state right of way "during the period beginning on the 30th day before the beginning date of ‘one-stop' early voting... and ending on the 10th day after the primary or Election Day."


SWEEP wants to maintain the beauty of our County by having these illegal business signs removed.

DOT workers will be doing a “sweep” of the County after the election to remove any remaining election signs as well as the illegal business signs.

If you know of any locations of an illegal business signs (including ones posted on trees), please email with the name on the sign and its location. SWEEP will then pass this information along to DOT so that the workers can remove the signs.

SWEEP asks that any businesses with signs currently around Rutherford County remove them as soon as possible. We assume that all politicians will have their signs removed by the deadline.

If you see a political sign after the 10 day period, we are sure the politician would appreciate a call to let him or her know that a sign was missed in the collection process.

Our county needs all of the tourism dollars that we can get and these illegal “business” signs make our beautiful roadsides unattractive, not just to tourists, but to businesses looking to locate here.  

We are a beautiful county, let's not "uglify" it with a proliferation of illegal signs along our roadways.