Code enforcement officials from a suburban Philadelphia town with just over 23,000 residents are cracking down on locals who showcase any political signage on their yards, and Your Content has learned they’ve threatened to ‘impound’ two political campaign signs — one in support of President Trump and the second rooting for Congressional hopeful Dasha Pruett.
Documents obtained by Your Content reveal officials are using September 11 as a distraction while they haul away campaign signage … from PRIVATE property including homes and businesses.
Strangely, the town is said to be predominantly Republican, boasting a full Republican Board of Commissioners.
The township issued a written notice to a residence informing them that they ‘are in violation of a local ordinance’ forbidding political signage until 30-days prior to election day.
“On September 1, 2020 your property was inspected by a Code Enforcement Officer and found to be maintained in violation of Marple Township Zoning,” the notice reads.
“Please abate the condition(s) listed below within 10 days of the date of this notice.”
Coincidentally, the sign heist date falls on Sept. 11, according to the letter.
“[This] could result in the initiation of legal action by the Code Enforcement Department.”
What’s more, the low-blow letter says if the homeowner doesn’t adhere to the demands within ten days, officials will come and ‘impound the sign’ and charge the homeowners for the labor.
“All political signs shall be erected no earlier than 30 days prior to the election in question and shall be removed within two days after election day,” a highlighted portion of the demand notice reads.
“Any political sign erected in violation of these regulations shall be removed and impounded by the Township if such violation(s) is not corrected within 48 hours after issuing a notice to correct such signs.”
The demanding notice goes on to claim that pursuant to local ordinances, the resident will foot the bill for their daring sign heist.
“A reasonable service charge, as established by the Township, shall be levied to cover the cost of removing and impounding such signs.”
The letter is in reference to a Trump 2020 and Dasha Pruett for Congress signage, which is located on private property.
Marple Township is governed by a Board of Commissioners made up of representatives from each of the township’s wards which meets for regular sessions. The current commissioners are Joseph Rufo (R-1), Jan Ceton (R-2), Robert Fortebouno (R-3), John Lucas (R-4), John Longacre (R-5), Michael Molinaro (R-6), and Daniel Leefson (R-7).
Rufo currently serves as the board’s president.
Interestingly, a similar stunt was shut down during the 1999 election when United States Federal Senior Judge Peter Jo Messitt wouldn’t allow it.
“The problem with these decisions is they fail to consider when the post-election period ends and the next pre-election period begins,” Judge Messitt ruled in the case of Curry vs. Prince George’s County on Jan. 26, 1999.
Wayne Curry, a successful candidate for County Executive of the County, along with Stella Grooms and Melvin V. Walker, Jr., private homeowners in the county, challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance.
In a 1999 federal filing, the homeowners asked for injunctive and declaratory relief on the grounds that the ordinance violated their right to free speech.
Judge Messitt sided with the homeowners and candidate — ruling the ordinance ‘on its face’ unconstitutionally impinged upon their First Amendment rights.
“The Court holds that on its face the ordinance, insofar as it imposes durational limitations on the posting of political campaign signs by individuals at their private residences, unconstitutionally impinges upon their First Amendment rights.
“Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and deny that of Defendant.”
Attempts for comment made by Your Content to Marple Township Code Enforcement were unsuccessful.