County will not force sign removal |

County will not force sign removal

In yet another shift, Nevada County said Friday it won’t force residents to take down NH 2020 signs, instead asking they do it voluntarily. That’s the word for now, but it could change again as early as Monday.

In the latest edict concerning the red, black and white signs stating “No on NH 2020” and “Stop NH 2020,” the county’s administrative office Friday afternoon released a press release concerning its policy on signs protesting the long-term resource protection program, Natural Heritage 2020.

“The county has determined the NH2020 signs are campaign-related in nature and therefore should be removed within a certain time frame,” stated the press release credited to communications coordinator Stephanie Snyder. But the release said the county will ask that property owners voluntarily remove the signs.

The county’s Code Compliance Director Steve Brown mailed letters March 26 to two organizations whose names and phone numbers appear on the signs – Protect Your Property Rights and Citizens for Property Rights In Nevada County – asking them to remove the signs before notifying property owners to do so. The signs are election signs and should have been removed within 10 days of the March 5 election, Brown’s letter stated.

Representatives from both organizations responded that the signs were the property of the private citizens displaying them.

On Thursday, Jesse Montoya, head of the county’s Community Development Agency, said Brown did not have a definitive legal opinion that the signs were political. He added that county officials would wait until County Counsel Charles McKee returned from vacation to give them a formal legal opinion on whether the signs are tied to an election or campaign.

As for Friday’s press release, “it was just that there seemed to be a need for clarification,” said Rick Haffey, assistant county executive.

County officials will ask McKee for a formal opinion, and case law he finds to support that the signs are political may change the policy stated Friday, Haffey said.

County officials received “numerous phone calls” asking for clarification about what the county’s policy is regarding the signs, Haffey said.

Brown could not be reached for comment.

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