Camp Verde considers banning political signs in commercial tourism zones

It’s possible that Camp Verde could prohibit political signs on Finnie Flat Road if council were to designate SR 260 between I-17 and Finnie Flat Road, as well as Finnie Flat Road and Main Street as a commercial tourism zone. VVN/Bill Helm

It’s possible that Camp Verde could prohibit political signs on Finnie Flat Road if council were to designate SR 260 between I-17 and Finnie Flat Road, as well as Finnie Flat Road and Main Street as a commercial tourism zone. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE -- Arizona Revised Statute 16-1019 says it’s a class 2 misdemeanor to remove, cover or alter in any way a political campaign sign.

But the statute says nothing about prohibiting such signs.

What to do with political signage – and where to allow its placement – was discussed for nearly 90 minutes Wednesday in a joint work session of the Camp Verde’s town council and planning and zoning commission.

Camp Verde Community Development Director Carmen Howard told the committees Wednesday that the sign code session was an opportunity to update both governing boards on her department’s plans for a “major update” to the codes.

Political signs, she said, were a “touchy subject, a complex issue to say the least.” Such as where they should be placed.

According to the statute’s subsection F, political signs cannot be placed within any municipality-designated commercial tourism zone.

Howard suggested council designate Camp Verde’s primary business district – SR 260 between I-17 and Finnie Flat Road, as well as Finnie Flat Road and Main Street – as a commercial tourism zone.

This would mean that on those roads, the placement of political campaign signs would be prohibited.

The statute allows for a municipality to designate as many as two different zones that total no more than three miles “where by resolution of the municipal governing body the municipality has determined that based on a predominance of commercial tourism, resort and hotel uses within the zone the placement of political signs within the right-of-way in the zone will detract from the scenic and aesthetic appeal of the area within the zone and deter its appeal to tourists.”

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Mike Hough said he “really like[s] what I see” with the proposed code changes.

“If you don’t define it, it becomes negotiable,” Hough said. “If you over-define it, you’re stuck.”

Council Member Joe Butner said that restricting the location of political signs “really bugs me.”

“A town can prohibit signs in particular areas?” Butner asked rhetorically. “Maybe we ought to not mess with political signs in the right of way.”

Overall, Howard told the committees that Camp Verde’s town codes “are much simpler than any of the other codes.”

“Our staff believes these codes are generous,” she said.

Following her presentation, Howard said she would send proposed sign code changes to Town of Camp Verde Attorney Bill Sims before bringing it back to Planning and Zoning for recommendation.

A complete list of proposed sign code changes can be found in council’s March 13 agenda packet, at the Town of Camp Verde website: www.campverde.az.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/03-13-2019-WS-Packet.pdf.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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