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Aurora: candidate’s sign violates rules

Aldermanic candidate Matt Harrington's sign outside his home. The homeowner was issued notice last week thsize sign was violaticity ordinance.

Aldermanic candidate Matt Harrington's sign outside his home. The homeowner was issued a a notice last week that the size of the sign was in violation of a city ordinance. Harrington is running for alderman in the 9th Ward. | Photo courtesy Matt Harrington

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:09AM

AURORA — An aldermanic candidate’s political yard sign has been found in violation of a city ordinance.

Matt Harrington, a candidate for the City Council seat in the far East Side’s 9th Ward, said shortly after putting up a campaign sign in his yard, he received a notice that the sign was too large and in violation of a city ordinance.

City spokesman Kevin Stahr said the owner of the home in the 3200 block of Andover Drive received a notice from the city on Sept. 12 stating that the size of the sign was in violation of the city ordinance regarding political signs. The homeowner is Karen Watson, who Harrington said is his roommate.

According to municipal code, political signs in a single-family residential area can be no more than 6 square feet in area, or 2-feet by 3-feet. According to Harrington, the sign in the yard is 7-feet by 4-feet.

“In single-family or residential areas, we want to make sure the standards are high to protect the quality of life for residents. That’s what people have come to expect,” Stahr said.

The homeowner has until Thursday to comply with the ordinance by removing the sign, Stahr said.

The city’s customer service call center fielded a call about the sign on Sept. 11 and the property standards division was sent out to inspect the sign the next day, officials said.

Harrington said other local politicians have signs around town that also violate city ordinance. He said he has not decided if he will take his sign down.

“We’re talking to lawyers and the ACLU. We think it might be a freedom of expression since it’s on private property,” Harrington said. “(My lawyer) likes the 1st Amendment aspect of this.”

If the homeowner does not remove the sign, an administrative hearing will take place, Stahr said. If the homeowner is found in violation of the ordinance, there are potential fines.

“Obviously the preference is that we give the homeowner two weeks to rectify the matter first,” Stahr said.

Harrington said the city chose to enforce ordinance “because they’re scared of what the ward wants.”

“This is strictly harassment,” he said.

Alderman Allan Lewandowski, who was appointed to the 9th Ward seat in March 2011, said he has not decided if he’ll make a run for the post.

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