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County Strengthens Enforcement of State Law Banning Advertisements in Highway Right-of-Way

Albemarle County  has begun strengthening its enforcement of an existing state law against advertising signs in the highway right-of-way along designated entrance corridors in the County.  This enforcement program is being conducted in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s ongoing illegal sign removal efforts, and County staff has been authorized to conduct this enforcement through a signed agreement with VDOT.

Advertisements are defined as devices that are intended to draw attention to or to solicit public support for goods, merchandise, property, business, services, entertainment or amusement activities.  Any such advertisements are illegal in the highway right-of-way.  The County’s initial sign enforcement effort was authorized by the County Board of Supervisors in February of 2009 to improve safety and aesthetics along entrance corridors like Route 29 and Route 250.  That initial effort did result in a reduction in the number of illegal signs in the right-of-way, but over time the signs have re-emerged and there are flagrant repeat violators who continue to post illegal advertising signs. 

County inspectors are removing advertisements placed in the right-of-way in response to complaints that are received and as part of their regular duties as they travel around the county.  In addition, the County is also taking proactive measures such as conducting weekend sweeps to remove signs that are in violation.  All enforcement activities are being conducted with existing budgeted resources, so no significant cost impact is anticipated from this program.  Illegal advertisements removed by County staff may be discarded, and violators can be subject to a $100 fine per sign. 

County staff is focusing on this illegal sign issue at the request of the Board of Supervisors, who are concerned about the traffic safety impacts of signs that distract drivers and block sight lines and who find the signs to be visual clutter than detracts from the appearance of the roadways.  Anyone with questions should contact Ron Higgins at (434)296-5832.

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