A Letter to the Editor
In the February 17th Press Abby Whitt covered the Town Council meeting in which a question of finance costs came up concerning the ongoing lawsuit with Councilman David Whitaker over restrictions of political signs. The Town Council’s decision to pursue this matter is difficult for a lot of us to grasp. I am not a lawyer but I am a common citizen and a lot of law is not so legalese that the common man can’t understand it. As in the First Amendment on free speech. And as in the UNANIMOUS Supreme Court ruling in their 1994 decision on “Ladue vs.Gilleo” which said that the town’s interest in regulating signs does not outweigh its residents’ right to free speech. And as in Va. Code 15.2-109 which affirms that localities shall not prohibit the display of political campaign signs on private property. And as in the Town Zoning Ordinance of 2020, Article 1 Section 1.4 which states “all uses and development must comply with all other applicable State, and Federal rules and regulations.”
Aside from the blatant unconstitutionality of the Council’s regulation there are other related issues. They cited Mr. Whitaker for having more signs than the ordinance allowed, three. Many Town of Floyd properties of both parties had between 4 and 6 signs in their yard. Why weren’t they cited and why was Mr. Whitaker singled out? If I remember right, the Mayor himself, a member of Council, had 4 or 5 five signs in his yard. Why is he exempt? Why didn’t the Council cite the Mayor for the very same supposed violation? The constant language of Zoning Article 7, which regulates signs, is “on any single lot”, “per lot” and “per property”. This language excludes “per household” or “per person in the household” as valid interpretations. This apparent double standard by the Council is very disturbing.
So there is an easy answer to the rising costs of this lawsuit that is being shouldered by the tax paying citizens. Return the legal property rights to the Town Citizens by eliminating the restrictions. Remove the arbitrary and illegal citation against Mr. Whitaker. And provide restitution to Mr. Whitaker for his losses in defending his rights that the Constitution gave him almost 250 years ago. That cost is not only right, it’s going to be cheaper than going to court.
Richard S. Telling, Willis, Virginia.