By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings.com
Over the objections of citizens who urged them not to restrict their 1st Amendment Rights and to avoid expensive litigation, the Marlboro Township Council unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibits the placement of temporary political signs on public property and rights of way, limits the time before and after an election that signs may appear on private property and rights of way adjacent to private property, and regulates the size of signs and the distance they may appear from each other on private property.
At the request of Councilman Frank LaRocca, the ordinance was amended to eliminate the imposition of a 90 day jail sentence for violating the ordinance. Candidates, Committee Chairmen, Campaign Treasurers and private property owners now face fines ranging from $100 to $1250 if signs appear more than 45 days before an election, 7 days after an election or if signs promoting the same candidate are posted within 50 feet of each other on the same property. The total square footage of all political signs on any one tax lot must not exceed 16 square feet.
Matthew Rasmussen, an attorney representing the Marlboro Republican Committee told the council during the public hearing prior to the adoption of the ordinance that it contained numerous “constitutional infirmities, some of them fatal” and urged the governing body to defeat the ordinance in order to avoid expensive litigation that they would certainly lose.