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Do's and don'ts of garage sale signs

Alex Doty • Jun 10, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Garage sales and yard sales are a spring and summer tradition in local communities that can be counted on year after year, but the signs that promote them can pose problems for motorists.

Signs can block the sight lines for motorists, can litter road rights of way, and even damage vegetation and irrigation systems.

Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city has regulations in place that deal with improper placement of yard signs.

“We regulate the placement of garage sale signs,” he said. “We don’t allow them in the (public) right of way. We’ve asked people to place them up on private property (and) get the property owner’s permission if it’s down the street.”

McGinnis also noted that signs nailed to trees and utility poles are forbidden. Violations are followed-up and subject to prosecution, he said.

“If people are going to put garage sale signs down in the dirt, we ask them to watch out for irrigation lines and that sort of thing,” McGinnis added.

But McGinnis pointed out that sale sign placement and abuse isn’t a big local problem.

“In general, we don’t have a huge problem in Grand Haven,” he said. “People are very conscientious about picking up signs after they use them.”

City public works staff are also aware of signs, making sure they don’t become an issue, McGinnis said.

“Top to bottom, we’re trained pretty well to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not a problem,” he said. “They can look pretty trashy if you don’t stay on top of them. ... We’re very alert about them, and staff does pick them up after garage sales are over.”

Ottawa County and the state also have policies in place about signs in the rights of way.

John Richard, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Grand Region, said signs are not allowed in state rights of way.

“They will be removed,” he said. “(It’s) most likely by our maintenance personnel.”

The Ottawa County Road Commission says signs — including political signs — are also not permitted within the rights of way on all roads under the jurisdiction of the commission.

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