By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
In addition to a full slate of agenda items, including seven public hearings, the Little Falls City Council will formally receive a petition at its Monday night meeting, to continue to fly the “We Support Our Troops” banner on the bank building on the city’s Bank Square.
The petition is in response to another Little Falls resident’s position that the banner should be taken down if it is found it violates the city’s sign ordinance.
She, Robin Hensel, was asked to remove signs in her yard after the city received complaints about them from other residents, and found the signs violated the city sign ordinance.
Some of the signs she can no longer display in her yard, are now displayed on her van.
“I have a right to free speech, and a right to decorate my van in whatever fashion I wish,” Hensel said.
When the issue was published in the Record’s Jan. 29 issue, Hensel was contacted by KSTP TV Channel 5, and the broadcast aired that evening.
Some Little Falls residents who learned of the possibility that the “We Support Our Troops” banner may be taken down, feel strongly about keeping it hanging.
“Like our troops, we are ready to fight this one,” reads the petition delivered to the City Council.
Hensel said she is being villified as she found out the story had gone viral online. On several extreme political sites, she even found physical threats made against her.
It is not the “content of the sign” that is at issue. Hensel said she was not anti-military, but in fact comes from a military family.
Her father was honored for his service during World War II, both of her brothers served, as well as nephews, uncles and cousins.
“I am not anti-military. I support our troops by ‘give peace a chance.’ This attitude also protects many others in other nations from unnecessary death, suffering, injuries and loss of property,” she said.
The main issue at hand she said, is that if the city has a sign ordinance, it should be followed not only by residents, but the city itself.
The residents’ petition to keep the banner up, concludes, “As residents of Little Falls we are proud to display this sign … Men and women have died for us to be free; the minimum we can do is support them.”
In 2010, the city’s then-building inspector, Jake Depuydt, was working with the Planning Commission to revise the city’s sign ordinance.
However, when Depuydt left the job, the project was put on hold, said Lori Kasella, the city’s co-city administrator and finance officer.
“The Council has requested that city staff take that project up again and finish it,” said Kasella.
City staff is doing so with the help of the city attorney.
Monday night’s meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., at the Little Falls City Hall. It is open to the public.