By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Residents in the city of Little Falls have been using their vehicles to advertise their garage sales. The city’s sign ordinance does not permit the placing of garage sale signs on property other than the seller’s own yard.
With garage sale season in full swing, Little Falls Council Member Greg Zylka said Monday, that he’s been approached by residents about the issue.
Addressing what he called “a massive amount of garage sales with a massive number of cars with garage sale signs parked,” he said “I hate to take a scab off an old wound, but there’s got to be a way to do it. Other cities do.”
Zylka said he would like to see the city’s attorney look into what could be done.
“I have people coming in and talking to me about it every day,” he said. “It’s not that I can’t handle it, but it’s almost embarrassing to see those vehicles and everything parked around with those garage sales signs on them.”
Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said in some communities residents can get permission from other property owners to put a garage sale sign in their yard.
Zylka said that would free up time for the city’s police department and city staff from “running around pulling them everywhere.”
“If we had a better understanding by the public, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal,” said Zylka.
Police Chief Greg Schirmers told the Council officers make it a habit to remove signs from public utility areas, but didn’t look for signs in the rights of way, unless there was a complaint.
He said the department had been dealing with complaints recently.
“On weekends, we wouldn’t be picking up those signs,” said Schirmers. “It would be focused more on city staff. I would like to know how the City Council wants that addressed. Do you want us to be out looking for those signs? I would like some clarity with the new ordinance and how it’s evolved.”
Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder said he was under the impression that if someone called in, the police would take care of it.
Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said she was under the impression that city staff took care of sign complaints.
“Is it the police department or engineering?” asked Schirmers, indicating it wasn’t specified anywhere how it should be done.
“I would like it to stay with city staff instead of police officers running around town and taking down signs instead of doing other stuff,” said VanRisseghem.
Council President Don Klinker noted city staff doesn’t work weekends.
“I’m not opposed to us doing that,” said Schimers. “But we need direction.”
“I read the court report,” said Zylka. “It looks like there’s more important stuff to worry about than garage sale signs.” He also questioned whether city staff had the time.
“The concern I would have is sometimes it could become confrontational,” said Zylka. “Maybe that’s why it should be police instead of staff.”
“Whether you pull from the police department or the engineer, it’s city staff,” said Schirmers.
Crowder said he’d received a call about a sign in the bike traffic lane. “That’s dangerous,”he said.
Nothing was resolved Monday, but may be discussed at future meeting.