Greene Township is facing a Federal lawsuit over its Political Sign Ordinance.

Greene Township is facing a Federal lawsuit over its Political Sign Ordinance.

Michael McGonigle, Democratic candidate for Supervisor, filed the suit afer receiving a letter from the Township stating he was in violation of the ordinance.

The suit claims the ordinance violates McGonigle’s and all citizens’ First and Fourth Amendment Rights by requiring fees, deposits and permits before he can post a political sign as well as limiting the time the signs can be up, the type of signs and where they can be posted.

The ordinance requires a 50 cents per sign fee, limits signs to 30 days prior to the election and states they must be removed seven days after. The ordinance also states signs cannot be placed in the Right of Way of anyone.

The suit seeks an injunction to stop enforcement of the ordinance, as well as legal fees and compensation.

“I didn’t want to do it. As a candidate for Greene Township Supervisor I hoped to avoid it,” McGonigle said. “But the Township made it impossible for me to do so. I was forced by Township officials to take action against Greene Township in Federal Court for violating my First Amendment right to free speech.”

 He added the ordinance also calls for the signs to be turned over to the Township for destruction after the election. He said he found that “unreasonable and unfair” since he paid for the signs and would not be compensated for them.

The suit notes the Greene Supervisors should have been aware that their ordinance was unconstitutional following a well publicized suit two years ago filed against several townships in Pike County which brought up the same issues.

The 2007 suit filed by Michael Meachem, who was running for Pike Prothonotary, named Lehman, Blooming Grove, Delaware, Dingman, Lackawaxen, Shohola and Westfall townships, as well as Milford Borough. The suit was settled with the municipalities agreeing to rewrite their ordinances.

Township Supervisor Edward Simon said Thursday he had not seen the suit and could not comment on it.

Township Solicitor Jeffrey Treat said the suit was not necessary since may of the sections addressed in the lawsuit are not being enforced for political signs. He added the Township has not sought to collect any money, taken down any signs or denied him the right to put up any signs.

Treat said a letter was sent to McGonigle noting he did not have a permit and that his signs were too close to the road right of way “in some areas.”

McGonigle’s suit says placing signs in the right of way is a traditional means of campaigning in the US and one of the only ways to campaign in Greene Township.

Treat said the violation letter was sent to address a complaint about some of McGonigle’s signs which he said were place within a foot of the pavement.

Treat said that the Township would work to settle the suit and he would be reccommending the Township rewrite its ordinance concerning political signs. He said the changes would limit the ordinance to just addressing the safety issues with political signs.

Treat noted he still thought some kind of registration was needed so violations could be addressed by the person placing the signs. He noted the Township should not be placed in the position of moving or removing political signs.

He noted the Meacher suit did not address registration. “All the Township needs is someone to take a picture of a worker removing a political sign,” he said, adding the person placing the signs should be responsible for removing signs.

The Greene Township Supervisors have set a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 pm, to address the suit, according to Treat and a legal notice in this addition of The News Eagle.

McGonigle won the Democratic nomination in the Spring Primary. On Nov. 3, he faces Gary Carlton, who won the Republican nomination.