Where illegal signs go to die

IMAG0402This is a photo of the box behind the City of Northfield Maintenance Facility at 1710 Riverview Dr. where public works staff toss signs that have been placed illegally in the public right of way.

The box should soon start filling up with political signs.


  1. How exactly do I determine whether a location is part of the “public right of way”? I would hate to place a sign illegally.

    August 24, 2012
  2. Patrick Enders said:

    Wait a minute… The text in the photo seems to suggest that you can’t put a yard sign within 15 feet of the sidewalk???

    That can’t be right.

    August 24, 2012
  3. mike paulsen said:

    Northfield, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances >> PART II – NORTHFIELD CODE >> Chapter 34 – LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE >> ARTICLE 3. – DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS >>

    Temporary Signs. The following signs shall be permitted anywhere within the city provided they meet the established standards:

    Temporary Signs with Noncommercial Speech. Temporary signs that have no commercial message are permitted in all districts as follows:

    (1) Zoning certificates and fees shall not be required; and

    (2) Signs shall be setback a minimum of 12 feet from the edge of pavement on any street to provide for visibility.

    If the sign is over 30″ tall, this might also apply:
    Height Measurement, Limits, and Exceptions.
    E. Height Limit at Street Corners (Traffic Safety Visibility Triangle).
    (4) No structure, sign, or landscape element shall exceed 30 inches in height, measured from the top of the curb, within the traffic safety visibility area, unless approved by the city engineer.

    August 26, 2012
  4. Usually the edge of the right-of-way is roughly at the edge of the sidewalk nearest the front of your house. (There’s probably a couple of buffer, but I doubt they’ll crack down on it.) If you don’t have a sidewalk, the 12-15′ from the road edge or curb is a better estimate. If you want to know for sure, check out the online GIS. Look up your address, and click the map tab. Your parcel is highlighted — anything outside the highlighted area is right-of-way or neighboring property.

    All that said, I’m surprised Northfield is cracking down on this. I think small, temporary signs in the boulevard that the owner maintains should be permitted. Boulevard signs are not permitted in Minneapolis either, but I see dozens of “VOTE NO” signs installed in the boulevard. The only thing that’s really irked me is the mess of massive (Republican) signs installed in the ditch between Askov Avenue and I-35 north of Northfield — this is, at best, across the street from the owner of the signs. There are also many billboard-scale signs within the ROW along Highway 19.

    August 27, 2012

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