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Town not giving ground on barring political signs

In Orchard Park, political signs are regarded rather like dandelions -- something to be stamped out.

And so it was during the past week, when a sign supporting James P. Keane, candidate for Erie County executive, went up on North Buffalo Street. And came down.

There's a "ladies and gentlemen's agreement" among the political parties in Orchard Park that signs shall not sully their streets and lawns -- even for candidates above the town level.

Town Democratic Chairman Dan NeMoyer said he called the Keane campaign after the signs were spotted.

"They said some zealous supporters might have grabbed some and put them up," NeMoyer said. "Orchard Park is a unique community with regard to the signs. I have a feeling there are probably a lot of people who aren't aware of the agreement."

The agreement came about after it was determined in 2001 that a town ordinance banning political signs was constitutional. The town is still defending a no-billboards law in court.

The Democrats dropped out of the political sign agreement in 2005 but rejoined earlier this year -- apparently under the weight of peer pressure from their political rivals.

Word of political sign sightings in Orchard Park apparently travels fast. Republican Chairwoman JoAnn Litwin spotted the sign Saturday and immediately called Independence Party Chairwoman Jan Harding Buffum.

Harding Buffum made a quick stop at NeMoyer's house.

"I think because I was the instigator of getting the sign agreement together, JoAnn probably called me," said Harding Buffum. "He's right around the corner, so I stopped over and told him about it.

"Everybody's aware Orchard Park doesn't like signs. We're doing what the people want."

Keane spokesman Donald Van Every said campaign signs hadn't even officially left the office yet when they went up in Orchard Park. There were no stakes yet.

"We had a dialogue with the Democratic town chair[man] and essentially agreed to live by the rules the parties have worked out down there," Van Every said. "Jim Keane will ask supporters to put their signs in their windows instead of in the yards."

The sign came down Tuesday.

Orchard Park Conservative Chairman Remy Orffeo said it was an example of the agreement working.

"County candidates aren't necessarily going to be aware of these specific agreements," Orffeo said. "Jim reacted in a very appropriate and conscientious manner."

Litwin, meanwhile, said there are still issues popping up. Like the truck parked on a lawn on Lincoln Avenue during the Fourth of July parade that had a Keane sign.

"I guess we hadn't gotten into the mobile sign thing," Litwin said of the agreement. "But it was parked in middle of someone's front lawn, so I consider that a lawn sign."

Lawn care just keeps getting harder these days.


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