Temporary Real-Estate Directional (or Development) Signs

TREDs are the signs that go up every weekend at many intersections, pointing drivers to the nearby (or sometimes far away) developments. For some reason, there seems to be a tradition of placing 2 of the same signs next to each other, both saying the same thing. When there are multiple developments down the same side road, this leads to a total glut of signs.

Several years ago one Saturday morning (ironically April 26, 2014) Councilman David Marks called me in a panic saying "Mike, have you seen Honeygo Blvd"? I knew exactly what he was referring to, so I went out to take photos of (and remove) many real estate development signs. I wrote to Arnold Jablon insisting that something be done and attached photos of 173 signs found along a 3.5 mile stretch. Later that year, just before elections, I noticed suddenly one Saturday that there were no signs. I saw David at a fund raiser that evening and asked him. He said that the County Administration "finally decided to enforce the law", and then there was an article in the Daily Record on September 13 reporting that the County had sent letters to the companies, saying that they would deny building permits if more signs were put up. Honeygo Blvd was completely clear for a year. Then some started appearing again.

I filed a PIA for a copy of the letter that they had sent. I got a copy which has an "attached notice regarding the permitted use" which "has been effective since 1984 and continues to be the policy". The attached document was part of a 1984 policy, which was replaced by the 1992 "Zoning Commissioner's Policy Manual" (with one minor change in the maximum height of a sign from 4 ft to 3). The sign portion of the 1992 ZCPM should have been declared to be null and void when the underlying BCZR Section 413 was repealed and replaced by the present Section 450 back in 1997. I asked an assistant county attorney about this discrepancy with the 1984 version, but he refused to provide me an answer. So we have the people in charge of CE still referring to a very old, obsolete document. A close reading of that policy (either version) reveals that it is talking about signs placed on private property with the owner's permission. However, those who want to place signs in the public right-of-way could easily believe that it allows signs there, although the actual law at the time (and still) clearly says that this is illegal.

I found this letter to the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors explaining the policy, and how it was being enforced.

In mid-2015, I found a description online (now gone) at the "Maryland Multi-Housing Association, Inc" website that claimed to explain Baltimore County's new policy on the subject. Note that it appears to claim that it replaces the "archaic 1984 policy" which they found absurd. My PIA request on October 18, 2015 explicitly included a request for documentation regarding this, but I was not provided any.

Regardless, the signs that are being put up, as the ones pictured above, are all in excess of the 6" x 24" size specified in these "policies". (They are 1 ½' x 2 ½' while the MMHA interpretation said 1'x2'.) And they are in the road right-of-way, which is still prohibited.

Later, there were about half dozen along Honeygo Blvd for one developer every weekend, but suddenly they stopped, so it seems that someone else filed a complaint. They continue to trash other roads in the County.

As bizarre as it seems, the County assistant attorney is still referring to that 37-year old "policy" in Code Enforcement hearings, and providing a copy to violators as a description of what they are allowed to do. They aren't even using the "current" 1992 version (which is still misleading).

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Updated 6 June 2021 by MAP