Nineteen Scenic Byways have been established by the Maryland Office of Tourism to offer a taste of Maryland scenic beauty, history and culture. This is a major tourism initiative. Some of these are at least partially in Baltimore County:
Illegal signs put up along these roads are particularly bad, because they deprive us of the scenic enjoyment and tend to destroy the tourism advantage which the Scenic Byways are intended to promote.
A sign activist in the northern part of the County did some checking with the MD Office of Promotion on how to deal with these. He writes:
Helene at the MD Office of Tourism (877-333-4455) called back one hour later. She provided a wealth of information:
- The MD Office of Promotion funds and promotes the Scenic Byways program throughout the State of Maryland.
- The State Highway Administration is responsible for ensuring that the Scenic Byways are exactly what it says — scenic and unobstructed by signage.
- State law prohibits the installation of a sign /advertising on Scenic Byway routes without express approval from the SHA.
- Once an application is filed with SHA, they will issue a permit with a time frame for the sign.
- Nothing is permitted on a Scenic Byway without SHA permission. Period.
Should illegal commercial signs or mom & pop signs be illegally posted, it is:
- A violation of State policy.
- SHA will send a citation/violation notice and an invoice for removal of the sign.
- The violator will be fined by the SHA for violating State policy.
"Key to the enforcement of this State policy is the interest and commitment of Governor Larry Hogan to bring more people to the State of Maryland, to have them spend money here in Maryland, and to encourage them to settle here in the State of Maryland."
Where the illegal signs are posted on a Scenic Byway, the procedure for enforcement of this strict policy is as follows:
- Identify the location and file a report with the local SHA office.
- The Hereford SHA shop located on Mt. Carmel Road is responsible for enforcing the ban on signage in State rights-of-way and on Scenic Byways in the Hereford area.
- Contact Mr. Brian Knighting and/or Mr. Davey Lakes with information on violators (410-329-6752).
- They will arrange for removal of signs and citations and follow-up with offenders on a weekly basis.
It is important that concerned citizens play a role in this effort to make it easier for SHA to move ahead with removal of signs, issuance of citations, and threat and/or imposition of fines. Because many Government offices are understaffed and overworked, we should all feel it is our civic duty to assist them.
It's also interesting to note that, back in 2014, the County Council passed Bill 03-14 to prohibit electronic signs along Charles Street because of its scenic designation. (They were already prohibited outside of the URDL, so that covers most of the other Scenic Byways.