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“It’s The People” sign to come down, unless the City decides to adopt the sign. Courtesy|Ted Jansen

Permit restric­tions could force the “Hillsdale, It’s the People” sign on M-99 to come down, unless the City of Hillsdale decides to adopt the sign.

At Monday’s city council meeting, res­ident Ted Jansen, who headed the project last summer to rein­stall a sign in the city with the slogan, “Hillsdale, It’s the People,” addressed the council with his request that the city adopt the sign.

“Without your assis­tance, the sign will have to come down,” Jansen said.

Jansen said the Frank Beck Chevrolet, which houses the sign on its private property, received notice in mid-January from MDOT that the sign did not have the correct permit. Because the sign is visible from the highway, a bill­board permit is required for the sign through the highway adver­tising act.

When Jansen con­tacted MDOT last summer, however, he was told that the sign would not need a permit because of the capacity in which it was being used, he said.

“MDOT noted that basi­cally if the sign is not com­mercial, has no spon­sorship, and no solic­i­tation infor­mation dis­played on the sign, and it is within city limits, on private property, you don’t need a permit,” Jansen said.

With this con­fir­mation last summer, Jansen was able to apply for a permit with the City, giving him per­mission to erect the sign on private property. Since then, Jansen said he has con­tacted with MDOT, which says it was ini­tially mis­taken. A bill­board permit is needed, “unless the sign was owned and main­tained by the City,” according to Jansen.

Several council members expressed concern over the City adopting the sign, and whose respon­si­bility the sign would become.

Greg Stuchell, Ward 1 council member, said because the sign is on private property, there could be potential issues down the road.

“It’s not our property, and if we accept the sign, my concern is if they want to move it, it’s on their property,” Stuchell said.

Ward 3 Council Member Bruce Sharp said that because the sign was put together by a res­ident pri­vately, the city should not get involved. When someone takes on some­thing pri­vately, he said, they accept the respon­si­bility.

“If we adopt this sign, then we’re changing prece­dence, and I don’t want to do that,” Sharp said. “You took this on yourself, you took the respon­si­bility, and that is where the respon­si­bility should end. I am not in favor of this. I do not want the City to step in.”

Because all the proper infor­mation was not pre­pared, the council did not vote at Monday’s meeting. Dis­cussion may con­tinue at upcoming meetings.

Mayor Adam Stockford said that he was impressed with Jansen’s ini­tiative to get the sign put up.

“We did encourage this, we did say that if someone wants to put a sign up they should take their own ini­tiative to do it — and I was really impressed when you did it,” Stockford said. “I thought it was a really cool thing. It is awesome to see people get together and work together and get some­thing done.”

Stockford said he will get involved and search potential options for the sign.

“I do want the sign to be saved,” he said.