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Councilman defends Lions Club in sign complaint
• Yeakley says city often looks the other way
Former council candidate Gene Yeakley last week accused the city of being lax about sign ordinance enforcement and complained the Ceres Lions Club was being allowed to place signs in places where they aren’t allowed. That wasn’t the case, said Councilman Mike Kline. - photo by Jeff Benziger

A citizen’s complaint to the City Council last week that the city is too lax in the enforcement of the Sign Ordinance led one councilman to defend the actions of the Ceres Lions Club.

Yeakley charged that the Lions placed Omelet Breakfast signs on Walmart property at Service and Mitchell roads without permission. He said he called the Walmart Corporation headquarters and was told that the company doesn’t “condone” signs on Walmart properties. Yeakley, who ran twice unsuccessfully for council, frequently appears at council meetings to call attention to illegal signs and other property blight issues.

“I just feel that some of these people feel that nobody can touch them; they have some kind of entitlement, whether it be real estate companies that post signs on the sidewalks … or garage sales, whatever,’ said Yeakley. “They’re all in the same category – they don’t want to read anything.”

Temporary signs are permitted by non-profit groups with city approval under Section 18.42.160. Those temporary signs – such as ones advertising club breakfast events – may be placed on private property with owners’ permission or in the city right-of-way with city permission as soon as 14 days before the event. Yeakley said the Lions Club signs were up more than 14 days before its Feb. 9 breakfast.

“I have nothing against anybody but these things have gone too long and some of the councilmembers know that and we need to start correcting it,” said Yeakley.

Councilman Mike Kline, who is president of the Ceres Lions Club, answered the complaint. 

Kline said Yeakley contacted Vice Mayor Linda Ryno with complaints about the Lions Club signs and was then contacted be her. Kline said he immediately looked into the matter and learned the club’s sign for southbound Mitchell Road was on property with owner approval. Kline said the property on the Walmart property was removed.

“We’re not looking to take advantage of the situation but what is bad by me is you … spread it out and we have permission,” Kline told Yeakley. He added that the club’s signs have been approved by either property owners or the city on right of way.

“We have been an organization in this town for over 50 years. We donate for scholarships. We do all kinds of stuff and we have never asked for anything over and above for favors. Just because I’m on the City Council we have never asked for anything (special). We pay for rental fees like everybody else does. We pay our deposits just like everybody else does. We never ask for exceptions.”

After receiving pushback from Kline, Yeakley mentioned that, as candidates, some of the councilmembers have placed campaign signs on parcels without permission.

Councilman Bret Durossette chimed in saying the Lions’ event raises about $7,000 for community causes and that in years past he had Walmart permission for sign placement and noted “the second time I thought I had permission.”

Yeakley continued: “If you call them at the corporate office back in Arkansas they will tell you … we condone no signs on any of our properties, active or inactive.”

To that Kline told Yeakley: “If it makes you feel any better, ours are gone.”

Yeakley said he feels one illegal sign often leads to more “and just makes for a terrible looking place.”