Judge Rules Saugatuck's Sign Ordinance Is Unconstitutional In Lake Street Case
An Allegan County judge has ruled that the City of Saugatuck’s local sign ordinance is unconstitutional, according to City Manager Kirk Harrier.
In a ruling late Wednesday, Allegan County District Court Judge Joseph S. Skocelas addressed the controversial case pitting two men who own a home at 790 Lake Street and city officials over the homeowner’s placement of multiple signs in front of their house.
Life partners John Porzondek - a former Saugatuck city councilman who is once again running for a seat on the municipal board - and James Serman weeks ago received notification from city officials that they were in violation of a local ordinance limiting the number of signs a homeowner can display on their property.
The pair currently have more than a dozen signs in their front yard in response to their failed attempts to persuade the city to allow them to have an awning installed over an upstairs area of their home.
The two men had lost several court battles over the issue.
The signs - many of which refer to the awning issue - are art, argue Porzondek and Serman.
But Skocelas reportedly did not rule on whether or not the signs are art and thus protected constitutionally, according to Harrier. The judge simply ruled that the city’s sign ordinance is unconstitutional.
Harrier said the city was responding to neighbors complaints about the numerous signs on the men’s property when it issued the ordinance violation.
The men reportedly said their display, called Misfit Art Butterfly “was created out of our soul’s necessity to balance our understanding of forces directly attacking our artistic goals in the restoration, adornment and protection of our home within this place called Saugatuck,” Porzondek and James Bryan Serman wrote on their website, lakestreetcommons.com.
The pair run a lodging business at their home.
Harrier said the city council will have to discuss the judge’s ruling before a decision is made whether or not to appeal Skocelas’ ruling.