HADDON HEIGHTS – Back in January, Danielle Linaris put a sign in her front yard to proclaim “Hate Has No Home Here.”
On Thursday, a borough employee delivered a different message to Linaris: The sign has no home, either, because it violates a municipal code and must be removed within three days.
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“It’s ridiculous,” said Linaris, a homemaker and mother of three who vows to keep the red, white and blue placard firmly planted in front of her 11th Avenue home.
“I’m not taking my sign down.”
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Turns out, she won’t have to.
Ron Newell, the borough’s code enforcement officer, said officials had a change of heart after giving the sign more thought.
“I’ve spoken to the borough solicitor and we decided it would be unwise to enforce removal,” he said in an email sent to the Courier-Post late Thursday afternoon.
“We will be reviewing the code to ensure no one’s rights are violated,” he continued.
“That’s great!” Linaris said after learning of the borough’s new position from the Courier-Post. “I’m glad they aren’t going to enforce it.”
“I love our town and hoped they would do the right thing,” she added.
Linaris said she learned of the borough’s objection to her sign when she found a form letter from Newell in her mailbox around 11 a.m.
“It has come to my attention that you are in violation of Haddon Heights’ sign code,” said the letter.
The letter said the municipal sign rules are intended “to provide a safe and attractive community to all of our residents.”
Linaris said she was confused by the letter, wondering if it might somehow refer to a small sign hanging from a branch that reads “Welcome to Our Garden.”
According to Linaris, she called Newell and learned the hanging sign was acceptable because it’s considered decorative.
But the anti-hate placard ran afoul of borough rules because it was viewed as an advertisement, she recounted.
In an interview, Linaris questioned why that view didn’t extend to the small sign outside her door that promotes a home-security firm, noting those markers are common outside local homes.
Linaris said she got the sign in response to President Donald Trump’s first attempt to impose a travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations. The ban, and a follow-up effort, have both been blocked by federal lawsuits.
“I’ve had it since right after the Women’s March, said Linaris, who took her children to the Washington, D.C., event.
In the letter to Linaris, Newell said signs were allowed only with the borough’s approval, or if the owner paid for a permit.
“I told him I’d get a permit then,” Linaris said. “And he said it probably wouldn’t be approved.”
Linaris also questioned why the borough should have authority to approve a statement of her opinions.
“This is my private property,” she observed. “It’s freedom of speech.”
Linaris, who’s active in a parent-teacher association, said she’s aware signs advertising school events typically have a 30-day limit.
“But this sign, there should be no reason why it cannot stay up,” she said.
Jim Walsh; (856) 486-2646; email@example.com.