WELLESLEY, MA — Towns officials have rescinded their order for a resident to take down his giant “Impeach Trump” banner he hung on his home.
On Monday, Zoning Enforcement Officer Michael Grant wrote to Chiasson, ordering him to take down the sign within seven days, arguing that it violated town building codes. The letter said Chiasson would be fined $300 for every day the sign stayed up.
But Stephanie Hawkinson, the town’s communication manager, told Patch the town rescinded the order after looking into previous federal court cases regarding political signs. The statement said:
The Town of Wellesley, through its Building Inspector, will rescind the violation notice served upon Mr. Chiasson regarding a violation of section 22A (Signs) of the Town’s zoning bylaw. The Town appreciates Mr. Chiasson’s response to the notice and is prepared to review its bylaw to ensure that it complies with recent Federal Court decisions on political signs. The violation notice was initially issued because of the size of the sign. The Town has no issue with the message of the sign.
After the order was rescinded, Chiasson told Patch he was happy with the response from town officials.
“I feel great. I won’t gloat, I’m just grateful for the town for acting so nimbly and wisely,” he said.
The original letter said that because the sign was larger than 6 square feet and more than 3 feet above grade, it violated the town’s building codes. He added that Chiasson could ask for a special permit from the zoning board of appeals, but would have had to take the sign down in the meantime.
Before the decision was rescinded, Chiasson had tried reaching out to the Massachusetts arm of the ACLU on Twitter. He was concerned the town was violating his right to free speech.
“I think the town is unaware of the constitutional implications of banning signage,” Chiasson said before the order was rescinded. “There have been Supreme Court decisions that at least suggest they are in the wrong.”
During the 2016 presidential election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the town of Wellesley with 10,568 votes to President Trump’s 3,235.
Photo courtesy of Dan Chiasson