How A Yard Sign Has Local Man Facing Possible Jail Time

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One man’s county clean up effort ended up with him spending time in county court.

Call them litter or call them clever advertising, yard signs line local streets. Baltimore County workers clean up thousands a year.

Mike Pierce says he was trying to do the same, but is now looking at possible jail time.

Pierce says he pulls hundreds of signs out of the ground every year, but now, removing just one has him in trouble with the law.

Along Baltimore County roads, you can buy a house, sell a house, and find a church. Just by reading the signs.

“It’s an eyesore,” said Kevin Thornton. “It could cause accidents.”

Drivers, like Thornton, find those signs not only unsafe, but also unsightly.

“It’s just causing litter that we don’t need,” said Thornton.

Community activist Mike Pierce agrees.

“Almost without thinking, just grabbed it as I walked by,” said Pierce.

Instinct, because he removes hundreds of signs a year. He told our media partner, The Baltimore Sun, that’s exactly what he did at Providence Road and 695.

Not long after, the police knocked on his door.

“I don’t think he believed he was breaking the law,” said attorney Andrew Alperstein. “And I don’t think he was breaking the law.”

Pierce’s attorney tells WJZ he was within county code, which says citizens can take down illegal signs.

“He’s really committed,” Alperstein said. “His cause is making sure we all get to enjoy the beauty of our neighborhood, and he volunteers his time to taking down these signs.”

His personal mission to clean up Baltimore County by taking down so-called “nuisance” signs could cost the 70-year-old jail time.

Up to 90-days behind bars to be exact, but it’s unlikely.

“Everybody wants a nice, safe, secure, comfortable, clean place to live,” said Baltimore County officer Jennifer Peach.

Baltimore County police say Pierce isn’t in trouble for removing the sign, so much as refusing to return it to the owner.

Their advice is to contact police if you see an illegal sign.

“If you think there is a county code violation of any type, call the police,” said Peach.

The police can then refer any violations to code enforcement. County workers respond to complaints and proactively take down thousands of signs a year.

The county will contact the owners of the signs. If they keep breaking the law, they’ll face fines.

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