Windsor Heights Says Prohibition Of Signs Not Violation Of Free Speech

Aug 23, 2017

A Des Moines suburb says it is not violating the First Amendment rights of two couples who were told to remove signs on their properties that were critical of the city.

Last week a letter from the ACLU of Iowa to the city of Windsor Heights said that infringes on free speech. In its response, Windsor Heights says the homeowners didn’t comply with city code because they lacked permits, and because the signs displayed were the wrong size.

The city says the homeowners can repost signs with the same messages once they comply with these regulations. Or if they want, they can appeal to the city’s Board of Adjustment.

One of the signs opposes recent a decision by Windsor Heights to install sidewalks. The second protests the city's removal of the first sign.

Initially the city told the homeowners their signs were in violation of an ordinance which prohibits the creation of a nuisance that's "injurious to health, indecent, or unreasonably offensive to the senses." It now says it had cited the incorrect code, though the zoning  and permit violations are valid. 

The ACLU says it is currently reviewing the city’s response and consulting with the homeowners.