Federal Judge Strikes Down ‘For Sale’ Sign Ban
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A federal judge on Monday struck down as unconstitutional a 7-year-old ordinance barring ″for sale″ and ″sold″ signs in residential areas of the township of Bloomfield.
U.S. District Judge Harold A. Ackerman ruled that the law violates the First Amendment right of free expression because it hinders the flow of information affecting basic decisions such as where a family chooses to live.
He also said the ordinance is inconsistent because it permits the posting of signs at construction sites in residential areas.
″Bloomfield can promote aesthetics and preserve the environment by less intrusive means,″ the judge said. ″The existence of commercial activity is no justification for narrowing freedom of expression.″
The township would still have the right to regulate the signs’ size and color, he said.
Vincent Pirone, the community’s assistant counsel, said he did not know whether Bloomfield would appeal the ruling in the case brought by the Board of Realtors of Bloomfield, Nutley, Glen Ridge and Belleville.
Kathleen McCormick, the board’s attorney, said the law hurts business because serious buyers learn about homes for sale by seeing the signs.
The township disagreed, saying that most real estate transactions are not initiated through ″for sale″ signs.
Bloomfield officials also contended that the need for the law outweighed any intrusion into constitutional rights and that other courts recently have upheld the value of aesthetic concerns in municipal land-use law.