AUGUSTA (WJBF) — As many people are focusing on cleaning up Washington Road and downtown Augusta to get it ready for Masters patrons, the Marshal’s Office is focusing its efforts on another part of town — South Augusta.
“I know everybody is focusing on cleaning up the city, especially around Masters time, but this is something we are going to do year-round and we want the citizens of Richmond County to know we are focused on this year-round,” Marshal Ramone Lamkin said.
The Marshal’s Office and Augusta Code Enforcement teamed up Wednesday up to tackle the ongoing problem of business signs being put up on the sides of roads.
“We have a lot of problems with the people advertising with signs like, we buy houses with cash or rent my car, rent my house or even right now we have signs up about Masters badges,” Lamkin said.
It’s against the law for businesses to put up signs on city, state and federal property.
The Marshal says the most frustrating part about the effort is once the signs are taken down, they keep coming back.
“I just think they don’t think they’re going to get into trouble. There’s the risk and reward. You think, hey, I can get business by putting my number out here so let me just try to do it. This has been a practice here over the years,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin says he’s now trying to enforce the problem.
“I actually call people who have the signs and let them know they are actually in violation of a Richmond County ordinance. I try to get voluntary compliance and have them not to do it again,” Lamkin said.
However, Lamkin says giving citations to repeat sign offenders can be difficult because the current ordinance is weak.
He says he’s working with the commission to change the penalties.
“Right now, I think it’s like 10 days to move your sign. There is a fine, but the fine is set by a judge, so we have to work with the judge about this. When we set the fine, maybe have a stiffer fine amount,” Lamkin said.
The Marshal says he will also be targeting people who have junk cars on their property.
He adds he is asking the Augusta Commission for more money for next year so he can hire more staff members to investigate illegal dumping.