A candidate for the Central Texas College Board of Trustees is demanding that city officials in Killeen reimburse him for campaign signs he said were removed unlawfully.
On Monday, “I placed a campaign political sign at the stop light corner of Lions Club Park and (East) Stan Schlueter Loop,” Camron Cochran said in an email to Kevin Watkins, the city’s director of code enforcement. “I had placed the sign at the same location as another political candidate sign positioned at a T-junction. (On Tuesday), I drive by and noticed that the ‘yard sign’ was missing. At the same location, the much larger campaign sign was still (affixed) to the wooden fence. Does your office know if someone has taken my campaign sign and returned it to your office for safekeeping?”
Watkins responded via email on Wednesday morning.
“I just got into the office this morning and am not aware of whether any Code Enforcement staff pulled the sign or not,” he told Cochran. “I will drive out ... to check on the situation and see if I can find a sign attached to a fence also.”
Cochran told the Herald that some of his signs last week were removed from in front of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, a city facility, and “immediately” placed in a city dumpster.
Cochran, who sent a photo of his signs in a dumpster to the Herald and city officials, is blaming Killeen Civic and Conference Center Director Matthew Irvine for that. But that image, he said, was staged because he did not want to “trespass on city property.” Cochran did not say where the photo was taken.
“Mr. Irvine did not follow City of Killeen ordinance and guidance by ... Watkins,” he said. “They failed to include that portion of the story in their official response. The citizens of Killeen must monetarily reimburse me for replacement of (three) yard signs. They did not include that as part of their statement, either.”
The response to which Cochran is referring came from Janell Ford, a city spokeswoman.
“A member of the City of Killeen’s management staff followed the City of Killeen’s Code of Ordinances, specifically ‘Signs and Outdoor Displays,’ Chapter 31, Section 31-503 (10), which outlines in detail what is allowed without a permit with specific measures and size conditions,” Ford said in a Wednesday email.
Cochran said the city owes him $74.62 to replace three signs he ordered from a Killeen business.
Ford cited Section 31-505 that prohibits signs from being placed and allowed to remain on “public right-of-way or within the visibility triangle at all intersections.”
“That section also states that, ‘signs shall be a minimum of (10) feet from the edge of the street or curb’ and ‘shall not be within (20) feet of the intersection of a street curb and the edge of a driveway,’” Ford said. “Three signs at the location were found to be in violation of the ordinance and removed once discovered. The city attorney, code enforcement director and an executive director confirmed that the signs were not permitted on public property and thoroughly explained this to the requestor.”
Cochran had argued that Irvine claimed he was required to obtain a permit for placing campaign signs near the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
“The city attorney and supervisor reviewing my grievance have totally ignored that the signs were removed initially, as Mr. Irvine said, (because) I needed a permit and they were removed as signs were located on his property,” Cochran told the Herald. “I only inquired about having a permit with the city of Killeen ... on Friday. Later that same afternoon, when Mr. Irvine was confronted that he was incorrect (is) when city of Killeen employees mutually changed the reason why signs were considered illegal and removed. Signs were placed on the public easement — not right of way.”
Cochran said that Councilwoman Nina Cobb invited him to address the council during its March 21 meeting. That is scheduled for 5 p.m. at City Hall, 101 N. College St.
For Place 6, incumbent Don Armstrong and Ernest Wilkerson are running against Cochran. Rex Weaver, the incumbent, is unopposed in Place 7.
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