A Wellesley College professor and poetry critic for the New Yorker won a freedom of speech spat with the Town of Wellesley over a large “Impeach Trump” sign hung on the front of his house.
Town officials initially threatened to fine Dan Chiasson $300 for every day that his 12-foot-long banner hung from the second floor of his home, claiming that it violated town bylaws that limit signs to a size of 6 square feet, which cannot be posted “higher than 3 feet above grade.”
Chiasson originally put up the banner in Jane 2018 but removed it for the November midterm election. However, he received a letter from the town requiring him to remove the banner on January 28, but have since announced that they will reconsider the bylaw rather than take the professor to task.
He claimed that his political yard signs had been vandalized or removed in the past, so a customized banner would have to do.
“If I had been told to take down a sign that says, you know, ‘Go Wellesley Raiders,’ or a sign advertising an open house at a private school, I wouldn’t have any trouble taking the sign down,” Chiasson told Boston.com.
Allegedly, town officials said that they had received complaints from neighbors over the banner, but ultimately decided that they would review the 2014 town bylaw instead. “The town of Wellesley, through its building inspector, will rescind the violation notice served upon Mr. Chiasson regarding a violation of section 22A (signs) of the town’s zoning bylaw,” Town spokeswoman Stephanie Hawkinson told the Boston Herald on Thursday.
“The town appreciates Mr. Chiasson’s response to the notice and is prepared to review its bylaw to ensure that it complies with recent federal court decisions on political signs.” Chiasson tweeted, “I think it’s a really rational and wise decision on the part of the town, and I thank them.”