Judge rules Saugatuck signage rules as unconstitutional

Posted at 9:13 AM, Sep 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-06 09:13:55-04

SAUGATUCK, Mich. – The controversy over the art sculpture on 790 Lake St. may be over.

Homeowners John Porzondek and Bryan Serman represented themselves in Allegan County District Court on Thursday. Judge Joseph Skocelas ruled the City of Saugatuck’s signage rules unconstitutional, and called the rules “censorship.”

“The judge said, ‘if you wanted to Mr. Porzondek, you are free to put 100 signs, or more, on your lawn,'” said Porzondek.

As FOX 17 reported, on July 9, the City of Saugatuck cited Porzondek for violating an ordinance regarding the number of “excessive opinion signs” displayed on their front lawn’s sculpture. When Porzondek refused to remove the signs, the City took him to court.

“The larger issue here is other cities, such as Warren and Troy, Michigan, also had opinion sign limitations that were overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court,” said Porzondek.

Porzondek told FOX 17 this has been an ongoing battle for he and Serman since 2009, when the City ordered their second story awning to be removed. City officials said their awning violated Historic District Commission guidelines, as well as an ordinance homeowners said was meant for commercial zoning, and not their home.

“I feel that City Council here in Saugatuck places a lot of blind trust in their appointed subordinates,” said Serman.

Homeowners said the City inappropriately zoned their home as commercial several years ago, and said they rent out two apartments within the home. They said they fought to have their zoning changed back to residential, but had already removed their awning.

“I think we’ve made our point, we’ve won the case, and we will now move forward and look for other avenues, and look to State Historic Board to help us, protect our home, once again, with our awning,” said Porzondek.

Saugatuck City officials said they are working with their attorney to determine whether or not they will appeal Judge Skocela’s decision.

Porzondek said he will be running for Saugatuck City Council in November.