A 12 inch-by-12 inch sign reading that “Hate Has No Home Here” can stay in the Orchard Green Cluster, Reston’s Design Review Board says, despite the cluster president’s stance that it should be removed for its political nature.
During their meeting Tuesday (video), the DRB rejected an appeal of an August ruling by a three-member panel that the sign is OK for display as long as it is no bigger than one square foot. That came after the Orchard Green Cluster board had asked for a 2 foot-by-3 foot sign displaying the message to be removed.
Tuesday night, Orchard Green Cluster President Dan Pennington told the full DRB that the ruling should not have been made based on the sign’s size, but rather on the political nature of its message. According to Reston Association’s rules for small yard signs, temporary political signs up to 2 feet by 3 feet are allowed to be displayed, but must be removed “no later than one week after announcement of election results.” Orchard Green Cluster’s board voted on the sign, displayed in the yard of resident Rikki Epstein, at their June meeting and “voted to request its removal under the general RA Signs rules.”
“Fundamentally, what you’ve done for our cluster is establish a design guideline that anybody can put up a 12-by-12 [sign], regardless of content [and] regardless of quantity, [with] no limitation and no content issues,” Pennington said to the DRB said. “It’s an untenable standard going forward for our cluster. … I would say it’s a misreading of the rule.”
Pennington suggested that if this sign is allowed to remain indefinitely, another resident could put up numerous one-square-foot signs reading “Trump is President: Get Over It” with each sign displaying only one letter of the message.
“Do you have a limiting principle?” Pennington asked the DRB. “This is a political sign and it should have been adjudicated under the political-sign standard and not the 12-by-12 standard.”
DRB members, along with their legal counsel Wil Washington, said there was no misreading of the rule when the panel informed Epstein she could display a 12- by 12-inch version of the sign, as the size rule overrides the political rule. They also said Pennington’s example of numerous signs with one letter each was hyperbolic, as the rules refer to “the sign” in the singular form.
“The content [of the sign] is irrelevant — the regulations say what they say,” said Nick Georgas, landscape architect member of the DRB. “I don’t think it’s this board’s job to determine what the content of that one-square-foot sign is.”
Pennington said his cluster board is working to pass its own rule that signs of any kind not be allowed, except for home-security signs and “other minor exceptions.”
“We simply don’t want signs in our cluster,” Pennington said.
Image via Hate Has No Home Here website
Rikki Epstein, of the 11400 block of Orchard Green Court, went before a panel of Reston’s Design Review Board on Tuesday evening to appeal a ruling by her cluster association that her 24-by-18-inch sign was not appropriate for display in her yard.
Dan Pennington, president of the Orchard Green Cluster Association, provided an official written statement as an affected party in the case, saying the sign should not be permitted “based on the clear definitions of Political Signs and what is permitted under RA rules.”
[Epstein] is applying to have a Political Sign displayed on her property. The nature of the impasse is her belief that it is a general sign and not a political one.
As the cluster board we reviewed this issue at our most recent board meeting in June. We voted to request its removal under the general RA Signs rules.
The resident in question also confirmed that this sign was given to her by the Democratic Party at one of the Reston Farmer’s Market this year.
A cursory review of the sign’s web site and underlying organization clearly reveals a political bias despite lip service to the contrary.
The DRB panel denied Epstein’s request to overrule the cluster association and allow placement of the sign, she said, on the basis of its size. Reston Association’s rules for small yard signs say they must be no bigger than one square foot in size to be displayed without a permit. The size of Epstein’s sign is the standard size distributed by the Hate Has No Home Here project.
Temporary political signs, up to 2-by-3 feet, are allowed by RA to be displayed in support of candidates or ballot issues, but must be removed “no later than one week after announcement of election results.” Epstein contends her sign is “clearly not a political sign,” but rather “promotes just and inclusive communities.” She says she intends to appeal the decision to the full Design Review Board for review and consideration, and she will be obtaining a one-square-foot version of the sign to display in the meantime.
In her official statement to the DRB panel, she said:
In Reston, the “Hate Has No Home Here” signs have been distributed at numerous locations including the Lake Anne Farmers Market, as well as at local businesses throughout our community and are available for any individual or group to download the artwork for free. In light of the recent tragic hate crime that occurred nearby, it is more important than ever that our community demonstrates our support for one another and ensures that everyone feels safe.
According to “Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA,” a video project, our founder Robert Simon dreamed of “another way of living” that valued community, nature, diversity and social equity. This innovative American planner set out to build a new kind of walkable suburban community that integrated citizens across racial, economic and religious divides. I have to believe that Robert Simon would embrace the “Hate Has No Home Here” project.
“Today I feel disappointed to be a resident of Reston,” she said in an email.
Image via Hate Has No Home Here website