Signs, Signs, and more Signs

If you have noticed an increase in the number of signs in and around Columbia, you are not alone. Regulating sign clutter can be difficult as the courts have ruled that posting signs is a first amendment right. However, restrictions may apply in certain situations.

Howard County’s Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits (DILP) is responsible for enforcing the county sign code. The court rulings have prompted the county to change its enforcement of certain aspects of the code. For political signs, DILP will not enforce the size, number, or length of time signs can be located on private property. Political signs on public property, such as the county right-of-way are not permitted and will be removed and discarded.

If you see signs in the county right-of-way, you may file a complaint directly with the county via your mobile phone using the Tell HoCo app, online at or you may visit the county website at

Hickory Ridge Community Association does have an Architectural Guideline for signs. The placement of all signs must be in compliance with Howard County Sign Ordinance. Signs should be neatly lettered, clean, have a professional appearance and be maintained in good condition. An application is required for all signs, except for temporary signs as outlined below:

  • Rental or sale of residential property. Signs indicating that a property has been SOLD or CONTRACT PENDING are not permitted.
  • Garage sale signs may be put up on the day of the event and must be taken down within 24 hours following the sale.
  • Candidate’s political signs must be placed in accordance to Howard County’s guidelines for size and time limits.

For more information on the county sign code, you may contact Howard County Inspections and Enforcement Division at 410-313-1823.

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