Second Hampshire County condominium adopts free speech rule

Following ACLU action, residents of Hampshire Village Condominium in Amherst will be able to post political and other signs in support of candidates and causes. Prompted by legal analysis provided by the ACLU of Massachusetts and following a favorable vote by residents, the rule change was today filed with the Master Deed at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. 

“The right to express political opinions, particularly from one’s own home, has been a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Bill Newman, an attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Western Massachusetts office. “We deeply appreciate the Hampshire Village trustees and residents recognizing the importance of the fundamental right to speech.” 

The new rule follows several related ACLU victories for free speech: In January 2021, the Hampshire Superior Court ordered a Belchertown condominium development to allow residents to post signs at their units, citing the free speech provision of the state constitution. In 2019, a federal district court permanently blocked the City of Holyoke from enforcing its unconstitutional ordinance prohibiting “temporary” lawn signs on private property in the city during three months of the year and prohibiting bumper stickers all year round. Plymouth recently agreed to stop enforcing similar ordinances following ACLU action

According to the new Hampshire Village rule, “All Unit Owners have a right to display a non-commercial posting (e.g., a sign, flag, banner, or other decoration), including a posting of a political, religious, moral, cultural, or scientific nature, or one that otherwise contributes to the free marketplace of ideas. A posting shall not exceed twenty (20) inches by thirty (30) inches and may be placed, at the Unit Owner’s discretion, in the garden bed which is adjacent to a Unit Owner’s building, or on a Unit Owner’s front door or its frame, or in a Unit Owner’s window.” 

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