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City manager: Dispute over political sign only about the property line

 

FRANK TAYLOR

Managing Editor

 

A Lincolnton couple is claiming a city official who happens to be their neighbor gave them a hard time this week over their choice of political signs, but others are saying that’s not what happened.

That neighbor, City Manager Jeff Emory, told the Times-News on Thursday that his only issue was with the placement of the sign in what appeared to be his yard.

The issue became public knowledge after Shelly  Scronce issued a letter to area media late Tuesday regarding the dispute she and her husband had with Emory.

Although Scronce said her letter was intended as a news tip, one website, The Carolina Scoop, posted it online without contacting them or asking any questions.

The Times-News has interviewed Scronce, Emory and another neighbor, Doug Smith, whom Scronce identified as a credible witness.

However, Smith said he couldn’t support her account and believes the Scronces have blown the issue out of proportion. He said he’s lived near Emory for many years and always found him to be a good neighbor.

According to both Scronce and Emory, they had recently engaged in a polite discussion about who should maintain a hedgerow near the property line. Shortly afterward, the Scronces put up a political sign supporting Mitt Romney for president. According to her, the sign was clearly on their side of the line. But Emory has said it was placed in such a way that it appeared to be on his side.

Emory said he asked them to move the sign because as a city official he doesn’t want to appear involved in partisan politics and has never placed political signs in his yard, something that Smith also corroborated.

While Scronce wrote that Emory was “rude” and told the Times-News that he was “screaming” at her and her husband, both Emory and Smith disputed this. Emory said he calmly asked them to move the sign and explained his reason.

Emory told the Times-News that his objection was entirely with the placement of the sign on or near his property and not as Scronce has claimed, with their choice of candidate. He noted that they had other signs in the middle of their yard to which he had no objection.

“If that had been a Barack Obama sign, I would have done the same thing,” he said.

 

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