Wilmington City Council suspends enforcement of sign ordinance for 30 days
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington sign ordinance has drawn a lot of attention recently as violation notifications have started hitting businesses. Now some Wilmington City Council members are rethinking their positions on that ordinance.

City Council voted Tuesday night to suspend enforcement of its sign ordinance for 30 days.

That will give business owners time to voice their complaints and council time to make any changes to the ordinance if necessary.

"We're listening to the citizens," said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. "We want to hear what they have to say. We're going to go back out there and take a look at this thing and hopefully come up with something that makes sense."

The ordinance was adopted in 2008 but many retailers just became aware of it after receiving tickets.

"A lot of people were very upset when they received violation notices," said Chris Andrews, a representative of the Downtown Business Alliance. "(Business owners) realized the impact that it could potentially have on their business, being able to promote their business."

For merchants the big issue with the ordinance is that only 10% of their windows can be covered. Many of them argue that hurts the effectiveness of store advertising.

If after 30 days time the council deems it necessary, they could alter the ordinance and up that percentage.

Mayor Bill Saffo says they will revisit the issue but that downtown does have an improved look.

"There was a lot of old posters, there was a lot of old signs that had been up in some windows for quite some time according to what some of our staff had shared with us, but it does look better," said Saffo.

Some members of City Council were concerned that downtown will have a cluttered look if too many posters are allowed.

In the end they decided they will need to hear more from stake holders before anything in the ordinance is changed.

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Does the sign ordinance apply only to downtown businesses or all businesses within the City limits? If it's City-wide, then Food Lion would be out of compliance with the signs they put in their windows advertising weekly specials. Those signs cover far more than 10% of the glass.

I'm not writing to be supportive or critical of the underlying ordinance. The ordinance was adopted with an appropriate majority of City Council votes. The question I wish to raise is who in our municipal government would be responsible to notify the affected parties and how did that process fail?

How far the sign ordinance goes out. What matters is that city council ought to keep their noses out of business.

Fix the pothole in front of Java Dog. fix all the other "real" problems downtown. I am downtown every day and I have heard nobody complain about signs in windows, except the losers on city council.