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After 50 years, Flip's sign is gone

READ MORE: After 50 years, Flip's sign is gone

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington's sign ordinance is forcing businesses in the Port City to remove signs that do not comply. Today that meant the end of an era for one sign many people say is a Wilmington icon.

After almost 50 years, the city says the iconic Flip's Bar-B-Que sign has to go. The sign on Oleander Drive does not follow city ordinance. After a long appeal, the city told owner Bob Church the sign had to be gone by Monday. Church says he thinks the sign should have been grandfathered in and allowed to stay.

"It's just a landmark," Church said. "It's been here all these years, and people really like it, and they just don't understand why it's coming down."

Church says he has tried to contact city officials to find out what he could do to save the sign, but he did not hear back. The $200-a-day fine for keeping the sign up is not something Church can afford, so he scheduled to have the sign removed.

He says this is just another sign of the times.

"It's just getting harder and harder," Church said. "The taxes are going up, insurance is going up, everything is going up. The cost of living is going up, and it's getting tougher."

As for Flip's patrons, their opinion is simple.

"Leave it up. It's fine," one customer said.

But at 2:30 p.m. Friday, the red logo came down. Church says it was a sad moment for him and Wilmington as a whole, which he says has lost another icon.

He says he hopes to restore the sign to its former glory and put it inside the store.

About an hour after the sign came down, we got a phone call from a city spokesman. He said Church could leave the sign up and apply for historic preservation without being fined. The city says it told Church about this option. Church says the city did not.

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