WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The downtown sign showdown continues. Last night Wilmington City Council decided to have staff spend more time on controversial sign regulations that have many downtown businesses in an uproar. But others in the city are finding out that the rule also affects them.
Earlier this year the city tried to enforce a rule passed in 2008 that limits businesses using 10 percent of their windows beginning with downtown. Business owners spoke out against it — prompting the city to suspend enforcement while it takes another look at it. But while much of the attention has been on downtown, the 10-percent rule applies to businesses citywide, including fast food joints and grocery stores.
“I know they got better things to do then worry about stuff like that,” said Riad Hassan, owner of K&D’s Mini Mart on Kerr Avenue.
Hassan says in the six years he has been open the city has been firm with him on his outdoor signs but never on his window space. Hassan admits he was unaware that the same sign rule that has downtown business owners worried would also apply to him.
“This is what we do to bring customers in,” Hassan said. “Like I said this lets people know the prices here compared to other stores. The economy is hurting, so they’re looking for the cheapest prices.”
The city is currently working with downtown business owners to come up with a reasonable agreement on the sign rule. Councilman Ronald Sparks hopes businesses all over the city will give their input, because the rule would eventually affect everyone.
“You start adding up the square footage, and it’s like, ‘Oh they’re across the 10-percent line.’ It seems kind of arbitrary, and you don’t want to put rules like that that are arbitrary,” Sparks said. “We need to take time to meet with the stake holders, make sure they all have buy-in, whatever rule, and make sure they define why we’re doing it.”
City Council is expected to discuss the sign rule again at its next meeting in two weeks.