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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Less than a week after Flip’s Bar-B-Que took down its half-century-old sign to comply with a city ordinance, the small business is facing another issue with the city.

“On Tuesday, I get a call from the Zoning Department asking me if I had a permit to take my sign down,” said Flip’s Bar-B-Que owner Bob Church.

Church says a city code enforcement officer told him he needed clearance to remove the sign. Church says he’s confused.

“I had to pay to have the sign taken down, and they made me take the sign down, so therefore I don’t know where they’re coming from,” Church said.

Church says he cannot believe the city is finding another reason to penalize his small business.

“The amount of stress I’ve been under for the last two weeks has been crazy,” he said. “Like the president said last night (and) Gov. Romney: small businesses need to get the country going, and here they are beating the daylights out of us trying to ruin us, and I don’t understand that. What’s going on?”

We spoke with the company that removed the sign Friday. A representative said he has taken down many signs because of the ordinance and has never heard of having to have a permit to do the work.

We tried to contact the code enforcement officer and other representatives with the city, but they have not called us back with any answers.

Last week more than 1,000 people voted in an unscientific online poll on our website. Ninety-one percent of them said Flip’s should not have had to take down its sign.


Comment on this Story

  • Wilmington Observer

    Whereas I think that it was disgraceful for the owner to be told that he had to have a permit to remove a sign that he was ordered to remove, I find it, equally, disgraceful to suggest that a bribe (or lack thereof) was involved. That is, unless, you have proof of such practices here, in Wilmington.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Malkiel_kol_hakavod_la_el

    I am a former northerner been in our great State 6 years… Just so ya know most of us hate this type of crap thus why we left the north….

  • Thomas

    I agree with that. If you don’t like the way things are done down here, don’t move here. We seem to be having the same problem in Carteret County. It is surprising that the boards of the towns, cities and counties seem to think the people here don’t know what is needed. They need leaders in those positions not planners. And why wasn’t that sign ‘Grandfathered’? If it hasn’t been destroyed maybe it can be put back as a historical thing.

  • Wilmington Observer

    Did WWAY do their due diligence by visiting the Zoning Department and ask if they, actually, made contact with Mr. Church regarding a “Sign Removal Permit” or did they just report what Mr. Church told them?

    Wilmington Observer

  • Wilmington Observer

    Unfortunately, the politicians in Raleigh made this practice legal in August of 2011. The N.C. General Assembly enacted into law Senate Bill 315, which permits placement of campaign signs on the rights-of-way of state-maintained roads even if those roads are in towns with sign ordinances that would prohibit, or control size or placement of the signs.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Guest211


  • Guest09876

    According to their ordinances – http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=14101 – Do a search for 18-50

    A building permit is required for “The installation, alteration or repair of any sign”. Technically, you need a permit even to replace a light bulb in a sign. The fact that the sign company has no idea of this means it’s not typically enforced. The code enforcement guy is playing hardball with this guy because he missed a protection payment or something.

    The sign ordinance:


  • Guest 10101

    Every time anything goes wrong here someone like you crawls out from under a rock and blames it on someone from the North.

    – If ALL of “those” people are getting the planning and enforcement jobs … PROVE IT!
    – If Wilmington’s laws are actually “Yankee laws” brought to Wilmington from elsewhere … PROVE IT!

    You can’t, because that just doesn’t even begin to make any sense at all much less involve the common sense you say is what works instead of law here (which also makes no sense).

    About the only thing that’s making any sense at all is that Wilmington, just like any other town in America, has some some problems that you, personally, have no idea on how to fix. Instead of putting on a pair of big-boy pants and looking for a local solution to a local problem, your solution is to blame someone from somewhere else. Gee, that’ll sure fix the problem.

    Too bad you’ll never be smart enough to realize that your infantile response to a LOCAL problem makes everyone HERE look worse instead of better.

    Considering what you’ve posted, I find your astounding lack of any common sense at all to be totally ironic.

  • Guest2369

    Im getting tired of all these northerners moving down here and getting city jobs like planners and code enforcement jobs and bringing their yankee laws with them. They make work there, but not here where we use common sense. I would like to see what damage the sign has caused the citizens of wilmington. Was it really a public safety issue? Or a way for the town to get a little extra cash?

  • Guest55

    Mr. Berger is a New Hanover County Commissioner.

    This code enforcement matter is between Flips and the City of Wilmington.

    These are 2 different jurisdictions.

  • John Henry

    I think I might go around town and take some COW signs Today and btw if you “work” for city code enforcement, I hate you.

  • GuestPointy

    Brilliant comment. Except for one thing….this is in the city of Wilmington, not the county.

    hahahaha @ captsundrop

  • Guester

    What would a city fee have to do with a county commissioner’s debt?

  • Glad I’m not you

    Wow, thats a bit much. Doesn’t that take some efort on your part? How much effort have you invested in your community? I am betting none.

  • jj

    The Sign has been up longer that the council members have lived in the area. It should have been Grandfather in and that should be the end of it.

    The City told him to take it down. That was his permit right there… Case closed.

    Now the real issue why isn’t the code enforcer doing something about all the political signs that are on the road right away that is against the code? Clean that up and you might have a case. If it was me I would take some pictures along the road and sue the Sh-T out of the city for selective prosecution and harassment. When he does I hope I can sit on the jury…

  • guesty

    Why would the city care about a county commissioners debt?

  • Ehawk

    This is your glorious city government at work. Everyone complains but then they don’t show up at the polls to vote these bums out. There is not a single member of the Wilmington city government who deserves to be re-elected. Wake up and vote these bums out! They are killing us and robbing us blind with their corruption, over taxation, and over regulation.

  • Truthseeker

    This is just another example of Saffo’s City government employees run amok. These idiots need to leave the man alone. His sign was bothering no one but some incompetent moronic city employee. Yea build a 60 million dollar stadium at taxpayer’s expense then run a man out of business. Elections not far off and you bungling politicians are going to pay!

  • Guest1

    I thank god I dont live in wilmington, what a frigging JOKE. I would be ashamed to tell anyone I resided in that pathetic excuse for a town…….and crap like this is why.

  • RSimmons

    Code enforcement doesn’t call you by phone to inform you of a violation. They show up in person first and formally cite you in writing either on the spot or by mail. I suspect that Bob may not be the sharpest tool in the shed.

  • Guest 2012

    This is a classic example of what is wrong with our society. The problem extends from local government to the highest federal branches. Its called
    Common Sense!!! Lack of it is contagious.P

  • B M

    People until the state of NC overcomes 140 plus years of Democratic control nobody is safe from the heavy hand of big brother, as long as you want to live under Saffo, McIntyre, Perdue,Obama dictated lifestyles a small business owners sign is the least of our concerns, yet it is probably one of the biggest deterrents to how we really want to live our lives, dang I sure like good bbq!

  • roger reed

    seriously, leave him alone. that’s absolutely ridiculous. you forced the man to take down a sign that was there before the city. how are business supposed to make money for the city to tax if they keep running them out of business. counter productive.

  • captsundrop

    to mays laws ……no one knows how to enforce them……hahahhah @ county govt.

  • Phillyguy

    What these numbskulls seem to forget is that when flips put up the sign in the 60’s it was not in or near the city limits of Wilmington. I think the line was either at College Road or Near Hanover Center. Flips was out in the country on the beach road. He should have been grandfathered in. Why is our city becoming so petty. Don’t Saffo and the other morons running the city have anything better to do than trying to stick it to the little guy.

  • OtherGuest

    Maybe the city figured it could use the permit fee or fine to make up for the amount forgiven on Mr. Berger’s debt.

  • STAR

    City of Wilmington get a grip….and fix 3rd street

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