The number of Hatteras Island businesses with illegal signs has been significantly reduced by Dare County’s push this year to enforce its sign ordinance.
According to Donna Creef, county planning director, the number of businesses with illegal temporary signs in unincorporated Dare, such as sandwich boards or magnetic letter boards, is down to about 20, most of them on Hatteras Island.
Non-complying businesses have been receiving letters from the planning department since February, reminding them of the sign ordinance, and the department has done several surveys and followed up with letters to those who still have illegal signs.
The last round of letters went out in late August, threatening the businesses with legal action if their illegal signs were not gone by Sept. 10.
The planning department did another survey last week, which found that only 20 still had not removed the illegal signs.
She said she has already corresponded or talked with owners of several of those businesses who have plans to incorporate their temporary signs into the permanent signage that is allowed under the ordinance.
Creef added that she is encouraged with the voluntary compliance thus far.
“We are very, very pleased with the way the highway looks,” she said this week.
Therefore, she said she is not going to send the names of any businesses to the county attorney for legal action at this time, but will instead work individually with the owners to help them come into compliance.
Creef emphasizes that the county does intend to enforce the ordinance and stiff fines could be in the future for businesses who do not eventually comply.
She also said the county is appreciative of all the businesses that have complied.
The county’s new emphasis on enforcing the ordinance after many years of doing nothing has angered many business owners.
“While the removal of the sandwich board signs may seem minor to you, the county attorney, and the planning staff, these signs draw customers off the road and into our shops,” Tony McGowan, owner of the Beacon Shops in Hatteras village, wrote to Warren Judge, chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners. “They do it so effectively that their removal will threaten the viability of some businesses.”
McGowan is urging the county to reconsider the ordinance, which has been on the books since 1975 and was most recently updated in 2003.
“If you have waited 10 years to implement a now out-dated ordinance,” McGowan wrote, “surely you can stall its enforcement while it is being revised and updated to match the environment and community in today’s reality. I understand it is a lot of work to redo this ordinance, but it is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Creef said that she really wants to work with businesses to help them come into compliance with the ordinance and still have the signage they think they need. She urged business owners to contact her at 252-475-5873 or e-mail her at [email protected]
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information go to:
Dare County sign ordinance at http://www.darenc.com/planning/Chapter158.pdf
An editor’s blog from earlier this month about the current crackdown on the sign ordinance:http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/?e=205#body-anchor