Frosty beats City Hall
After nearly an hour of deliberation, the Lenoir City Council voted after a public hearing Tuesday night to approve changes to the sign ordinance at the heart of last winter's dispute over a 35-feet-tall inflatable snowman, which came to be known as Frosty, but the council members made changes that will allow that giant snowman to return.
The ordinance as originally proposed would have limited temporary advertising devices such as the inflatable to 20 feet in height and to one 30-day period per calendar year, but after discussion the council members changed that to 35 feet and twice per year.
Larry Smith, whose snowman display at his Mountain Top Fraser Fir lot on Morganton Boulevard set off last winter's controversy, was a little stunned after the vote, which followed $1,400 in fines and months of legal wrangling with the city.
“I don’t really know what to think,” Smith said. “I guess I’m just happy they agreed with what I requested. I guess Frosty will be back.”
The motion to approve the changes passed 4-2, with Councilman Todd Perdue and T.J. Rohr voting against the change.
But Rohr said his vote was based on his opposition to having any advertising restrictions at all. When it comes to advertising for businesses, if residents disapprove of a sign, they should not give that company their business, he said.
“It comes down to personal taste,” Rohr said.
Perdue said that city officials had safety studies to back the proposal to limit displays to 20 feet in height, and changing it to 35 feet was “premature” because it opens additional safety concerns of larger signs that have not been addressed.
Lenoir Planning Director Jenny Wheelock said the proposal to limit displays to 20 feet came from the city’s current limit on permanent advertising signs, set at 20 feet except for signs on the main thoroughfare of U.S. 321, where the limit is 50 feet.
The new ordinance also creates a permitting process for temporary advertising devices, which it defines as any cloth, plastic, paper or similar material used for advertising purposes attached to or appended on or from any structure, staff, pole, line or framing. Examples given are pennants, streamers, pinwheels, windsocks, balloons and other gas-filled structures.