Giant, inflatable Frosty the snowman loses Lenoir zoning request

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 08:33 PM

Frosty the giant, inflatable snowman will not be back on Christmas Day.

The Lenoir Board of Adjustment unanimously rejected Monday night a request by Larry Smith, who erected the two-story Frosty last fall to draw attention to his Christmas tree lot at the corner of Mulberry Street and Morganton Boulevard, to ease portions of the city’s sign ordinance.

Smith argued for leniency because if his 35-foot-tall Frosty violated the terms of the sign ordinance, then so do a number of other signs and displays around town, including seasonal decorations on top of a Bernhardt furniture building.

“I’m not the only one that’s not in compliance,” he said.

Board member Lucy McCarl summed up the board’s skepticism about that and other of Smith’s arguments.

“We have made repeated attempts to address, for lack of a better word, clutter and other things used to grab the public’s attention,” she said. “This is not really in furtherance of that goal.”

Smith’s lawyer, Joe Delk III, had argued that Frosty did not fit the strict definition of a sign covered by the ordinance.

“Our contention is it’s not a sign. It is an item,” he said. “A sign by its very nature has some writing on it that identifies what it is advertising.”

That argument eventually got a frosty response from McCarl.

“Just because it doesn’t have words on it doesn’t mean it’s not a sign,” she said, citing the well recognized golden arches of McDonald’s as an example. “The point of your Frosty is to attract people to your business.”

Smith said after the meeting that his tree lot will return this fall as the holidays approach, but without a supersized Frosty unless the city amends its ordinance or begins to issue temporary permits for such displays, as Delk suggested the city should do.

As for the money that Smith received in the form of donations from people sympathetic to his fight against city hall – Smith it totaled a little over $933 – he said he’ll use it to help pay his fine. At $50 for every day he remained in violation after being cited Nov. 21, Smith said the fine comes to about $1,500.