Oak Ridge business owner confused over electric sign ordinance

11:43 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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An Oak Ridge business owner said he wants to use a digital sign to show off his Christmas spirit -- but city leaders said some displays are distracting, and illegal.

"I have a permit for it; it's been authorized by the city, never any complaints," Rivers Total Car Care owner Tony Stevens said about his electronic, scrolling sign off Oak Ridge Turnpike.

He said he was about to put an animated image of Santa Claus on the sign, when he received a letter from the city of Oak Ridge stating he had violated a sign ordinance in the city. The letter stated the rules are "the moving copy sign display does not exhibit any movement or flashing light within individual displays."

The letter added "no sign shall have blinking, flashing, or fluttering lights or other illuminating device..."

However, he said he was confused over what that specific violation was since the electronic placard was on display for more than seven years.

"I'm still unclear about what I'm supposed to do? What my sign is supposed to do? Why I can't put Santa on my sign? We've always done that in the past," he claimed.

Instead of Santa, Stevens is displaying a message to passing by drivers, asking them to call city hall over the confusion of the sign ordinance.

"We got a lot of money invested in the sign. It is our form of advertising. It's how we draw customers into our business," Stevens said.

Some customers at the auto body shop did not see the problems with the display.

"There's not a lot of room for holiday decorations, so this is a great way to express the holiday spirit," said Dee Dee Watkins.

Oak Ridge leaders did not comment for our story, but Stevens said they should focus on other issues.

"It's kind of silly-- we could be addressing a lot of other things rather than animated signs," he said.

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