The abuses of power by the government, resulting in the infringement, restriction and destruction of our liberty and freedom, cast a somber tone over the mood of the day.
Major attacks on our rights by our federal government have given each of us pause to consider how highly we really value the freedoms for which so many paid such a high price. The government has historically tried to push its power and it has been the will of the people that has held it in check. It seems the people have not been doing their job. The overzealous government keeps hacking away at our freedom, while we sit complacently, doing nothing.
Make no mistake. The abuse of power and erosion of our rights is alive and well in Cobb County. We have a set of uniquely oppressive, restrictive and unnecessary sign ordinances. If you think I am exaggerating, consider this. If you own a business and you have the name of that business shown on your vehicle, you cannot park that vehicle, on your own parking lot within 52 feet of the center of the road, because that vehicle is considered a sign.
Such things as tents, inflatable devices, banners and streamers are covered in the sign ordinances. The biggest shocker, though, was that American flags cannot be displayed within 52 feet of the center of the road, as I read the ordinance.
I am involved in researching the sign ordinances because a local business came under attack by an “anonymous” person, or group of people, resulting in regular visits from Code Enforcement Officers investigating complaints from “anonymous.” (“Anonymous” is what they call you when you lack the backbone to sign your name.)
Several Saturdays ago this business had a sale in their parking lot. They erected a vinyl tent, about six feet square at the back of the parking lot, along with an inflatable jumping device for youngsters. They put up banners, and moved some merchandise out to the parking lot.
This firm historically displays two American flags, one on a pole and the other in the window of the store. This day they also erected several at the front of the parking lot, adjacent to the sidewalk.
They were cited, or given warnings, for almost everything they did that day, because of a complaint by “anonymous.” They say they were told that the American flags were a violation, though no official notice was given. Presumably the violation was that they were within 52 feet of the center of the road. They were further told that if they put them up again they would be citied.
When I inquired about this I was told that the investigations were conducted within the scope of the code. Re-reading of the code confirmed this. I was also told that they could display the flags, which flies in the face of what they presumably told the business. Three management people, at three different times, told me they had been told they could not display the flags.
It is obviously time these ordinances were reviewed. By what logic, other than possible driver distraction, does the county presume to control what kind of advertising a business does on its own property? The driver distraction argument does not hold water, since electronic signs, with changing messages, are allowed, along the side of the street. How distracting is that?
Ordinances controlling building are necessary, as are zoning ordinances, and I agree that a modicum of control as to size and content may be necessary, with relation to signs/advertising, but when such control infringes upon the rights of an owner to use and control his own property, it becomes oppressive and unacceptable.
The same is true of any law that prohibits displaying any number of American flags anywhere on one’s property, at any time, if, indeed, there is such an ordinance.
I have already communicated my concerns to County Commissioner Bob Ott. I am requesting that he head an initiative to review and revise the excessively restrictive sign ordinances. I strongly suggest that residents and particularly business owners obtain a copy and read these ordinances, then judge for themselves.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.