Sunday, February 29, 2004

Citation to Crumpton’s withdrawn; new ordinance made retroactive


Not only can the “God bless America” banner stay up, but Fayetteville city officials have withdrawn the citation that had been issued to the furniture store owner who declined to take it down.

The city will also display its own super-sized “Fayetteville Celebrates America” banner at the front of City Hall.

At a special meeting Thursday, the city council unanimously approved a temporary sign ordinance that allows businesses and home owners to display non-commercial banners until Sept. 11 with a special permit. The ordinance was made retroactive so the city could withdraw the citation, said City Manager Joe Morton.

Not only is the city going to allow non-commercial banners until Sept. 11, but it is undertaking a campaign called “Fayetteville Celebrates America” to enhance patriotism while remembering the men and women overseas fighting the war on terrorism.

The campaign was the idea of Fayetteville real estate broker Lane Brown, who sold the city on the campaign, which will wrap up at the concert of country artist Sara Evans at the Villages Amphitheater Sept. 11 in what is expected to be a very patriotic show.

Eddie Crumpton of Crumpton’s Furniture was issued the ticket in January after another person complained about the “God bless America” banner when a city officials asked that person to take down a temporary sign. The sign, which was 40 sq. ft. larger than allowed and technically should have been up for a maximum of 60 total days went up immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Ronnie Crumpton, who runs the store with his brother, said he was overwhelmed by the city’s plan to make the issue into a campaign to increase patriotism in the area.

“It’s more than anybody could ever have hoped for,” Crumpton said. “I think it’s great the city will do this to support the troops.”

Crumpton lauded the city’s leadership on the issue and said he never intended to do anything to hurt the city. He also said the campaign encouraging businesses and homeowners to erect patriotic signs “will be a lot of fun.”

“It’s very gratifying that something like this can come from standing up for the people who are over there now,” he said.

The store had received numerous calls and faxes in support of its stance to leave the banner up after the citation was issued. Some city officials felt the city was vilified for its actions, despite the fact that the banner remained up for over two years until someone complained about it.

Mayor Ken Steele said he was excited about the campaign and he looked forward to getting more input from the public on special events and local businesses stepping forward to help the celebration.

“I think it’s a good idea to revitalize a sense of patriotism periodically,” Steele said. “We want what’s best for the City of Fayetteville both short term and long term. We have a great community here in Fayetteville.”

Steele said he never doubted there would be a reasonable resolution to the differences between the city and Crumpton’s Furniture. He just wasn’t sure what it was.

That’s where Brown came in. Brown said the idea came to him after he watched the issue covered on the Fox News Channel show “Hannity and Colmes.” He felt Fayetteville officials were made out to be the villains of the story even though they were just enforcing the sign ordinance on the books.

He also didn’t want the rest of the country thinking Fayetteville was anti-God and anti-patriotism.

Brown envisions all the businesses near Crumpton’s on Ga. Highway 85 having patriotic banners.

“Maybe people would see than and say, ‘Hey, Fayetteville’s trying to say something,’” Brown said.

The city plans to tie the patriotism campaign into the Memorial Day concert with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra as well as a four-day celebration in July.

The Crumptons and Brown have agreed to serve on the committee that will steer the patriotism campaign. The city wants to add a cross section of individuals representing businesses, individual citizens, service organizations, churches, schools and others to develop the action plan.

The temporary sign ordinance lasts through Sept. 11. It allows businesses to erect non-commercial signs up to 100 sq. ft. and homeowners to display signs up to 50 sq. ft.

Although the city will still require a permit to be issued for each sign, the permit will be free of charge.

The ordinance was made retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, the date of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania when several commercial airline flights were turned into missiles aimed at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

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