Sign law on Isle of Palms too subjective, businessman complains
ISLE OF PALMS — Businessman Dennis Samuelson told City Council on Tuesday night that he felt singled out for punishment under a sign ordinance he said was arbitrarily enforced.
“In my opinion, the ordinance as written is far too subjective and it shouldn’t be up to the whims of government to determine who they want to pursue as violators,” he said.
Samuelson, owner of Carolina Coastal Properties LLC, said the city told him last week that he faced a $1,000-per-day fine unless he moved a company car away from the boulevard. Or he could turn it around so an advertisement on the rear window faced away from the road, he said.
“I’d like to think that I’m a pretty nice guy, but at the same time I have to stand up for what I believe to be correct,” he told council.
Samuelson spoke to council at its monthly meeting during a time reserved for public comment on any issue. Later, when the sign ordinance came up for discussion as an agenda item, Mayor Dick Cronin directed the city attorney to review the issue and see how other communities handle such situations. He noted that, up until now, the ordinance has served the city well. “Let’s take a look at it,” Cronin said.
Any proposed changes to the sign ordinance would first go to the Planning Commission for review, said City Administrator Linda Tucker.
After the meeting, Samuelson said he was disappointed.
“That kind of went nowhere. I still don’t know if I’m a criminal or not. I’m just going to give it some thought and figure out what I’m going to do,” he said.
Samuelson said he continues to park his car with the rear window facing away from Palm Boulevard to avoid the hefty fine.
At issue is the question of whether advertising on the rear window of Samuelson’s car is an unauthorized billboard for his business if the car is parked next to Palm Boulevard with its backside facing the road.
The car, leased within the past year, is used for business-related transportation. It has traveled more than 2,200 miles, mostly on the island. It is not “planted” at the location for advertising purposes, he said. He noted that the island has many businesses with logos on their vehicles. Samuelson has a lease for the parking lot that provides him the right to park where he likes, he said.
Samuelson said the issue is rightly handled as a matter between a landlord and tenant. “I would like the city to acknowledge that I and other businesses have the right to park our cars anywhere in our lots and in any manner we see fit as long as it is in keeping with our lease,” he said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.