Crisfield Businesses Petition City's Flashing Sign Ordinance - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Crisfield Businesses Petition City's Flashing Sign Ordinance

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CRISFIELD, Md. – Just a few weeks after John Dize, owner of Crisfield Computer Store bought a $190 flashing "OPEN" sign, he was reportedly told by the city inspector it had to be turned off.

"We're just talking about a sign that says OPEN, there is not anything fancy about it," says Dize. "It simply blinks on and off to get people's attention."

The city of Crisfield has a long-standing law that forbids flashing signs. Dize says that apparently twelve other stores across Crisfield have been asked to turn off their signs.

"We just want people to know we're open and give people a way to notice us," says Dize. "It will catch your eye if it's moving, it won't if it's just standing still."

Dize says that City Inspector Noah Bradshaw gave him a letter citing the violation and the penalties that go along with the citation if the law is not complied with. This includes a fine of $500 and/or 90 days in jail.

"That's up to a year and a half in jail if we keep it on for a week," says Dize. "I just think it's silly that would even be posted in this ordinance."

Now, Dize has started a petition to amend the ordinance so that "OPEN" signs are allowed to flash. As of Tuesday afternoon he had 56 signatures, and hopes to get to have 150 by Wednesday night. The change could help many businesses, like Blue Crab Café, still struggling from Superstorm Sandy damage.

 "If we don't have an open sign that they can see at night they'll drive by and think were closed," says Dave Marquis, co-owner at Blue Crab Café.

"Most of the Western Shore thinks we're still closed due to the hurricane, so it's almost imperative to use any means necessary to show that were open," says Carolyn Marquis, co-owner at Blue Crab Café. "It can be very frustrating when you're trying to do all you can to keep a business alive."

The Marquis' say they had their sign up for three years, but were just told it could not flash last week, and filing an appeal can cost $400.

"For a sign! It just doesn't make sense," says Carolyn. "It's probably cheaper to just turn off the sign."

In the meantime, Dize and the Marquis' say they are complying with the law. Dize says he was originally on the agenda for the city council meeting tomorrow, and has since been removed, but was still invited by the mayor to be a part of their discussion on the ordinance.

WMDT made numerous attempts to reach out to the city inspector and other city leaders regarding the ordinance, and are still waiting for a call back.

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