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Opinion: Cape council should review sign law

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

By Dru Reeves and Glenn Reeves

The Cape Girardeau City Council has enacted a restrictive sign ordinance that is detrimental to business in Cape Girardeau. The original ordinance was not enforced, and the council created a more restrictive law.

According to statements by council members, the ordinance was carefully created over a full year of council work plus meeting by an appointed committee from all levels of expertise who provided input.

Our first notification was a letter we received April 3 on the day of the third and final reading of the new ordinance. During that meeting, we pointed out that many not-for-profit organizations have signs as the only way to advertise their fund-raisers. TV, radio and newspapers are expensive for small businesses and not-for-profits. This obvious fact was overlooked by all the numerous reviews, study sessions and committee meetings.

Our council tabled the final reading of the ordinance until April 17 when it was approved, exempting not-for-profit organizations but not satisfying the concerns of small businesses. Small businesses in Cape Girardeau employ 50 to 60 percent of our private work force and make a large percent of donations to our charitable organizations.

This new ordinance restricts the size of permanent signage on the buildings that house our businesses and even eliminates the use of properly displayed banners for short-term announcements or special promotions.

Expensive signage is not affordable for small businesses. As an example, Jefferson City, Mo., has an ordinance that requires tasteful signage and limits banners to 30 days during a special announcement or promotion. This is a logical policy. No one wants our great city to look like an unregulated flea market.

Our mayor stated at the April 17 council meeting that "signage is insignificant to the profit margins of most businesses." We strongly disagree. Any objective study will arrive at the exact opposite conclusion. As one example, we refer any interested person to the Small Business Administration's Web site: www.sba.gov/starting/signage/index.html. It includes the statement that "signs are the most effective, yet least expensive, form of advertising for the small business."

Signs are always on the job for your, advertising 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We feel the city council should carefully review this unfair ordinance.

Dru Reeves and Glenn Reeves operate Horizon Screen Printing in Cape Girardeau.


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