Join Club

County Employee Targets Signs on Struggling Fillmore Street

The sign police finally caught up with the notorious small business scofflaws of North Fillmore Street yesterday afternoon.

According to Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley, a county zoning employee “randomly” stopped by just before 4:00 p.m. and took her sandwichboard sign.

“This sign cost me over $175!” Buckley wrote in an email shortly after the incident. “I just got a call… telling me he threw it in a dumpster.”

Also gone: the sign for Bakeshop, the cupcake-and-coffee place down the block from Screwtop. See below for the county’s explanation of why the signs were removed.

“I’m a pretty positive and easy going person,” Buckley said. “But with today’s actions I am beginning to wonder what won’t this county do to hurt small businesses?”

Buckley quickly added that the county board has been “great” and are “the only people who ‘get it'” when it comes to the needs of small businesses.

In fact, during July’s three-hour board discussion of sidewalk seating on Fillmore Street, board member Chris Zimmerman emphatically encouraged his county colleagues to be more permissive with signs, especially sandwich board signs. Zimmerman and other board members spoke specifically about using signs to attract more foot traffic to the sleepy portion of North Fillmore Street where Screwtop and Bakeshop reside.

“Each of us on North Fillmore Street has a sandwich board sign to try and attract eyeballs down from Clarendon Boulevard,” Buckley said. “I am always happy to comply with any law, but our little businesses are doing everything we can to survive on this street. I don’t see how our signs, which are out of the way, can hurt anyone.”

Update at 2:15 p.m. — The head of the Arlington County Zoning Office has responded to our story.

Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman says sandwich board signs are prohibited throughout Arlington County. Despite supportive words for the signs at the July board meeting, Artman says board members must take legislative action in order to permit the signs to be placed on county property.

Screwtop was given three warnings about its sign, Artman says. The first was issued on June 10. The last was issued within the past couple weeks, and included a warning citation that the sign was “subject to immediate removal,” according to Artman.

It is a criminal misdemeanor offense to place a sign on public property in Arlington County. Violations are subject to fines up to $2,500. Screwtop has not been fined.

Artman says the county confiscates hundreds of signs per week, but tries to warn business owners first before removing them. 

“Of course we support small business here in Arlington… but the feedback we receive from the community is that sign enforcement is very important to them,” she said.

When a sign is confiscated it’s thrown out, since the zoning office has no storage capacity.

Artman says many businesses, especially in the Ballston area, openly flout the county’s sign regulations. Sign enforcement has become a cat and mouse game; recently inspectors started conducting sign enforcement randomly rather than at set times, because businesses had gotten wise to the inspection schedules. The county now deploys six inspectors on sign enforcement details for three hours each week.

Recent Stories

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…

An explosives detection K-9 celebrated his retirement at Reagan National Airport today. Messi, an 8-year-old yellow lab, was feted this morning in the historic Terminal 1 lobby with a surprise…

Walk to Lee Heights shops from 1930s Tudor on beautiful terraced lot

Arlington’s response team for people in mental health and substance use crises is on track for a substantial buildout. An additional $478,286 in federal funds would allow Arlington to hire…

The Award is available to recent high school graduates and non-traditional students (see the application for more details). Each recipient may be awarded up to $20,000. Applicants are required to submit an online application form as well as a short video application.

The applicant must be an Arlington resident pursuing a career or technical education accredited program, within a high-growth career, that will be completed within two years.

The careers and programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Audio, Video, and Sound Engineering Technicians

  • Broadcast Technicians

  • Commercial Drivers

  • Culinary Arts

  • Early Childcare Education

  • Healthcare

  • Information Technology and Computer Science

  • Manufacturing and Skilled Trades (including welding, auto and aviation mechanics and technicians)

  • Public Safety

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

ACFCU’s Free Homebuying 101 Webinar: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership, or have you started considering it but don’t know where to start?

Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved. Join ACFCU for

Sweeney Todd

A victim of a gross injustice that robbed him of his wife and child, Sweeney Todd sets about exacting a terrible revenge on society.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list