Support

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

Daily Debrief for Nov 28, 2022

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published 5 articles that were read a total of 8250 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today…

A number of options have emerged for upgrading an iffy portion of the Arlington Blvd Trail. Engineers found it would be possible to accommodate a trail up to 11 feet…

Searching for a gift for the car enthusiast in your life? CarCare To Go has the 4 best gifts to give this season.

A Rosslyn-based cybersecurity company is providing free cybersecurity training to Black girls and women via a partnership with a local nonprofit, Black Girls Hack.

Join us at Art House 7 this Saturday 4-7pm for our Annual Open House – Teacher and Student art show!

  • Meet our teachers

  • See student and teacher artwork

  • Teacher’s paintings, ceramics, notecards will be for sale

  • Enjoy beverages and light refreshments

  • All attendees get a $20 gift certificate off a class

  • 30% off everything in our Supply Store for holiday gifts

Sat. Dec. 3, 4-7pm

Art House 7

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

The Alternative Christmas Market is back! At First Presbyterian Church Arlington in Ballston, located at 601 N. Vermont Street, Arlington VA 22203, on Sunday, December 4th from 9:30am to 1:00pm. Parking available.

Vendors and products this year include: 10,000 Villages, Olive Oil Ministry, African Team Ministries, Community Coalition for Haiti, Heifer, African Market Baskets, Café Justo, Thistle Farms, Southwest Indian Foundation, and Together We Bake.

Buy gifts for everyone on your list, and support these great organizations, artisans, and global neighbors. See you there!

Submit your own Announcement here.

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

Washington-Liberty Annual Holiday Bazaar

Join us Saturday December 3 from 10 to 4 p.m. at W-L High School, for this much anticipated Arlington holiday tradition! We will be featuring over 65 vendors for gift shopping, our student clubs and activities fundraising booths, and food

×

Subscribe to our mailing list