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Sign of the times; Cape Coral business sign restrictions headed to council

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Sign of the times; Cape Coral business sign restrictions headed to council

By Kelli Stegeman. CREATED Aug 28, 2013

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Cape Coral's Planning and Zoning Commission voting to send an ordinance restricting business signs to the council for a vote. 

Now, some say this could kill their bottom line. 
 
Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce President Mike Quaintance sent out an apology letter Wednesday to Cape business owners saying he failed to adequately represent their business interest when it comes to the sign ordinance. 
 
He's now asking business owners to speak up. 
 
"It's not a bad place to do business, but you've got to be able to do business," said Ross Randall. He owns Chicago Pizza in Cape Coral. 
 
No matter how you slice it, the sign ordinance will be tough to swallow for him and other small business owners. 
 
"Owning a business is, you know, it's every day you're looking for what's coming in," Randall said.
 
Ross uses an 'a-frame' sign' and windows completely covered in artwork to draw-in the customers. Both would be in violation with this new ordinance that is now headed to the city council chambers. 
 
"That is pretty strong encroachment of government of entrepreneurs and small business," said Quaintance. 
 
He's been giving those businesses a voice during the drafting of the ordinance. 
 
Quaintance believes 750 Cape Coral businesses will be impacted by the ordinance, about 20% of the businesses in the Cape. 
 
He's worried cracking down on their advertising signs will put them under or make them leave. 
 
Councilman Marty McClain is the sponsor of the ordinance and disagrees with Quaintance. 
 
"A-frames that we've allowed or certain things that we've allowed, if that's going to drive businesses away, the businesses have got problems other than a sign ordinance," he said. 
 
McClain says the ordinance won't leave entrepreneurs high and dry.
 
"Immediately upon taking effect they are going to have to replace that sign? No. This ordinance isn't penned that way," he said.
 
Owners with signs in compliance now would have until 2024 to make the new changes if the ordinance passes.
 
As for the other signs, like a-frams that are long illegal and overlooked, they have just months to get rid of them.
 
Quaintance is now asking business owners to call, email and attend meetings of the council to tell them how your business will be affected.   
 
The council will take up the ordinance mid-September.