Appreciation or violation? Large patriotic signs in Plant City cited by code enforcement

July 20, 2019 in Florida

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PLANT CITY, Fla (WFLA) — A Plant City businessman may be forced to take down large patriotic signs on his property because they’re out of compliance, according to Hillsborough County code enforcement.

Kevin Johnson paid for and put up the four signs a couple months ago as a sign of appreciation for the military and law enforcement.

He also erected a sign advertising his nearby business, United Septic.

Last week, Hillsborough County received a complaint about the signs. Code inspectors came out to inspect the billboards at the corner of Branch Forbes Road and N. Forbes Road and cited Johnson with two violations.

The county tells 8 On Your Side it simply comes down to policy, despite the patriotic gesture. County ordinance states large off-site buisness signs need permits. As for the four patriotic signs, there are simply too many for the road frontage on that plot of land, per county ordinance.

To be in compliance, Johnson would need to get a permit for the business sign, and remove or seek permission for two of the patriotic signs.

Michelle Valdes, a friend and employee of Kevin Johnson, supports the signs and dosen’t understand why anyone would complain to the county.

“‘God Bless America,’ if you get offfended by that, I don’t know what to tell you,” she said, referencing one of the signs that reads “God Bless America.”

“There are a lot of signs at this intersection and unfortunately, we are the ones who got picked on,” Valdes added.

The county told Johnson and Valdes the name of the individual who complained, both say it’s not a name they know. The last thing either want to see is for the signs to come down.

“If we have to take down our business sign, we’ll take down our business sign,” Valdes said. “But why pick on our military and first responders?”

The county gave Johnson 15 business days to either take the signs down or begin the permitting process. Otherwise, as the property owner, he risks getting fined up to $1,000 a day.

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