North Augusta business owner displays garish sign in protest

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September 29, 2006

It's a sign so big and obnoxious even the business owner admits it's a little hideous.

But she's willing to give up her pride if it means it may save someone's life.

One North Augusta realtor is using her creativity to try to get the city's attention.

It all stems from a tree blocking a driver's view on the realtor's property, and Joanne McKie says the sign will go only if the tree goes with it.

When Joanne moved her real estate business into a historic neighborhood on Georgia Avenue, she had no idea a tree would be the root of all her problems.

"The tree is dangerous," she says.

Joanne says it's hard for her clients to back in and out of the driveway safely with the tree blocking their view of the high amount of traffic flowing down this main artery to North Augusta.

"I had a client the other night who was extremely late because he had to drive around and come back because he couldn't turn in fast enough with someone tailgating him."

After she complained to the city, Robert Brooks, the director of Parks, Leisure and Recreation had this to say: "Several other trees on Georgia Avenue also create a sight distance issue but we cannot remove them and create a void in the canopy."

"There is no canopy's just one tree," says Joanne.

And because it's in the right of way, it belongs to the city...but Joanne found a loophole.

"I know some of the city people don't like loud signs," she laughs.

And up went a bright red and yellow four by eight that even she admits is...well...

"It's ugly!" Joanne says. "I think it's horrible.

"Nobody should be able to do this."

But she is. In fact, she's even allowed to make it bigger.

Under the city's ordinance, the maximum area allowed for a free-standing sign is 100 feet on commercial property.

Even worse, she says, she can choose to illuminate it as well.

"I plan to light it up."

So for now she says the property known as the "cute house with the ugly sign" will stay put until it lights up the city's attention.

Joanne says the sign is not typical of her style, but she'll do what it takes to get her point across.