Local News

Cary Business Owners Upset Over Sign Rules

Posted September 1, 2007
Updated September 2, 2007

— Cary has big plans for new downtown development including a $33 million street-scape plan, a library expansion and renovating Cary Elementary School into a community arts center.

Some business owners already operating in downtown Cary said Friday they are excited about the town's future plans, but the restrictive sign rules have made it hard for them to grow.

"There's just not a whole lot of traffic in downtown Cary right now," said Dan Shedrick, owner of Cookies in Bloom.

Shedrick said he wanted to get more people into his Chatham Street store so he decided to self-advertise with a sign. Cary's sign enforcers intervened and said the sign blocked the view of motorists.

Town rules do not allow signs to be placed in right-of-ways. Sign enforcers also claimed the sign was too far from the storefront, another town violation.

"This used to be a lot of business for us and now with it down, people don't really know where we are now," Shedrick said.

At the recently opened Havana Grill, owner Robert Cardoso put up two fiber-optic trees on the outdoor patio seating area, about 50 feet from the road. He hoped the colorful trees would add some island flair to the Cuban restaurant.

"I think an asset to the city is to have something different, and that's what I'm trying to bring to the city," Cardoso said.

Cary also has an ordinance that forbids artificial trees from being displayed outside a business. So Cardoso moved the trees further back on the patio. Town leaders still said the trees were a distraction to drivers.

"We're 100 feet from the street," Cardoso added.

Cardoso said he has not been able to put up a sign to advertise his restaurant, because town leaders said his logo was too bright and had too many colors.

Cary Councilman Nels Roseland said the sign rules are more flexible for downtown businesses than in other parts of town and that they serve a purpose.

"It's a tough balance," Roseland said. "To balance effective advertising without cluttering the landscape and creating a honky-tonk image."

Roseland also said new investments will help bring more visitors to downtown Cary. The street-scape plan will help make the benches, lights, and downtown corridors more aesthetically pleasing. Cary has already invested $6.5 million towards the project.

Roseland said a bond will likely need to go to Cary voters next year to fund the rest of the plan. Cary has already made its first installment of $1.1 million towards the $17 million renovation of Cary Elementary School. It will include art studios, classroom, exhibit space and a small theater.

The town has also partnered with Wake County to initiate design of the upgraded downtown library. The council set aside $865,000 to pay for the design and architectural work. The upgrade is part of a $45 million library bond that will go before voters on Oct. 9.

Cary business owners have debated the town's sign rules before. The owner of a sign for South Hills Mall off Interstate 40 that is in violation has fought to keep the billboard pole sign up.

In July, council members rejected a proposal to amend the rule. The businessman said he was trying to come up with an alternative.


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  • LuvLivingInCary Sep 4, 2007

    Oh but it's Ok to post a ga-zillion councilmen and mayoral signs everywhere you look. Just drive through Cary and notice..

  • oceanchild71 Sep 4, 2007

    Relocated yankees are a plague. 95% of the yankees I have met can only complain about how hot it is, how slow it is, and that the tea is too sweet and how things were sooooooooo much better back up north. In that case, go back!

    Now, for the others that move here and are willing to observe the local wisdom and customs before opening their big mouths and complaining and appreciate the differences between here and their former homes, we say "Howdy! Please, pull up a chair!'

  • RAINDOG Sep 4, 2007

    UNDERSTAND !!!!!!!!! Caryites live in the perfect world......Thats why its such a mess as far as traffic and business , they're just not realistic. They have tried to create a "utopia" and it looks like a first year "design school student project.....that failed. Get your heads out of the sand and wake up, its 2007.

  • seaturtles246 Sep 4, 2007

    I'm glad that Cary is careful about not cluttering up the town with signs. I'd much rather look at trees than signs. Also, if I need to find an address - well, Mapquest can take me there - no problem. Just think, without this ordinance, we might have signs that read "Pedro says - 120 miles to South of the Boarder". If people are so unhappy with Cary, well, don't ever go there - not to Lazy or Spring Daze, the amphitheater, don't work at SAS, and for sure don't move to one of the safest cities in the country.

  • zeitghost Sep 4, 2007

    Y'know, Cary's sign ordinances are stringent to the point of absurdity, but they are not new. If you are going to open a business in Cary, you already know the rules.

  • boatrokr Sep 4, 2007

    "His sign is 'too bright' and 'has too many colors'?" I guess the sign nazis actually counted them? People in Cary need to GET A LIFE.

  • Sean2625 Sep 3, 2007

    Cary has such stupid laws and regulations. I refuse to shop there as it's nearly impossible to find anything, especially after dark, because of their sign rules. "They can build it but it doesn't mean they will come"...LOL.

  • jgirl5830 Sep 3, 2007

    "yes some Americans act as if they are "smarter" than the other Americans and actually feel that they are "better" I think plague hits the nail on the head. Pingman I think you are talking about yourself!!

  • pingman Sep 3, 2007

    jgir, yes some Americans act as if they are "smarter" than other Americans and actually feel that they are "better". I think plague hits the nail on the head!

  • jgirl5830 Sep 3, 2007

    Tarheelsdontlikeedwards-what do you have against "yankees"? We are all Americans, you act like we are the plague, so we live here now so what, get used to it and stop complaining.