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Cary Sign Ordinance Causing Problems For One Small Business

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Cary Town Council Member Michael Joyce
CARY, N.C. — Depending on where they park, many vehicles could be breaking Cary's sign ordinance.

The owners of White Tiger Martial Arts park their vehicles in their own parking lot.

But because their van, which has distinct white stripes on it and some logos of the business, is visible from the road, it's considered a portable sign and that breaks the rules.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Brad Bishop of White Tiger Martial arts.

The business received a letter of violation in the mail a few weeks ago.

""I can see if it was parked at the grocery store, but this is private property," Bishop said. "We own the lot. I think we can park anywhere we like to."

But not according to Cary.

According to the town, the vehicles are then considered portable signs.

"Portable signs cover a wide range and if you address one, you have to address them all." said Mark Tutor, the town's zoning compliance supervisor.

Tutor says his workers are enforcing the ordinance on a complaint-driven basis.

Town Council Member Michael Joyce complains the 20-year ordinance no longer fits.

"To me, it punishes small businesses," Joyce said. "My preference would be to see the entire ordinance deleted."

Joyce points to a U-Haul business, which is also in violation but hasn't been cited.

He says the ordinance doesn't harm nationally recognized companies as much as a small business.

White Tiger Martial Arts agrees.

"There's thousands of advertising on the side of vehicles," Bishop said. "It helps small businesses. I don't see a problem with that."

The town has offered White Tiger a compromise, asking the business to park its vehicles on the side of the building.

The town is waiting to hear back from the owners, who are currently out of the country.

A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote to Mark Tutor. Michael Joyce should have been attributed saying, "To me, it punishes small businesses." WRAL.com regrets the error.

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