The developer of a recently constructed self-storage facility here in town has installed two internally illuminated “light boxes” (my term) in the shape of the American flag on the street-facing wall of his building (see photos). This raised the ire of the local zoning commission, which felt that these structures are signs as defined by the city’s zoning regulations and thus subject to its signage provisions rather than governmental flags (albeit not constructed of fabric), which are exempt from the signage regulations. Before taking any enforcement action against the developer, the commission decided to seek a legal opinion from the city attorneys’ office regarding this matter.
In its response, the city attorneys’ office first noted that, under Connecticut state law, local zoning commissions are authorized to regulate only advertising signs and billboards; the opinion goes on to state that “[t]he American flags affixed to the building…contain no information or message relating specifically to that business or that would direct one’s attention to the business as a self-storage facility.” Finally, the opinion concludes that “[t]he American flags are not signs within the statutory definition and, therefore, cannot be regulated by the Zoning Commission.”
It would be something of an understatement to note that the commission was none too pleased with the city attorneys’ response, but they decided to let the matter drop, at least for the moment.
So, what’s your take on this issue? Any suggestions as how best to prevent this from happening again elsewhere in town? Or is this yet another foray into the arena of the irresolvable zoning conundrum?