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Thread: Major League Hooters sign variance

  1. #1

    Major League Hooters sign variance

    Our board of adjustment recently denied a sign variance because the proposed sign resembled male genitalia. There is no language in our sign code specifically prohibiting signs in the shape of weenies and the applicant argued the shape of his sign is no more phallic than the traditional Arby's "ten gallon hat" sign design. He hired an expert marketing witness who testified that the phallus was his client's "marketing equivalent of the golden arches" and that denial of the franchise sign would violate the Lanham Act. The BOA also found that the text of the sign ("Major League Hooters - come and get'em") "offended the moral character and sense of decency of the town."

    They read no findings of fact into the record and did not base their denial on any code language. I am afraid they'll sue the pants off of us. Any advice?

  2. #2

    "Major League Hooters" - sign variance

    Yer screwed!

    They could have made even a half assed effort to rationalize the decision with boilerplate findings that bore no relationship to the case at hand. Give the judge any excuse to uphold the decision. But no, they had to make a martyr out of this... say, just what kind of business has a penis for a sign, that says "hooters"?

  3. #3
    Feb 2002
    BC, Canada

    "Major League Hooters" - sign variance

    Ok, I know this is a very serious topic of great consequence. It isn't supposed to be funny at all and no one is supposed to be laughing. So everyone who is giggling right now should be very ashamed of themselves as professional planners.

    As for what to do? (giggle) I haven't got a clue (giggle). I mean there must be some kind of law somewhere (giggle) or we would have male genitalia cheerfully waving at us from billboards on all the major roads in the country. (giggle) You have to admit that it would be an attention getter. I mean you could use moustaches or happy faces on them. I had better quit while I'm a head. No pun intended. (giggle) Sorry I am not much help.

  4. #4

    "Major League Hooters" - sign variance

    Good advice, and good question. The answer has got to be someone that is either confused or trying to cover a lot of titillating territory. My question is "How good could the food possible be?" In which case, if the sign turns people off of the food (even if they're turned on by the sign) then we might assume that the business won't be around for very long and the sign will go away anyway.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas

    "Major League Hooters" - sign variance

    I added to Prohibited Signs Provisions: 'Signs which display copy of an immoral or indecent nature. The BZA shall resolve any questions pertaining to this provision, applying local community standards.' I have never used it, but it is there just in case.

    If you go to court, the judge will probably remand the case back to another hearing to develop findings. Get with your attorney (who should have been involved prior to the first meeting).

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