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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Abandoned Signs A Headache for Development Services

Efforts to Beautify City Stymied by "Visual Litter"

 

Last updated 2/10/2022 at 10:57am

This sign stands in front of a long-abandoned gas station that is already subject to a code compliance action and fines.

Abandoned signs are apparent in numerous locations in Lake Wales, a problem that City of Lake Wales Development Services staff are planning to address as part of the ongoing review of city codes.

Although the signs are not permitted under the present regulations, many have been in place after businesses have been closed for more than a decade, detracting from the appearance of the city, and potentially serving as a disincentive to new investment. Ironically, many of the derelict signs are located adjacent to Scenic Highway. They have been described by one resident as "litter on a stick."

The business once served by this sign was destroyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004

Shena Rowland, executive assistant for Development Services director Mark Bennett, responded to an inquiry from Lake Wales News.Net, forwarding the relevant chapter of the existing sign code, which states that "a sign may be considered abandoned if the business or other use it served has been discontinued for six months." The ordinance further states that the building official "shall notify" the owner of the violation and require removal "within 30 days," but that process has not been closely followed.

Some of the signs and remnants may present potential danger to the public or nearby properties in the event of high winds.

The code does provide exemptions for signs that remain in good condition, providing that they may be "covered with a fitted cloth" or replaced with a blank sign face, subject to a temporary permit.

 

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