Town Finds 'God Bless America' Signs in Violation, Threatens Fines

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How far is too far when it comes to patriotic displays? Residents of a central Florida town who have posted "God Bless America" signs on their front lawns for months are now facing fines if they don't remove them. The temporary lawn signs that were distributed by a local church around the Fourth of July have been determined by City of Bartow Code Enforcement to be in violation of a local ordinance. If not removed soon, the city warns, those displaying them could be fined $25 per day.

As described in the above video, some residents are baffled by the rule and are resisting. But the city says that the ordinance is not aimed at any particular sentiment, and allows for exceptions.
god bless america sign ban bartow
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"They can have those signs out on holidays that are relevant," Bartow Code Enforcement Director Gregg Lamb told Tampa Bay's WTVT this week. You can have a temporary sign around Christmas if it's related to Christmas. Or the Fourth of July. The sign ordinance has exceptions for that."

Some Bartow residents don't see patriotism -- or lawn signs that celebrate it -- as seasonal, though. And the TV station reports that a group of them will seek a waiver from the ordinance at the next Bartow City Commission meeting. And while AOL Real Estate has carried several stories of similar conflicts, those have usually involved homeowner or condo associations, not cities -- such as the case of Army Sgt. Brandon Weir, who ran into trouble at his Huntsville, Ala., condominium complex earlier this year because he flew the U.S. flag in front of his home there. And in a similar case, Meagan Schmidt of Katy, Texas, battled her HOA over a sign in her yard that advertised her church, which the association saw as violating a rule against commercial signage.

Why would a city want to ban all lawn signs to begin with, and challenge free expression on private property? Might there be a clue in some of the yard signs and other displays in the slideshow below?

Funniest, Dumbest, Craziest Signs Put on Homes
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Town Finds 'God Bless America' Signs in Violation, Threatens Fines

Elle Zober of Beaverton, Ore., could never have guessed that the sign she put in her front yard advertising her home sale would turn her into an overnight media sensation. But it became recognizable last summer from coast to coast. It used her husband's affair and their subsequent divorce as a tool to sell her home. Of course, it might not have gotten her the attention she wanted. Read more

Cases of homeowners struggling against their banks to fend off foreclosure are a dime a dozen these days. But Michelle Hansen of Aurora, Colo., upped the ante against JPMorgan Chase, which she said refused to grant her a loan modification after she became delinquent on her mortgage. What's her tactic? She used her own house to publicly shame the bank, scrawling a message across her garage door that said: "JPMorgan Chase is stealing this home." Read more

What's a home's selling point? A gracious living room with a stunning fireplace and original moldings that capture its natural elegance? A private deck that spills onto a lush backyard lined with maple trees? Country charm just steps from the heartbeat of the city?

Well, one house in real estate agent Jake Palmer's portfolio has all of this -- but he's not banking on any of those features to land a buyer. Instead, he's advertising the home's less obvious virtues: no ghosts. Oh, there's plenty more than that. Read more

If you thought foreclosure signs were bad for home sales, wait until you get a load of this Brighton, Colo., homeowner's spray-painted disclaimer.

Titus Terranova, the implausibly named homeowner whose property abuts a home for sale in the rural Colorado town, has taken it upon himself to give prospective buyers a big warning about their would-be new neighbor: himself. Read more

What do you do when a tenant won't pay rent? One Brooklyn landlady figured she'd shame her tenant into coughing up the cash by posting this shaming note on the front door of the property he's renting from her. Did it work? Read more

Residents of a Texas community were up in arms over expletive-filled graffiti that was spray-painted across the front of a neighbor's home. Only the home's owner isn't too concerned -- after all, he did it himself. Read more

Rian White of East Hampton, N.Y., did some rabble rousing when he asked anyone and everyone for "help" painting his house. In a move that angered neighbors, White put up a sign outside of his home, reading: "Help paint a starving artists [sic] house. Throw a pint." His house -- windows and glass door included -- was then covered head to toe in splashes of paint. Read more

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, a new crime has hit America: "Sharpie parties," gatherings of party revelers armed with "Sharpie" magic markers and lured by social media invitations to wreak havoc on foreclosed homes. Read more

Here's a real neighbor from hell: Craig Fontaine and Kathleen Melker of Warwick, R.I., live next to a person who trained her pet cockatoo to repeatedly squawk derogatory expletives at them. Then, to pour salt in the wound, the neighbor painted a giant image of a cockatoo on her house so they'd have to stare at it every day. Read more

It's gotta be some stupid college kid that hangs a dumb sign like this on their front door, right? Nope -- it's a former NBA star who was foreclosed on. Read more


More stories about codes and rules for homeowners:
County Housing Code Pushing College Students Out of Shared Home
HOA Horrors and How Not to Fall Victim to Them
Gay-Bias Ban Helping Revive 'Dead Town' of Vicco, Ky.

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