Column: Writing On The Wall

Via @Bren0gfox

While driving along Andrews Avenue the past few weeks, I cannot escape being visually abused by the writing on the side of a building. Unlike most cities where such writings scribbled or painted on sides of buildings are the result of illicit activity, here in our Island City, it is the deliberate work of the new tenant.  

Once a thrift store for Sanctuary House, it now seems to be a roadside ministry with Biblical writings painted along the front and side walls. 

Hopefully this will not become the new trend up and down Andrews Avenue with other churches, businesses and property owners feeling a need to express themselves by painting and writing whatever they choose on the outside walls of buildings. 

Perhaps the Plasma Center will have the latest price of a pint of blood splashed on the side of their building in red paint, or perhaps a Pentecostal ministry will choose a verse from Leviticus denouncing homosexuality on the side of their building. 

The possibilities are endless, and definitely not the quality of life residents of our great Island City should have to deal with on their daily drive, walk, or bike ride around their community.

Like most cities, Wilton Manors has zoning laws, sign ordinances, and regulations that limit or prevent certain activity to take place. One might take for granted that such activity as writing over outside walls would be restricted or prohibited in some way. Obviously that is not the case here in Wilton Manors. 

Recent inquiries to city officials were answered with, “Well it might not look pretty, but it doesn’t mean it is in violation.” 

Not the answer I was hoping to hear. Further details from city officials stated that the city could not regulate based on content and that since the wording did not specifically advertise a service or name of the church, it was not really a sign that could be typically regulated. 

Well I suggest that someone from the city might need to drive by and take another look. Clearly painted on the walls is a day and time when the church holds services (Sundays at 10 a.m.). That clearly seems like a business sign to me, but perhaps I am getting a bit nitpicky in my old age.

This might be a price we pay in our society to be blessed with freedom of speech and expression, so our city might be correct in stating that they cannot regulate content. 

However, they do have the right to regulate how that content is displayed in a public setting. Displaying religious sayings and advertising church services is not the main issue for me. It is the fact that they are painting it all over the exterior walls of a building right along Andrew’ Avenue in total disregard for the rules and regulations that apply to the rest of our business community, our residential community, and everyone else in our Island City. 

Perhaps we should all post our favorite sayings, jokes, or comments on our outside walls.

As our city moves ahead to update city codes, ordinances and regulations, hopefully sometime in my lifetime, perhaps this might serve as an example of what might be needed in such a revision. That is if the regulation does not already exist and is being overlooked by Code Enforcement for some reason. 

Clearly the current writings on the wall list a date and time of when services are held, which might be in violation of our sign ordinance or other regulations currently on the books. 

I will leave that to our elected officials and city management to figure out. I just needed to get it off my chest and use it as a topic for this week’s article to stop me from getting in hot water once again by talking about one of our elected officials who keeps giving me so much material to share.

Speaking of our elected officials, our Island City has a new Mayor and two new Commissioners. 

Justin Flippen will lead our great city, having been sworn in this past week as our new Mayor. Paul Rolli and Gary Resnick were also sworn in and seated as our new City Commissioners, joining Commissioners Green and Carson on the dais. Tom Green was voted by his peers that same evening to take on the Vice Mayor’s position. Congratulations to all!!  

Much appreciation and gratitude goes to Scott Newton for his many years of dedicated service to our city as he leaves the dais for a taste of private life and extra time to spend with his grandchildren. Scott’s love and commitment to our wonderful city has and will continue to make life just better here.