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Dimming a colorful cityPosted Friday, April 3, 2009, at 10:06 AM
I'm not so sure about Shelbyville City Council's consideration of legislating conformity.
The council's considering changing the city's sign ordinance to ban what I'll call "amateur" painting of business names and information directly onto the sides of buildings -- and limiting what colors those buildings may be painted.
Some council members made it clear at a study session this week they're bothered by Hispanic-operated businesses painted in "bright colors" and on which large signs have been painted on the sides. I'm thinking of one building in particular painted in red, yellow and green - the national colors of Mexico - and several others in a several-block area around North Main Street between Kroger and the Madison-Elm Street intersection.
"The main streets are beginning to look like Mexico in Shelbyville," council member Lee Roy Cunningham said. "This is not Mexico and I think some way or other, we need to tone it back down," Mayor Wallace Cartwright noted.
I'd agree the hand-painted signs are somewhat unsightly. But, as well-meaning as some council members may be, we don't need building color decisions based, like it or not, on the ethnicity or origin of business operators. Our main streets, overall, definitely don't look like 'Mexico." We're in no danger of that.
And I'm not at all sold on limiting freedom of expression, which this proposal would amount to.
But let's look more closely at another issue: Some affected individuals have enough initiative to attempt operating their own businesses during a weak economic time. They're bringing in tax dollars when every penny available is needed.
Just wait until a UT fan wants to paint their building orange and white, or a Vanderbilt fan thinks black and gold. Then watch the words fly...
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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