SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Over a dozen long-time businesses could face thousands of dollars in fines for violating an ordinance passed more than four years ago.
Weeks after the holidays, more than a dozen business owners received a letter telling them they were in violation of a town signage ordinance.
The owner of Jerri Bob's Mail Service says he received a letter dated January 6, on January 12. When he called the town's code enforcement officer to ask about the letter, he was told not to worry about it. Then, Bradford received a second letter.
"This is your final notice. If you don't take down this signage by the fifth of February, you'll be fined $1092.50 and then every day that you're not in compliance, there will be more of a fine.
Jerri Bob's Mail Service has been open for business in Surfside Beach for 27 years and Bradford says he hasn't made any changes to his business in six years. Bradford says he wanted answers, after receiving the letter.
"I asked for an on-site visit to explain to me, what is wrong with my signage. Like I said, it's been up for six years. I'm confused," Bradford said.
Bradford was fined because there isn't supposed to be anything in the windows.
"And I mean you can easily go through the town of Surfside, and there is not a business that I know of, that doesn't have something in the windows," he explained.
Bradford understands town council decided police need to be able to see through business windows, which is why most of his signage is at the very top of his windows.
"As you can well see, you can see through my windows," he said, as he pointed to his front windows.
After getting together with another business owner who's been fined, the owner of Joker's Cycles, Bradford gathered about 15 other businesses who received a similar letter. Mayor Doug Samples confirmed this number of businesses.
Last week, the town council did discuss this issue and handed over the ordinance for review to the business committee. A committee, Tom Bradford happens to be on.
"For one, it's very, very big. It's cumbersome, written very legally, and it's hard to understand," Bradford explained.
The ordinance is 28 pages long and Bradford asked before any fines are paid, the business committee should have the time to review the ordinance.
"Let the business committee do what we've been asked to do. Let's come together at a point in the future and see if we just can resolve this. We need a code, it needs to be fair, and it needs to be 100 percent enforced," Bradford said.
Mayor Doug Samples told WMBF News he was aware of these violations letters and said quote, "If it was enforced in the past, it was certainly enforced at a level where we were trying to work with our businesses as opposed to this shotgun approach."
Samples says he plans to work with the business committee as it makes recommendations.