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Warren to limit business signs and displays

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WARREN, Ohio - Members of city council want to limit what city businesses can keep on lots outside the stores because some businesses look like they're having year-long flea markets, they say.

Council members Gregory Bartholomew and Vincent Flask say they want to clean up the corridors leading to the city because they worry businesses leaving too much display merchandise outside make the areas look less appealing to potential new businesses.

"If you sell large items like cars, plants and boats, obviously, you can't store those indoors," Bartholomew explains, "but for people to have washers and dryers outside like a sidewalk sale everyday it just doesn't look good."

Flask says there is also an issue of too many signs.

"We've got a lot of places that have old signs that don't maintain their signs," he says. "They put them up and they're made for temporary use, then they're up for months at a time. We'd just like to see a way to clean most of that up."

The owners of Thrift Town Treasures on state Route 422 say leaving some merchandise outside is their only form of advertising.

"They're tired of the stuff in the parking lots and they don't want stuff on display because they think it makes 422 look trashy, but they aren't looking at all the abandonded buildings along 422, not looking at all the trash that's already here," says Daniel Comer of Thrift Town Treasures. "This brings in our business, this helps people in Warren. We get them their cheap furniture."

Bartholomew says there are a lot of abandoned commercial buildings lining 422 because it's a lot more expensive to demolish commercial buildings than residential homes.

The ordinance to limit what stores can keep out front passed it's first reading at Wednesday's city council meeting.

If made into law, fines for violating the ordinance could reach $100 for the first offense and go up from there for subsequent violations.

Council members emphasized they do not want to hurt existing businesses with this ordinance.

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