Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis said he will fly an American flag instead of erecting a sign in front of his planned Georgetown store, but he will need to go back to the Georgetown Board of Adjustment before that can happen.
Camping World in Georgetown is set to open this summer near the southbound side of exit 125 on Interstate 75.
In January, Camping World obtained a conditional use permit from the Georgetown Board of Adjustment for a 110-foot-tall sign near the interstate, but the company was denied a request for a 130-foot flagpole because it would constitute a second interstate sign. City zoning ordinances allow for only one interstate sign on the property, and 110 feet is the height limit. Any sign higher than 32 feet would have been considered an interstate sign.
Lemonis tweeted about the denial last Tuesday.
After numerous local media stories about the denial, one Twitter user posted that Lemonis should take down the high-rise sign and put the flag up instead.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Lemonis tweeted back. However, he will need approval from the Georgetown Board of Adjustment before that can happen.
Charles Perkins, the attorney for the board of adjustment, said the flag that Camping World proposed was 3,200 square feet. According to city sign ordinances, an interstate sign can be no more than 150 square feet.
“(If) he wants to switch it out, he would have to come back and try to do that,” Perkins said.
Perkins said he is aware that flags have been installed at other Camping World stores. He called it a brand identification.
“Frankly, that’s a commercial activity. That’s not the same thing as putting up a commemorative flag.”.
Matt Summers, a planner with the Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission, said previously that Camping World doesn’t need board of adjustment approval for flags less than 32 feet high.
The Georgetown Board of Adjustment’s decision to reject the flag because it would constitute a second interstate sign has triggered numerous comments on social media. A Facebook group, Flags Over Georgetown, was created in response to the board’s position.
“Help us bring our message to the leaders of Georgetown. Keep them from running businesses away because of asinine blue laws. Our flag is not a sign,” read a statement under a page about the group.
Late Tuesday morning, Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather released a statement saying that he and other city officials were unaware of the issue until Monday, because a conditional use permit doesn’t need approval from the mayor’s office or city council.
“Over the next several hours and days, the mayor’s office will be gathering facts to determine what happened, why, and what options are available to the council, should they choose to address the situation with legislation,” the statement said.
Board of adjustment decisions can be appealed, but only 30 days after a decision has been made, according to state law.
In a 2014 blog post on its website, Camping World said it would begin flying massive flags outside its stores. In the blog post, Lemonis said the flags would fly to honor veterans.