Georgetown’s planned Camping World store could be allowed to hoist a 110-foot sign and an American flag slightly larger than an NBA basketball court under an ordinance given first reading Monday night by the city council.
The ordinance would govern non-commercial flags of more than 32 square feet in area or 32 feet high. Any smaller flag, whether a U.S. flag or one promoting a business, would not need approval from Georgetown’s Board of Adjustment and would be permitted anywhere in the city.
The issue behind the proposed ordinance arose earlier this month when Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis tweeted about an American flag not being allowed at the Georgetown Camping World, set to open in the summer. He wants to fly a flag that’s 5,000 square feet. An NBA basketball court is 4,700 square feet.
In January, Camping World obtained a conditional use permit from Georgetown for a 110-foot-tall business sign near Interstate 75, but the company was denied its request for a 130-foot flagpole. The flagpole would have constituted a second sign along the interstate, in violation of current city rules.
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Additional provisions in the proposed ordinance include that when a commercial flag, which is defined as containing a commercial message, greater than 32 square feet or higher than 32 feet, it is considered an interstate sign.
City Attorney Andrew Hartley said he couldn’t provide an across-the-board definition of “commercial,” but he said the language of the ordinance would imply that it would serve a commercial act. Hartley gave an example of a flag displaying a company logo.
The proposal could become an ordinance if the city council approves it after a second reading, which is scheduled for May 8.
Camping World’s plans
At the meeting, Matt Summers, a planner for the Scott County-Georgetown planning commission, said Camping World had submitted an application for a 150-foot flagpole to fly the 5,000-square-foot American flag.
The Georgetown Board of Adjustment had been scheduled to hear that request on May 8, but Hartley said Camping World could seek a delay while the city council considers revising the current ordinance.
During public comment, Linda Glass, a Georgetown resident, said she opposes Camping World’s “bullying” Georgetown into changing the ordinance.
“I don’t want to see our town and our local government being manipulated and disrespected and the American flag used as a marketing pawn by a publicity-seeking CEO,” she said.