UPDATE: In an email to the resident, city of Bartlett officials said they would not continue action over the yard display at this time, and said the city may amend its sign ordinance.
The earlier story is below.
BARTLETT, Tenn. – A Bartlett man is calling foul after he said city code enforcement officials told him the gay pride flags and inflatable rainbow in his front yard would have to go.
Nick Toombs says he has the display up for Pride Month. A professional magician, he says he regularly displays decorations in his front yard.
But in an email to Toombs, a Bartlett code enforcement official brands the display as ‘illegal’ and says it violates the city’s sign ordinance, which limits the size of signs but doesn’t specifically refer to flags or other objects.
Mayor Keith McDonald said Toombs was warned to take down the display 12 days ago, which Toombs disputes, and that the city will now take the matter to court, where Toombs could be fined up to $50 each day the flags stay up.
“Why are we stretching the ordinances that they already have to take down stuff that looks no different to me than, you know, inflatable Santa Clauses and plastic snowmen that people put in their front yards?” said Toombs.
McDonald said that while technically holiday decorations could run afoul of the city ordinance, in practice, code enforcement doesn’t enforce the ordinance against Halloween and Christmas displays. He said the ordinance is now under review.
Many of Toombs neighbors support his display.
“We like to see it, the kids like to see it,” said Kayla Brenner. “I think they should put more up, I really do. I can’t believe they want them to take it down.”
“I think they need to mind their own business. I think that if it’s not bothering the neighbors, most of the neighbors or all of the neighbors, then they just need to leave him alone,” said Debra Sykes.