Disappearing soon from a Blockbuster Video store near you: The signs.
Citing widely ignored sign ordinances on the books for 20 years, the county's chief of land use enforcement said yesterday that he has ordered the removal by Jan. 11 of five illegal signs at the company's video store at the corner of Ritchie Highway and Robinson Road and one Clement Hardware sign at the same building.
The signs had raised the ire of the North Severna Park Community Association and the Greater Severna Park Council, which last week passed a unanimous motion opposing all of Blockbuster's signs.
The head of land use enforcement, Richard Gauch, acknowledged that his eight-man enforcement team began cracking down on the video store because of the complaints.
"There are so many blatant violations around the county that our inspectors have to drive around with blinders on. Otherwise, all eight of us would be stuck on one street all year filling out forms," Gauch said.
Gauch listed the various ordinances he said were violated by Blockbuster, beginning with the sign facing out onto residential property along Robinson Road.
The freestanding sign on Robinson Road is illegal because it is within 50 feet of residential property owned by Walter Sosnoski, who happens to own the Blockbuster/Clement Hardware property, Gauch said. Sosnoski's house had been falsely listed as commercially zoned in the original June 1989 application, but county records showed that the house was rezoned residential in February 1989.
The blinking sign in the window of the store, like all blinking signs in the county, is illegal, Gauch said.
The translucent awning signs on two sides of the building are illegal because signs are allowed to cover only 12 percent of the front of a building. Blockbuster's two blue awnings cover 2 times their allotment, Gauch said.
The "ticket" sign behind the building is also illegal, he said, because freestanding signs are allowed only where the store has an entrance.
The franchisee and Sosnoski were given until Jan. 11 to remove the Robinson Road sign and until tomorrow to remove the other four, Gauch said.
A spokeswoman at Blockbuster's corporate headquarters in Denver, Colo., said that although the company had received one letter of complaint about the sign, the company was not aware of any removal orders.
The official, who refused to be identified, said the Blockbuster signs were standard issue and that permits had been acquired from the county for all of them.
"It's not illegal, that's wrong," the woman said.
Timothy Meyer, who lives two doors from the 30-foot sign, said he had been rudely rebuffed by the manager of the video store when he complained.
After that, he brought the issue before the GSPC and NSPCA.
Thomas Magette, the president of the NSPCA, was delighted with the county's decision.
"This shows that raising your voice can get you somewhere," Magette said.