Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A controversial zoning case over West Chester’s refusal to allow the Liberty Tax Service waver to draw in business at Tylersville and Cox roads was back in court Thursday.
West Chester Township’s attorney Scott Phillips now claims that the costumed Liberty Tax waver is a “device” and is therefore considered a sign. Because it doesn’t meet certain requirements, it is banned by the township’s zoning resolution. The zoning code defines a sign as a “device, structure, fixture or placard.”
That drew criticism from business owner Kyle Garth’s lawyer, Bob Smith.
“A device is like a mechanical apparatus,” Smith said. “The resolution does not ban costumes. There is no merit to it. If they say a costume is a device … the judge’s robe is a device, the UPS uniform is a device, Halloween costumes are a device according to West Chester.”
The two sides have ping-ponged between two courts since 2011. Trouble started when Garth and his wife, Lorraine, opened the business in a small strip center off Tylersville Road in 2009 and was ticketed almost immediately by zoning officials.
Garth claims that the mascot, dressed like the Statue of Liberty, isn’t a sign and can’t be restricted by West Chester. He also contends that West Chester is violating his right to commercial free speech.
Wednesday’s hearing was about the definition of a sign. Judge Patricia Oney of Butler County Common Pleas Court didn’t rule immediately and promised a written decision in the future, but didn’t say when.