Letter to the Editor

Signs, signs every where the signs

Sunday, April 13, 2008

To the Editor:

I would like to comment and express my agreement with the letter submitted recently in The Brazil Times by Sherry Wilkinson regarding the recent reinforcement of the sign ordinance.

Brazil is a great small town. We are not living in Carmel or Noblesville nor do we pretend to be.

Should we want to live in those areas, we could move there, but we don't. We choose to live in this community, raise our families, support our schools, enjoy our community events and attend the churches of our choice.

Brazil City has a great group of employees who work hard to provide services in our town. They are often overworked and under appreciated. I thank them for their service.

Most of us who grew up in the Brazil area miss the thriving downtown area we once enjoyed on shopping trips with our parents. But as times change, so does the landscape of our town. Small business is bringing new life back to our town with a variety of unique shops and services. They rent and buy buildings, buy utilities, pay taxes, provide employment, purchase supplies and help to bring the excitement of free enterprise back to our town.

It is easy to complain about empty, dilapidated buildings and wish things were different. It is quite another to take that leap of faith and invest time, money and hard work in your town by opening a small business. I commend and applaud their efforts.

It would be a wiser strategy for our city to consider buying signs and providing incentives to attract more small business rather than punitive fines that will ultimately drive business away. Our family has owned a small rental property business in Brazil for several years. It is our choice to do so. We know we have to pay the taxes, keep the properties in good repair, pay the water bills when tenants fail to do so, keep the lawns cleaned and mowed and make sure the property is neat and orderly.

But we also choose to do this trying to make a positive difference in our town by providing clean, safe, well kept, affordable housing to tenants who choose to rent instead of own their homes. We have never received a tax abatement, reduced tax rate or discount for utility services. I would guess that neither have any of these small business owners who are facing a fine for creative advertising.

People who choose to invest in small business can do it anywhere. However, those of us who have chose to do it in Brazil do so because we want to make a positive impact on our community. Small business owners sponsor our youth league teams, donate cups and napkins for our PTO events and furnish door prizes for our raffles. As a city and community, it is important that we encourage rather than discourage their efforts.

A drive past Ms. Wilkinson's business on Main Street clearly makes her point. She is being fined for placing an attractive sign on her sidewalk advertising her business while an adjoining empty building next door continues to fall into further disrepair year after year. Let's not punish the business owners who are trying to make a positive difference.

There are plenty of eyesores on which we can channel our efforts. Perhaps the city might consider a partnership committee with small business people to seek solutions to sensible guidelines for signage and advertising.

Brazil is a great small town. I hope we can work together to make it even more attractive to business and industry.

John Moore,