Virginia home, BLM sign drawing attention of neighbors and codes department

Virginia

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield home projected in colorful images is bringing attention to national political topics–drawing the intrigue of neighbors and drivers passing-by. 

Now, a large sign out front supporting the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is in the middle of a dispute with the county. 

Tim and Lauren Barry opted to erect yellow ‘BLM’ lettering in front of their Buford Road home, after the death of George Floyd in May.

“We want to show our kids that we’re involved, that we’re taking action, that any little sign that you can give to people, that shows that you support them, is important,” said Tim Barry.

The couple said letters of support have come in. “We didn’t really realize how much of an affect it would have on the community,” Lauren Barry said.

However, not everyone is a fan. 

“I wish it said ‘ALM,’ because I feel like all lives matter,” Neighbor, Brenda Shimchick said; going on to recount her and her husband’s reaction.

“I think we were both just shocked that it was so big, and it was sort of in your face,” Shimchick said.

The messaging does not appear to be a municipal issue; rather, zoning.

The Barrys said they received a letter in August from Michael Edwards, a county code compliance officer.

The letter cites a zoning ordinance regarding residential sign restrictions, saying “Noncommercial signage may be provided in more than 1 sign, provided that the aggregate area of all such signs shall not exceed 8 square feet. A maximum of 1 sign may be a commercial sign not to exceed 6 square feet.”

However, “if no commercial signage is displayed on property, the noncommercial sign may be substituted for it allowing aggerate total of permitted signage to be 14 square feet.”

The letter goes on to request “the total sign area” be reduced to “14 square feet or less no later than August 4, 2020.”

Tim Barry says he has communicated his plans to appeal the decision, and awaits a scheduled date to make his case in front of the county board of supervisors.

“Our argument is that this is a work of art, and an important thing that we want to display,” Barry said.

8News requested comment from the county Thursday, and have not yet received a response.

The illuminated projections, however, do not appear to be in municipal violation; no similar Codes notice has been delivered.

Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Barry’s decided to project images of the late judge, as well as Breonna Taylor. Plus, late-Congressman John Lewis in a message saying “Get in Good Trouble” and even Joe Biden.

The recent projection of the former vice president quoted a response levied against President Trump during Tuesday’s controversial debate. The image quoted Biden: “Will you shut up, man?” and sourced the former Vice President as an ‘American Hero.’

As for the projections on the house, neighbor Brenda Shimchick said she has not seen many, but says “people have a right to do what they want to do, to say what they want to say, because we—thank goodness—live in a free country.”


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