Gold Coast Store Battles Neighbors Over Flags

Oak Street Council believes Geneva Seal flags may violate city ordinance

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    The portion of Oak Street is considered a special sign district that prohibits six different types of signs, including neon, flashing and banners. Anthony Ponce reports.

    A Gold Coast business owner is at odds with his neighbors over the flying of his flags above his business.

    Leonard Goldberg flies an American, Illinois and Chicago flag above the Geneva Seal store in the 100 block of East Oak Street. But some of the other businesses don't think it fits with the decor of the upscale street.

    Goldberg received a letter from the Oak Street Council this week, a group dedicated to maintaining the street's unique aesthetic. It said the flags were a direct violation of the city's sign ordinance, and threatens to send an inspector and issue a fine if the flags aren't down by next Friday.

    "It just kind of took me by surprise, it's really shocking," Goldberg, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, said. "It doesn't make any sense to me ... Suddenly we're told we can't fly the American flag."

    The corridor is considered a special sign district that prohibits six different types of signs, including neon, flashing and banners.

    The council released a statement from Liz Kores saying it doesn't have the power to enforce ordinances, but it's their responsibility to report violations.

    "Our communications to Geneva Seal were voiced merely out of concern that the current Oak Street signage ordinance expressly prohibits banners, and, depending on the City of Chicago's interpretation of the classification of "banners", that flags could possibly be considered a violation as well."

    The shoppers polled by NBC Chicago on Oak Street said they didn't think the flags were an eyesore on the street.