Pizza shop owner at odds with city over historic sign

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- It’s city versus pizza shop owner in Lee’s Summit, Mo. It's a battle to keep a four-decade-old sign erected by the highway.

Lee’s Summit officials say it violates a city ordinance and must come down, but the owner says it has historic significance to the community.

The big red sign touting the name “Pappi’s Pizza” has been standing in the same spot on Blue Parkway since 1972, according to Jim Dingman, owner of Fun House Pizza. Dingman bought the property last year. He likes the sign and wants to keep it, only changing the name to reflect the business change.

“There’s a lot of history that goes along with the sign and the community," he said.

But on Saturday, Dingman said city officials sent him a letter telling him he had to get rid of the sign by July 18 because it violated a new city ordinance.

“At first, I was pretty angry about the whole deal because I felt the city could’ve come to us earlier and have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, let’s do something with this. Let’s try to come to a mutual aspect, a mutual conclusion on it,’” Dingman said.

Leaders in the city’s planning and code enforcement department were not available Friday for an interview or phone conversation with FOX 4.  But in Article 13 of the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, it states pole signs -- defined as a freestanding sign mounted on a pole -- are prohibited.

Dingman said it’s the city’s understanding that if you are a property owner who has always had a pole sign, you can keep it. But once that property changes owners, it must come down. It’s a rule change that’s ignited an outpouring of support for the pizza shop on Facebook with more than 500 comments, mostly positive, and among customers.

“Entrepreneurs face enough of a battle in terms of getting started and continuing,” customer Justin Kalwei said. “And over regulating things like this seem silly and counterproductive.”

Dingman told FOX 4 he has filed a permit application with the city to make an exception for his sign and that they plan to review it July 7.

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