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Decade-old ordinance threatens Starkville’s iconic Strange Brew sign

The Strange Brew sign could be in jeopardy.
The Strange Brew sign could be in jeopardy.(Twitter/@SBCoffeehouse)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 12:23 PM CDT
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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WLBT) - Strange Brew Coffeehouse in Starkville has long attracted national attention over its messages on an outdoor sign, but a city ordinance passed in 2010 now threatens the sign’s existence as it currently stands.

The ordinance explains that signs must conform to specific guidelines.

“The purpose and intent of these regulations is to create the legal frame work for a comprehensive and balanced system of signage to improve and enhance the aesthetic environment of the city and to avoid the visual clutter that is potentially harmful to traffic and to the appearance of the community. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Starkville find that the regulations set forth herein will improve the visual appearance of the city by limiting the number and size of signs within the corporate limits, consistent with constitutional guarantees, while continuing to provide an effective means of communication.”

For commercial districts, the following signs are prohibited, per the 2010 ordinance: Flashing signs, pole signs, post signs, inflatable displays, snipe signs, motor vehicle signs (other than those for businesses located on the premises), non-seasonal decorative lighting, and portable signs that also meet the definition of a flashing sign.

Built into the ordinance was a 10-year amortization period, meaning existing signs would not need to be changed right away. Per city code, any sign not in compliance must be taken down by May 5, 2022.

This includes the iconic Strange Brew Coffeehouse sign, which sits along Highway 12. The store’s owner wrote on Twitter that they received an email last week that their sign needed to be changed, and that there had been no prior communication from the city before that email.

According to Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, who was not in office when the ordinance passed, Strange Brew’s sign would need to be replaced with a monument sign. Some of the online backlash pointed out that a monument sign would be lower to the ground, and therefore less visible.

Spruill herself pointed out that she owns a similar sign for Spruill Property Management that will be taken down by the deadline. She notes the city will not make an exception for the coffee shop.

The Twitter fight has brought in many Twitter users to use their voice to “#SaveTheBrewSign,” including prominent members of Barstool Sports.

Strange Brew added that their fight is not with the mayor, as she is enforcing a rule she herself did not create, but they hope for “a positive outcome” with the city.

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