A dental practice, a zoning ordinance, and a few eight-foot toothbrushes have been causing quite the stir on Governors Highway in Flossmoor, so much so that Mayor Paul Braun will meet with the people involved to discuss potential amendments to village ordinances next week.
At the center of the incident is Dr. Cary Goldberg with The Center for Dental Excellence, who created several giant toothbrush sculptures for display on the lawn of his office beginning July 16. He thought it would be a fun way to contribute art to the community in the spirit of a project like Chicago's painted cows or Flossmoor's Sculpture Gardens.
"In our opinion, it adds to the beauty and the interest along the Governors Highway corridor here," Goldberg said. "We've been getting very favorable comments from people driving by."
However, the village's planning and zoning department disagreed, ruling that the toothbrushes were in violation of an ordinance regulating the use of commercial signage in the area.
"I know that the doctors argued that it's sculpture, that it might be art, and consequently is not a sign," Planning Director Pat Finn said. "But the zoning ordinance defines 'sign' to include any type of display that's intended to draw attention to a business or an event. A display of multiple, oversized toothbrushes at a dentist's office clearly is a display intended to draw attention to the dental office. So I think the ordinance is pretty clear-cut."
Goldberg complied with the ruling and took the toothbrushes down on July 30, although he said they were popular with patients and locals, and that many people were upset about their removal.
"They're not very happy about it," he said. "They think that we should be allowed to keep them up there, and, you know, once we explain that we're trying that and that the village is working with us, they're a little better. But the initial reaction is actually, patients are very upset."
The dental office has begun an appeals process with the village with the intention of eventually being allowed to display the toothbrushes again.
"I have a meeting set up next week with the mayor, the village manager, and also with Pat Finn to discuss how we could get this changed," Goldberg said. "Because they like it and they think it looks great, but we agreed to comply for now so we can see if we can get this done in the correct way. We weren't intending to have any type of violation of anything against the village ordinance. But we found out we were, and we complied, and we're going to try to get it taken care of so we can put them back up."
Should The Center for Dental Excellence be allowed to keep the toothbrushes on display, or was the village right to have them removed in compliance with the zoning ordinance? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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