Giant Toothbrushes Stir Up Flossmoor

The removal of sculptures from the lawn of a dental office sparks a debate about Flossmoor's zoning ordinances.

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 , 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!

Want more local government news, delivered fresh to your inbox every morning? Sign up for our daily newsletter!

James Sylvester August 03, 2012 at 02:13 PM
The village has spies out every day checking on taxpayers. Now we have the toothbrush Police. Leave people alone......
GladvilleGirl August 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I love the CDE, and I love this photo, by the way. Flossmoor seems a little bugnuts sometimes.
Andrew Tinberg August 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM
The creative thought and entrepreneurial spirit at its best! As a community, we should support this aesthetically pleasing, artisitic approach to wellness.
Robin Mcelligott August 03, 2012 at 02:34 PM
OMG! I can't believe that the village would make them take them down. Attract people to a business now there's a concept. I would think that the village would want people to go to a business in town. Im sure the dentist office pays a large tax bill every year! Why shouldn't they be able to attract business to help pay those taxes. I think the tooth brushes are a conversation piece. "Hey did you see those giant toothbrushes in "Flossmoor, aren't they cool!." What a great positive thing for the town of Flossmoor. Hey CDE maybe if you do a Giant Box of FLOSS , your town of FLOSSmoor won't mind. "I'm just saying" ;(
Randall Starewicz August 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
That's one of the major problems today with the country...everyone is skeptical about everything...looking for ulterior motives...would the village rather have graffiti all over the place...I never thought anything but "how cool" as I drive by...ridiculous...there ARE gray areas of life!!!!!!!
Ron Wexler August 03, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I love Cary and his entire crew they are so high spirited and fun and they do an amazing job taking care of my entire family....having made that disclosure: I loved the giant toothbrushes!! Wish I could have a giant house setting around town with my name on it!! I hope they figure out a mutually agreeable way to get them back up.
FlossmoorMom August 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This is outrageous! Flossmoor is crazy with these things...it's like the stupid pickup truck rule....
Jay Heiferman August 03, 2012 at 02:56 PM
The giant toothbrushes are a fun display. Pop-up pop art is cool! Maybe make it seasonal. Next year: wrap the building in floss!
Todd E. Stein August 03, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Stop being so damn prickly, and have a sense of humor!!!!. Toothbrushes should stay!!!
Deborah Vandenberg August 03, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I am shocked in this phrase of the ordinance: "display that's intended to draw attention to a business". Really, Flossmoor? Doesn't that seem silly in light of all the small businesses closing these past few years? Doesn't removal of the display "draw attention to a business?" It's been my experience that these towns make a business jump through so many hoops, you wonder why anyone would want to open a business. Let's have another empty store front instead.
Darlene Giesbrecht August 03, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Flossmoor seems like an ideal place for dentists. Maybe giant dental floss would be acceptable to the ordinance police. Get over yourselves!
Kendall Goldberg August 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Me too!
Kendall Goldberg August 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Kendall Goldberg August 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Definitely. Please keep the toothbrushes up!
Kendall Goldberg August 03, 2012 at 03:45 PM
KEEP THE TOOTHBRUSHES UP!!!! My kids LOVE the dentist now! Of course, what isn't to love about the Center for Dental Excellence. Those toothbrushes were the icing on the cake for my family's trip to CDE the other day!! KEEP THEM UP!!!!!!!
Juvenal August 03, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Mr Finn has never had to make a payroll that wasn't funded by someone else's money and was no clue about people trying to earn a living and market a business where the health care isn't free and the pension guaranteed. I hope the Trustees bitch-slap this heavy handed action -- but they are usually too meek to rock the boat and exercise any real control over the paid staff of the Village, even when it is in the interests of the citizens and taxpayers.
Juvenal August 03, 2012 at 05:02 PM
The ordinance doesn't necessarily need changing -- if its interpretation were left to persons with common sense and good judgment.......
Ray B. August 03, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I thought the toothbrushes were very unique and added a nice touch along Governors Hwy. What a thoughtful piece of art. Too bad they were required to be removed. I think they looked better than having signs of space for rent which are displayed in a lot of locations.
Granny B August 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I would rather look at a giant toothbrush than look at the strange sculpture in some of Flossmoor's public parks!
Deanna McIntyre August 03, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I am amazed to hear do many negative comments against the Flossmoor ordinances and staff. The 'rules' are in place to protect the investments of all. They are there so people have to care for their lawns, buildings, etc. This is not a statement about how fun or neat the toothbrushes are. It's about the laws that protect us. If you don't like the village or the ordinances, move out; there are hundreds of of homes which have been forclosed on or are for sale in Chicago Heights, Park Forest and other local towns.
Robin Mcelligott August 03, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Ms. McIntyre I agree that rules are in place to protect the investments of all. But what harm is an oversized toothbrush. I can't see why having them on display harms any of your "investments" or anyone else for that matter. I also find it very dis -heartening that you would make the comment "move out, there are plenty of homes in Chicago Heights and Park forest that have been foreclose on". As sad as that is, there are plenty in Flossmoor as well. Why would you want to encourage more empty houses. As far as the negative comments against the Flossmoor Staff. I think people are just expressing their concerns on the Flossmoor Staff focusing their time on more important stuff in the village besides toothbrushes. I am sure you can think of better things for you tax dollars to do. Leave the toothbrushes to the tooth-fairy.
Customer August 03, 2012 at 08:56 PM
@Robin Mcelligott- yes yes!
J Valuch August 03, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Flossmoor -- wake up! Support your businesses. The toothbrushes are awesome. They are fun and certainly help the looks of Governor's Highway. Dr. Goldberg and all of CDE are the best.
Juvenal August 03, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Flossmoor's adoption and enforcement of "quality of life' ordinances is, at best, inconsistent. They do next to nothing about plenty of true eyesores, and then get all worked up about the stupidest things. The trustees have not come up with any ordinances to reflect current problems, while the staff run around enforcing 1960s era ordinances seemingly at random.
Kathy C. August 03, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I am a patient at the Center for Dental Excellence. To those of you who need an EXCELLENT Dentist, please stop by and meet the Doctors and their wonderful staff! I applaud the Doctors for following the proper protocol to resolve this situation. Does the Village of Flossmoor know this is 2012? It seems that the Village would want to keep families and businesses in the community. The toothbrushes were an innovative idea by one of the Doctors. Ingenious!!! And in response to Granny B, what is with some of the sculptures in the community? I wish The Center for Dental Excellence good luck in bringing back their TOOTHBRUSHES. I also hope that the Center for Dental Excellence profits from all the wonderful compliments the office has received in lieu of the controversy.
Chris August 04, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Ooo. I love time travel! They took them down on Aug. 30! But back to the issue - everyone must be nuts. Those ugly toothbrushes aren't "art" -- they're just big, ugly toothbrushes.
Christina August 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Well said!
Mary Lou Coleman August 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Loved the toothbrushes. I would vote for them over some of the other "art" displayed in the community. Someone earlier said that flowers by a sign or tables outside a restaurant also draw attention to a business. Isn't that the point? Businesses need all the help they can get. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I can visualize a big Tomato Soup Can on canvas at an Art Institute. The toothbrushes were whimsical and fun to see. BRING THEM BACK!
SHUSSBAR August 08, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I agree the ordinance is weird but then what is next : a giant bra in front of a lingerie store? A giant bottle of wine in front of a liquor store? Maybe the dentist office or other biz could have them on display for a limited period of time to raise awareness to dental care or to promote their business, but not permanently? Just a suggestion to find a compromise
Christa Arvay August 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
make a toothbrush fence so you can say the toothbrushes are not only nice to look at but functional. Maybe that will get you past the law.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »