Shores Council still debating open house signs

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 3, 2012

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — A proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow open house signs on Sundays has officials and residents torn.

Although some real estate salespeople have said the inability to post open house signs makes selling a home more difficult, several residents have voiced opposition to allowing the signs. The Shores currently limits for-sale signs to a single sign on the property that’s on the market.

The issue was raised by real estate professionals at a meeting of the Shores’ relatively new Ambassador Committee. During a Sept. 18 City Council meeting, Ambassador Committee Chair D.J. Boehm said a number of real estate salespeople locally told the committee that the Shores was at a disadvantage with regard to home sales because it didn’t allow these signs.

City Attorney Mark McInerney provided Shores officials with a possible ordinance amendment, drawing from what he found were the best elements of similar ordinances in other communities. The proposed ordinance would permit open house signs to be on display from noon-6 p.m. Sundays. Signs couldn’t exceed 7 square feet and would only be permitted between the sidewalk and the curb, or, on streets without sidewalks, no closer than 5 feet from the street, he said. Signs on private property would require permission of the homeowner. The council could decide if it wanted to limit the number of signs to two or more, and whether the city would permit the signs on Lake Shore Road islands, McInerney said.

Signs that weren’t picked up by 6 p.m. Sunday could be confiscated by the city and held for up to five days, with a fine to be determined by the city manager for anyone who came to claim them, McInerney said. The city would be able to dispose of unclaimed signs after five days, he said.

Public Safety Director John Schulte said he hadn’t seen any problems since real estate salespeople have been putting up open house signs on Sundays on an interim basis in recent weeks; the council talked about the sign issue at a meeting in July. He said Grosse Pointe Park, his former department, likewise didn’t experience a problem with the signs, which were permitted after that city amended its sign ordinance.

Resident Vito Cusenza, who is also a Realtor, said allowing signs helps people to find homes for sale. He encouraged officials to consider allowing signs in the Lake Shore medians, which he said would allow motorists on both sides of the road to see them.

But others were opposed to permitting the signs. City Council member Daniel Schulte said several residents called him on this issue, and all were against the change. At least one Lake Shore resident has spoken publicly against open house signs. And City Council member Bruce Bisballe agreed with Daniel Schulte that the signs might not be a good idea. Bisballe said he spotted signs still up at 7 a.m. on a recent Monday morning, and he said they were further not in compliance because they failed to have the legal address on them.

“I don’t think we’re selling a lot of homes on the drive by. … We’ve survived so far without it,” Bisballe said, noting that he had seen no anecdotal evidence demonstrating a positive impact on sales from these signs.

Although he said he hated to see the Shores at a competitive disadvantage, Mayor Ted Kedzierski said he agreed with Bisballe and Daniel Schulte on this matter. He said they needed more study before they brought it to a vote.

“I’m not sure that this is in the best interest of the city,” Kedzierski said.

At press time, it was not known when, or if, the council might again take up and possibly vote on this issue. The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at City Hall. For more information, visit the Shores’ website at; meeting agendas are typically posted three days before the meeting date.