VIDEO: Time to un-deck those walls, say Hilton Head officials

tbarton@islandpacket.comJanuary 9, 2012 

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The holidays are over and the Town of Hilton Head Island wants everyone to know it -- no more reindeer, no more lights, no more bearded, jolly fat guy in a red suit. By the end of today, all outdoor holiday decorations must be removed from businesses, or owners risk a fine.

A little-known, seldom-enforced provision of the land management ordinance restricts outdoor holiday decorations for commercial properties to the Friday after Thanksgiving until Jan. 10. It also prohibits flashing or blinking lights for businesses.

"It was probably done in keeping the philosophy of the nature-blending character of Hilton Head Island," said town LMO official Teri Lewis.

The provision has been on the books since at least 1998, according to Lewis.

In recent years, the town has issued press releases to remind businesses to return to the island's "natural look."

Fortunately, no one's been fined in the past three to five years, town attorney Brian Hulbert said.

"Code enforcement will go out sometime after Tuesday to check and will give businesses a warning if their decorations are still up," Lewis said.

The town gave out nine warnings last year, compared to 38 in 2010 and 29 in 2009.

Businesses that don't eventually comply can get hit with more than a lump of coal -- a fine up to $1,092.50.

"For the most part, people remove the decorations by Jan. 10, and if they're not aware and told to remove them, they do so promptly," Lewis said. "It hasn't been a problem for us."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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