Appeals court upholds decision to ban Lady Liberty waver in West Chester

WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - The Twelfth District Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to not allow Liberty Tax Services in West Chester use its Lady Liberty waver as a form of advertisement.

"Seeking a variance from the signage ordinance is an inherent admission that Lady Liberty is a sign, at least for the purposes of the administrative appeal process," the court ruled.

The company claims not being able to use the Lady Liberty advertising hurts business and is a violation of its commercial speech rights.

On the flip side, officials with West Chester Township say this type of character signage is prohibited by the township's zoning guidelines.

In many cities that surround West Chester, you can find Lady Liberty dancing and twirling signs, but in West Chester it's not allowed and Liberty Tax is putting up a fight.

"The wavers job is to get out there, have fun and make eye contact, make that personal connection so people know where we are at," said Liberty Tax Service franchise owner Jack Vyhnalek. He says the Lady Liberty advertising accounts for a third of the company's business.

The West Chester location opened in 2010 and from the start wasn't allowed to have a waver. The township's zoning resolution states, "signs which employ any parts or elements which revolve, rotate, whirl, spin or otherwise make use of motion to attract attention, other than electronic message boards are prohibited."

"We're not going to have trash out here, we are not going to do things that are inappropriate. We simply want a person. We want to employ people in the community, we'll employ five or ten wavers, because of the increased business we'll have more tax people from the community," said Vyhnalek.

Kyle and Lorraine Garth, the owners of Liberty Tax West Chester, said in an e-mail to FOX19 that they are going back to trial court to address the situation again on Nov. 6.

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