Updated:CASSELBERRY, Fla. —
A contentious battle is resurfacing between Casselberry and a local business.
The owner of Cash for
Gold on US 17-92 said city leaders are stomping on her right to free speech by fining her for using sign spinners to advertise.
But the city said it is considered commercial speech and Lei Keene is hiding behind the First Amendment.
Casselberry is slapping Keene with the fines for violating a city ordinance that bans sign spinners. The fines add up to roughly $500 a day, Keene said.
"Employing people and helping the small businesses in this area should be a priority for them," she said.
Keene believes the fines violate her right to free speech because the writing on the signs protest the ordinance.
The dispute has been going on for two years, but recently the city discovered case law, which determined a sign is not free speech if it is an economic motivation, proposing a commercial transaction or a misleading advertisement.
The city believes the Cash for Gold signs fall into all three categories.
Code enforcement said people can only see the Cash for Gold text when driving by. To see the text protesting the ordinance, one must be much closer, officials said.
"I think it's more commercial and I really am against the signs, because its distracting," said driver Donna Chipps.
"It is absolutely about our business, but when you violate my right to run my business, then it becomes about my First Amendment right," said Keene.
Despite the small print, the city is still issuing fines, while Keene refuses to pay them.
"We have a right to free speech and the city of Casselberry does not have a right to tell us not to do that," she said.