(Update 4:52 p.m.)— Councilman David Marks is introducing legislation to impose restrictions on signage outside bail bonds businesses, which community members call inappropriate.
The legislation, which would appear before the County Council on Tuesday, would involve limiting the bail bonds businesses to one 6 square feet sign apiece with no illumination.
The trouble started when Double D Bail Bonds, located at 11 E. Chesapeake Ave.—across from the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library—opened in late 2011 with a sign featuring a busty woman in handcuffs and jail stripes with generous cleavage.
"We thought it was outrageous when that happened way back when," said Paul Hartman, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations. "But we didn't think there was anything we could really do about it."
Marks said matters came to a head when a second bail bonds business, Bail Bonds Inc., installed a large orange sign at the intersection of East Chesapeake and Virginia avenues. He said the county executive's office is having discussions with the businesses regarding the signage.
"I've found [the signs] to be very disturbing," he said. "There has to be a greater sensitivity to the other businesses and residents."
John Turnbull, an attorney for Bail Bonds Inc., said the business' owner has been amenable to discussing the sign, which he says is 10 square feet smaller than what it is legally mandated to be.
"To move forward with [legislation] during negotiations is a show of bad faith," he said. "This is going to be a fight."
Turnbull accused Marks of trying to drive bail bonds shops out of town, arguing that the signage for the upcoming Cinemark Theatre at Towson Square would likely be extravagant.
"The developers [for Towson Square] are probably putting pressure on him [about the bail bonds signs]," he said.
Marks said he has issues with the signage at several bail bonds businesses and is not targeting Bail Bonds Inc. He countered that the theater would be the "gateway" to Towson Square, a 4.2 acre entertainment center bounded by East Joppa Road, Pennsylvania and Virginia avenues
Hartman said some community members would like to see a limit on their number. In addition to Bail Bonds Inc. and Double D Bail Bonds, A-1 Bail Bonds and Elite Bail Bonds are also located on E. Chesapeake Ave, near Baltimore County District Court.
Marks said he looked into the matter, but is ultimately not interested in pursuing legislation related to this.
Turnbull's client was able to erect the sign as a result of up-zoning changes made last summer by Marks, who did so in consideration of other nearby development projects.
"I suppose [the Bail Bonds Inc. sign] is an unintended consequence," Turbull said. "But it is legally allowed to be there."
Patch editor Tyler Waldman contribute to this report.
Correction: The bail bond shop Mr. Turnbull represents was initially incorrectly identified in this article. Patch regrets the error.