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Marks Aims to Limit Bail Bonds Signage

Towson residents have complained about the innappropriate signage outside the businesses.

(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.

M. Sullivan January 22, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Nuts! These signs are no more outrageous or obnoxious than many of the hundreds of signs up and down York Rd., especially the super bright LED signs which can be very distracting. How can the County limit the signage for just one type of business because it happens to offend some delicate sensibilities? Limit them all!
JDStuts January 22, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Campaign contributions? This is Marks scoring easy points. He's in damage control mode due to his fire station boondoggle. He's selling county land in a down market and relocating it right on top his voters in West Towson. If it hadn't been for the influence of Brochin he'd probably destroyed a park as well. These bail bond places are small niche businesses with probably only a handful of possible votes and thus easily dismissed. Towson residents are quickly learning the troubles associated with being represented by someone from the other side of the county. He doesn't live here so he walks away from these problems every night.
Dan January 22, 2013 at 09:06 PM
On a side note, that park you speak of is pretty lame. I never see anyone there but kids smoking at night.
Stark January 22, 2013 at 09:49 PM
"Stuts," get a life. You are a relentlessly negative, hyperpartisan fool. You obviously have some hatred/jealousy for David Marks. He's a great Councilman and you're going to have him around for a long time. Begone, troll.
Bart January 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM
As a Towson resident and a Democrat, I am thrilled with David Marks - and yes, his leadership on the park issue was outstanding. Stuts is too partisan to admit Marks' incredible work in Towson. Hey Stuts, do you discriminate against other groups of people along with anyone from Perry Hall?
Needaname January 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Maybe one of the drunk students will drive into the Statewide sign across from District court on their way home from the Towson bars. The sign is just standing there in the dirt.
Needaname January 23, 2013 at 01:08 PM
The $400,000 townhouses that where just constructed may have been a deciding factor.
Raymond Saunders January 23, 2013 at 02:40 PM
If by "the park" you mean Towson Manor Park, is much loved by the surrounding community. Those of us who live nearby highly value the playgrounds and fields. We fought to create the park 20 years ago, fought to keep it this fall, and will fight to keep it again if necessary.
Raymond Saunders January 23, 2013 at 02:42 PM
The signs in question are out of place. What is appropriate for commercial York Road is not appropriate for business and residential areas. Kudos to Marks for responding to constituent concerns and wading into a messy fight. I hope he wins.
D Schmid January 23, 2013 at 04:18 PM
The sign is directly across the street from Catholic Charities, a home for the elderly, and a few feet away from a small church. It really looks strange, not only because of its large size and ugly orange color, but it's angled in a strange way so that it's facing towards District Court.
K Blue January 23, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Who owns the property where these businesses and signs are located?
K Blue January 23, 2013 at 06:38 PM
JDStuts, I think you are wrong about Marks. He spends more time and attention on Towson issues than our previous multi-term councilman ever did, as well as the other areas he represents. The fire station "boondoggle" was not his doing. That was the work of the short-sighted engineers in the County. Marks was clearly opposed to the repurposing of Towson Manor Park for the station relocation. He worked hard with the County Executive's office to find a more suitable location that does not rob the community of designated open space. While you may think the bail bond business is small niche, its big business.
Speezack January 25, 2013 at 03:35 AM
I ran into this situation in Virginia, where I am a licensed bondsman but it wasn't because the sign was 'out of line' or blocking something or even offending anyone... it was because one person... who happened to be connected politically, thought that "bail bonds" was a.... "garish" business... (her word)... of course it was on private property, with permission from the landowner, it was done very tastefully, even had been landscaped... provided nothing but the name and phone and in very subdued colors... and the fact that "bail bonds" is actually addressed in our Constitution and is a civil right, ended the problem... I will submit that signs of any persuasion, should be held to a standard that is acceptable by the general public, and BTW... we were compliant with all DOT rules and regulations and had cleared all with the state and the highway dept.... that is the only proper way to do anything that is in the public light. Jump through the proper hoops and do it properly. I contend that if you go about these things in a professional and straight forward manner... most anything can be accomplished.
Steven January 25, 2013 at 10:51 PM
The author of the article is misinformed and not well educated on what signs are where. Statewide bail bonds Inc. is located nowhere near Chesapeake Avenue. Statewide Bail Bonds Inc. is located on York Road. Check the facts before you print an article.
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fastbailout April 19, 2013 at 05:46 PM
I truly think the area where the office is plays a huge role in this decision.

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