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Springfield Clown Could go to Court

A city of Springfield says a local clown can't keep a sign up that advertises his clowning services because he's in a residential neighborhood.

January 14, 2013|Joanna Small

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A local clown may be headed for court and he's not laughing.  He's refused to take down a yard sign the city of Springfield says is illegal.  His house is in an area zoned single family residential and according to city ordinance no signs promoting a business can be there.

  The city says Spangle the  Clown was warned back in 2011 and he's had plenty of time to take this down.  Spangle's version of events is a bit different.

  Clowning around has never been more productive.  That's because it's business; when you're a professional clown who is so serious about your career you're a literal advertisement.

  "Spangle is the first name, The is the middle name, Clown is the last," Spangle tells us.  Yes, that's his "real" name.

  "The judge said 'you have to understand once I grant you this you'll probably have a hard time picking up a girl,'" he remembers, laughing.

  Not a problem; he's already got Daisy Mae.  They're partners in business too; the two clowns pose together on their sign.  Now that's the real problem.  The city of springfield has been asking Spangle to remove a large sign against his neighbor's fence for two years.

  "We have written letters, assigned them to the property owner as well as to Spangle the Clown, both, informing them of the issue," says Chris Straw, Director of Building Development for the city.

  Spangle says he thought the issue had been dropped until last week when he got another visit from the building development department, and along with it,  a more viable threat.

  "He said he was going to ask the city to fine me $1,000 a day to a date dating back to 2011, which is like over $400,000," he tells us.

  Straw says the more likey response would be a ticket every day Spangle refuses to comply with city ordinance, but that's the worst case scenario.

  "If he took it down now I close the case, tell him thank you very much and we're done," says Straw.

  It's not quite that simple for Mr. Clown.

  "This is how I make my living; they're messing with my bread and butter," he explains, and tere's nothing funny about that.

  Part of the reason there's been some confusion is this list.  It's all the complaints the building development department has to look into.  So when someone complains, as they did about this sign back in 2011, it takes awhile for staff to make sure people are complying.

  Just because it's been two years doesn't mean the issue is dropped.  In 2012 alone the department looked into nearly 1,200 sign violations.

  Spangle The clown has until January 18th, ten days after the last letter was sent, to remove the sign or be ticketed.  He has not received a ticket to date.

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