There is a debate in Venice over what's appropriate to have in your own yard, and the argument could end up changing a city regulation.
Shane Roessiger is at the heart of the issue. He lives in a house with a large cross outside, and a small sign placed beneath it advertising his bible study group.
"What I believe is wrong is people are taking our 11st Amendment rights and they're using it against Christians," he said.
Roessiger may face a fine if he doesn't take down his small sign. He feels it's an attack on his religious beliefs.
"One hundred percent persecuted. And that's basically good news because the Bible says blessed are those who persecute," Roessiger said.
Venice Mayor John Hollick says it's a matter of code enforcement.
"The city has an issue with a sign. It has nothing to do with a religious sign. There was a sign ordinance written about 30 years ago with the exception of real estate signs and political signs," Hollick said.
That ordinance is 30 years old, and is not something the city is properly staffed to monitor. But when a complaint comes in, they enforce it. The original complaint to the city was instigated by the neighbor who lives next door. She didn't want to appear on camera but she was clear in saying her original concerns had nothing to do with the signs – they were all about the large cross next to it.
"I find the display rather disgusting to see. I don't think it does any good for the neighborhood. It certainly doesn't do anything for real estate values," she said.
With that cross complaint, the sign problem was revealed to the city. Some neighbors say it's all too much, the cross and signs. They want to see them go.
"Both of them. I just believe it's out of place in the neighborhood. The church across the street is enough. If people want to worship they can go to church," said Richard Wegrich,
Others call this simple freedom of speech.
"It's on their personal property. I'm a woman of faith and no matter what your beliefs are, we have the right to express that. It doesn't bother me and I go by it every day," said Missi Youngblood.
The homeowner may have to pay a fine for this if the ordinance stands as is. However, it could go a completely different direction. Because the ordinance is 30 years old, city council is going to look in to its modern day relevance. If they deem the regulation is obsolete, that sign could be the catalyst for updating the old ordinance.
It comes up before the city council in a couple of weeks.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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