Kingwood business facing big fines for having flags outside store


KINGWOOD, Texas – A flop over a city ordinance may force the owners of a pet store to remove flags in front of their business. The flags were installed to help attract customers post-Harvey.

"Hey, we're alive again. There's life in Kingwood. Everybody, we're here," said Jan Stevens, describing the role of the flags, colorful pennants, which she and her husband had installed last month.

Harvey dumped over three feet of water into the Kent and Jan Stevens' store, Pet Ranch, located in a strip mall in the 4400 block of Kingwood Drive.

"There are five of us who were able to come back and actually continue business," Jan Stevens said.

Pet Ranch has been in business for 40 years.

Since Harvey, small businesses in the Kingwood area have had a hard time recovering. Many neighbors in the strip mall where Pet Ranch is located have yet to return.

The pennants, according to the couple, attract customers, letting them know they are open for business.

The flags also violate city code, which outlaws so-called attention-getting devices, such as flags, ribbons, and other items attached to a structure.

An inspector from the city's Sign Administration cited the Stevens this week.

The Stevens told KPRC2 they are not challenging the law and understand its purpose.

"I gotta respect the fact that they are doing their job," Kent Stevens said.

Still, they're pleading for an exception, considering the need to draw up the area's customer base.

"We so respect the law. It's a law. No question about that. We're just asking for a little variation in it," Jan Stevens added.

The Stevens have until the first week of July to remove the flags. They said they will do so, to avoid a fine of up to $500 per day.

In the meantime, the couple is asking for an exception.

The flags, they said, help generate eyeballs -- and customers -- to their business and others.

"It's more important to generate tax revenues in the Kingwood area than it is to enforce a citation," Jan Stevens said.