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Donut Factory owner cited for 'air dancer'

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Wendell Grace is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

Attempting to attract customers to his new Donut Factory in The Walden Place on Nottingham Way, Grace purchased an air dancer (a dancing inflatable figure) on eBay and placed it in front of his business.

It attracted attention, of the unwanted kind.

Less than two hours after Grace cranked up his dancer, he was cited by an Albany code enforcement officer for having a "prohibited sign."

"This has really gotten next to me," Grace said Monday. "The city and county already make it hard enough to start a business. It took me seven months of jumping through hoops and one problem after another to even get into this building.

"I've spent $100,000 to keep people working. In this economy, you'd think they'd appreciate that fact. Instead, they hit me with this?"

Grace, who says his air dancer is not a hazard to traffic because it stands in The Walden Place's parking lot more than 200 feet from Nottingham Way and Ledo Road.

"Plus it's not even a sign, it just waves around," Grace said of the red inflatable figure. "I've seen these things all over town before. Well, I'm going to leave it up and let 12 jurors or a judge decide if it's a sign or not."

Chief of Code Enforcement Nathaniel Norman says the issue is cut and dried to him.

"(Air dancers) have been used in the city before and we are currently directing businesses to take them down and we are issuing citations," Norman said."It doesn't matter if it has words on it or not. We consider the object itself to be the sign."

Grace, however, isn't buying that explanation.

"There are flags up and down Ledo that are more of a distraction than this thing," Grace said motioning toward the dancing figure. "At the very least all this fuss will be good for my business. I can't buy advertising this cheap."