Q: Why does the city and county allow all of those “we buy houses for cash” signs that are littering everywhere? In my neighborhood they’ve been mailed to power poles about 15 feet off the ground. If sign ordinances were enforced and fines imposed, I’m sure we would see fewer of them.


Answer: “No person, firm or corporation shall place, or attach or affix in any way to any tree, telephone or electric light pole, post, or other object, any card, board, sign or advertising matter (hereinafter, collectively ‘advertisements’) within any street, street right-of-way or public square within the city,” city code 70-17 says on this matter.

Translation: Winston-Salem’s code of ordinances states that private signs are prohibited in the right of way and on utility poles.

There are some exceptions: The prohibition does not apply to political signs on state-maintained roads, or to real-estate or yard-sale lead-in signs installed from Friday noon to the following Monday noon.

You can call City Link at 336-727-8000 or 311 to report signs that are where they shouldn’t be.

“We investigate each complaint and issue notices and citations where appropriate,” said Desmond Corley, land use coordinator with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning and Development Services.

They also perform routine “sign pulls”on weekdays as time permits, and where a violation is found, sign owners and installers may be fined for each sign that is found to be in violation.

“During routine sign pulls, we typically only remove signs along major and minor thoroughfares and do not enter residential subdivisions,” Corley said.

The difficulty with this, he said, is that “there are too many signs to collect in any single pull, and they reappear almost as quickly as they are removed. To compound this, the ownership of signs like the ones described by your reader is nearly impossible to assign.”

He said that City Link remains a valuable tool for reporting illegal signs for their enforcement staff to take care of. “If signs are installed inside of a residential subdivision, or a citizen has complaints about signs that have not been removed, please let us know using City Link,” he said.

Q: I saw photos on the Journal website of the demolition of a building on Spruce Street. I seem to recall it going up when I was a child; what was it?


Answer: The building you are referring to is the former Security Life and Trust building, which opened in June 1963 with an open house featuring tours and souvenirs. The building later became part of GMAC, and is now being taken down as the first step of a project that will add 244 apartments to downtown Winston-Salem, as Journal reporter Richard Craver wrote about earlier this week.

Local historian Fam Brownlee wrote a history of that property, and previous incarnations of Security Life and Trust, in an interesting blog post at the library’s North Carolina Room, which includes photos and illustrations including a look at the 1963 newspaper ad promoting the “ultra-modern new structure” and describing it as “a progressive landmark for our community and state.”

You can find it online at

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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