Supporters of festive, air-blown lawn décor could find Brookhaven’s latest controversy a little deflating.

The northern ITP city known for palatial homes, top-rated elementary schools, an aversion to transit-oriented development, and strip-club crackdowns has been considering new rules that would allow for inflatable holiday decorations en masse—but talks recently got a little frosty.

Technically, erectable Rudolphs and evergreens (like goblins and big-eyed baby Draculas around Halloween) are outlawed as part of the “prohibited sign” section in Brookhaven code. But that could change.

The controversy started when a perturbed Brookhaven resident lodged a complaint with the city in October about a family’s Minion-heavy cluster of inflatables that’s stood for years around Halloween. It marked the first complaint about inflatables in city history, a Brookhaven spokesperson told Reporter Newspapers.

That gripe appears to have triggered inflatables advocates—literally inflating some of them with anger in defense of the decorations. 

As of this writing, more than 1,360 people have signed an online petition titled “Save Brookhaven Inflatables!” Wrote one commenter name Cheryl in support of the campaign: “Long live the inflatables!” Another claimed to have driven annually from Morningside just so her kids can bask in so much inflated wonderment at the corner of Bailiff Court and Osborne Road.

In response, Brookhaven city leaders drew up an ordinance that would tweak the city’s sign code, allowing residents to blow up inflatables to their heart’s content a month before holidays, so long as they’re removed within a week of the holiday’s conclusion.

But as the newspaper relayed this week, the Brookhaven City Council deferred the ordinance during a recent meeting instead of approving it, claiming there’s too much gray area in the language as relates to safety versus widespread inflatable enthusiasm.  

The sticking point involves public right-of-way around sidewalks (10 feet back from the curb) and whether inflatables should be allowed there. People with small yards might have no other choice but to erect, say, Frosty and family within a high-five’s reach of people walking by.

Snow-persona non grata in Brookhaven right-of-ways? Shutterstock

But so many jolly, bulbous snowpeople near the street could create an issue with sightlines, in that drivers and pedestrians could have a more difficult time seeing each other, especially around corners, as Brookhaven’s city manager pointed out.

Other council members called a ban on inflatables in the city-owned right-of-ways unnecessary, so long as they’re not blocking sidewalks or multi-use pathways.

Mayor John Ernst told the council he was shocked the ordinance focused so much on keeping inflatables out of right-of-ways—and potentially prosecuting infractors—which all but pulled the plug on the legislation as currently written. A revised ordinance, as the newspaper reported, is set to come before the council at its December 14 meeting.  

Until then, all Grinch-y enforcement related to illegal, inflatable holiday décor will be prohibited.

• Brookhaven defers decision on holiday inflatables ruling (Reporter Newspapers

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