West, Frazier upset over sign code enforcement

Published 12:11am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NATCHEZ — Two candidates in next week’s city elections contend enforcement of the city’s campaign sign ordinance is unfair and inconsistent.

Mayoral candidate Phillip West and Ward 2 alderman candidate Billie Joe Frazier received hand-delivered letters Monday stating that they had campaign signs on Martin Luther King Jr. Street that are too big.

City code only allows for signs eight square feet or smaller.

The letter, signed by Willie B. Jones, who handles the city’s code enforcement in the planning department, says the planning department would remove any oversized signs still displayed after 5 p.m. Monday.

But West and Frazier said they posted the signs only after City Planner Bob Nix said in March that the city would not be enforcing the sign ordinance during campaign season.

Nix later said, at a board of aldermen meeting, that the city would in fact enforce the code, giving verbal and written notice to violators.

But West says he received no notice prior to Monday’s letter.

Nix said, however, that Jones had notified both West and Frazier of the violations verbally last week.

Frazier confirmed that he was contacted by the city.

“They got verbal notice and they didn’t react to it so we sent written notices,” Nix said. “They got more than the required notice.”

Nix said city crews would check on the signs today and remove them if they are still in violation.

But West said he has spoken with the property owners where his large signs are posted, and they don’t intend to have the signs removed.

“The property owners have said they aren’t authorizing any city employees on the property,” West said.

If city employees encounter trouble enforcing the law, Nix said, they would contact the police and pursue action through municipal court.

West said he had asked his attorney to contact Nix over the matter Monday and would pursue legal action against the city over the matter if necessary.

“There was no reason for me to think I was going to receive a letter today,” West said. “That has never been told to me, and it’s totally unfair. The city should have had everyone comply from the beginning, not be arbitrarily doing it based on complaints.

“I would not have invested money into something that I was going to have to tear down and destroy.”

West said other candidates clearly have signs posted in the rights of way and therefore in violation of the sign code all over town.

Nix confirmed that his office has been quite busy as of late enforcing the sign code and said that a number of candidates have had signs in violation, but that most have complied with requests to remove them.

In addition, Nix said he is happy to meet with candidates to answer questions about their sign placement, something he said he had done with Frazier.

“Mr. Frazier came down to my office and sat down with me, and we had a lengthy discussion about how he could use his oversized signs in a manner that is in compliance,” Nix said.

His advice to Frazier included checking county regulations and possibly hanging the signs in a high-trafficked area in the county.

Frazier said Monday night that he did plan to remove his oversized signs, but that he simply did not know the rules about signs before the election.

“Apparently someone dropped the ball,” Frazier said. “We should have been informed before we spent money on signs.”

Nix said all candidates who qualified before the deadline received a packet of information about the sign code. Frazier said he did not receive that package. (View Nix’s memo to candidates here).

Nix said the only other major concern with signs of which he is aware was resolved two weeks ago when Mayor Jake Middleton removed an oversized sign hanging on a downtown building.

“Generally candidates have been doing their best to comply,” Nix said. “I think they know what the code is and they have a decision to make as to whether or not they will abide by the code. They are running for public office and setting an example for everyone in the city.”

Nix did say that, after this election, he would like to revisit the sign code with the board of aldermen and loosen some of its restrictions to prevent another election debate like the current one.

And he acknowledged that it was a misunderstanding between himself and City Attorney Everett Sanders that led to some confusion early on about sign code enforcement.

But the board of aldermen requested, after that point, that the code be enforced, Nix said.

“We can’t just ignore our instructions from the board,” Nix said. “We are trying to bend over backwards to get everyone to comply, and these are our potential future bosses.”

 

 

 

  • Anonymous

    i guess we have a discrimination suit heading the way of natchez now, ,bucket has been disenfranchised

  • tigereye1

    Really ? With all the things that need to be addressed by the politicians in Natchez , you are going to squabble over a couple of signs  !

  • Anonymous

    Brown and West have shown their willingness to disobey rules even during the campaign, what will they do if elected?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CNEGJEREYHUI5BRK2QOT4GXCNI Big

    Really with all that Natchez has to offer and we are arresting people for stealing………This is what your comment says to me……..Yes really a law is  a law  a rule is a rule.   FOLLOW IT and there will be nothing to worry about.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CNEGJEREYHUI5BRK2QOT4GXCNI Big

    Peeps grow up….follow the rules and Folks listen a Law is a law and a rule is a rule. It is simple as that……

  • Anonymous

    What a pity,  they’re upset.

  • Anonymous

     Come now, you know laws and rules are only for us “little people”. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    West sure got the schools straightened out and in tip top shape. Butch is going to find a way to make money as mayor. Jake is going to continue keeping a chair warm. I might vote for the other guy.

  • Anonymous

    ARE YOU SURE YOU BEND OVER BACKWARD NIX?; WITH-IN THE CITY OF NATCHEZ, YOU ONLY SPOTTED TWO CANDIDATES SIGNS IN VIOLATION, AND IT SO HAPPEN TO BE TWO BLACK MALES; NIX, I TELL YOU, YOU ARE DOING A D.. GOOD JOB DIVIDING THE CITY. YOU ARE ONE OF THE ONES THAT THE SHOE FITS, AND I MEAN, FIT WELL. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE ANY TROUBLE WALKING OR RUNNING IN THEM. 

  • Anonymous

    All said and done, this is all we get to vote for, people who will not follow simple rules and make up their own as they go along their merry way.Sign ordinance should read, NO SIGNS ALLOWED and be done with it..

  • Anonymous

    Why would West, a mayorial candidate, want to put signs up in the county?  They can’t vote for the mayor.  This is what happens the city itself has decided it wasn’t going to enforce sign ordinances and then go back and enforce them on a select few.  Whoever was responsible for “not enforcing” our ordinances as a public official cause a lawsuit just like that.

  • Anonymous

     So it’s Nix who is causing the problem by enforcing the rules and not the two black males who are breaking the rules that divides the city?

    Sadly, that attitude is par for the course.  Rules is RACIST!!!!!!1111one!!!11

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    I’ve got to be opened minded on this and the facts for Nix was wish washy on the sign ordinaince at the start to my opinion to side with B. Brown and now he changes and that not going to work??!!! Yes, the city may have a lawsuit if they persue it and will lose!!! Nix needs to be called on the red carpet by Jake but there you go!!!! Terrible Situation huh”??!!!!

  • Anonymous

    He wants to put them up out where he lives.

  • Anonymous

    I guess they could add signs to the front of the audio shop in front of KMart and no one would notice how big they were.

  • Anonymous

    Funny – the outcry about these signs has far exceeded the attention over where certain candidates RESIDE. To quote some…”rules is rules, and laws is laws”..”enforce all of them or none of them…”. WOW! I can see where the outrage over the size of a political sign where two black candidates are concerned is FAR AND AWAY more important than where two of the WHITE candidates RESIDE.
    NOW…can you blame blacks for feeling that they are always “under the gun” and having differant rules for them?
    “Laws is laws, and rules are rules”. Maybe West and Frazier could claim the signs-somehow- as homestead exemption…..

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget West is scamming on his residence also.

  • Anonymous

    He will have to pay the pIper when one of the offenders gets elected.

  • Anonymous

    OSG, really? And I mean that in the true sense. Is he really doing the Brown/Furlow Two-Step? It is revolting and should be illegal. The qualifications need to be re-written to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR about having to LIVE/RESIDE inside the city. And not only for the 30 days leading up to election, but for the time after the winner is elected! What is to keep Brown/Furlow/West,  should one of them be elected, from simply “returning” to the county?
    Stinks to high heaven!

  • Anonymous

    Oldsouthgent:The audio shop don’t look no better than BigMomma’s The BBQ place got a sign on the roof and down the brick wall.What is the problem?