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Follow the sign, clean up our city

Gentle reminders sometimes pop up in the most unexpected places.

Who would have thought an out-of-town fast-food restaurant chain would give Natchez a quick nudge of common sense and business sense?

But that’s exactly what the owners of the new Wendy’s restaurant did when it became the latest Natchez business to construct a tasteful, low-to-the-ground, professional sign to mark its location.

The sign was reminiscent of the signs seen in one of Mississippi’s model cities — the City of Madison. There all signs confirm strictly to their sign ordinance.

Wendy’s isn’t the only local business with sign taste. Go-Mart, a convenience store and restaurant on U.S. 61 South, erected a similarly tasteful sign years ago, not because someone forced them to, but because they believed it looked better.

Natchez has a sign ordinance of its own. Unfortunately, through the years, the ordinance has been poorly and inconsistency enforced. Further, it’s not been kept in sync with other city rules and regulations, and in some cases, city rules apparently conflict with one another.

Critics always suggest restrictive sign ordinances harm business, but their argument isn’t proven in practice.

Wendy’s just had to hire an off-duty police officer to help handle the high traffic they’re experiencing, and the last time we drove through Madison, all the parking lots were full, too.

Getting Natchez’s sign clutter under control and making the city’s rules easy to understand and follow should be a goal of the city’s administration. It’s a little thing in the minds of some, but it’s a huge chance to improve our first impression.