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Despite city ordinance, casino signs are back up

JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —  Less than 24 hours after they were removed from the fencing at the top of Roth Hill Road in Natchez, two large banners for Magnolia Bluffs Casino were back on display on Saturday.
JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —
Less than 24 hours after they were removed from the fencing at the top of Roth Hill Road in Natchez, two large banners for Magnolia Bluffs Casino were back on display on Saturday.

NATCHEZ — A day after city officials took down signs for the Magnolia Bluffs Casino, the business has replaced the banners at the top of Roth Hill Road.

The signs — which direct customers to the casino at the bottom of Roth Hill — were taken down Friday because Natchez planning department officials said the casino did not have a permit for the signs, which also violate city sign size restrictions. City Planner Frankie Legaux said at the time she had contacted the casino’s management to remove the signs Monday, but they remained until code enforcement officer Anita Smith removed them.

Casino President Kevin Preton said Friday the signs were needed because potential customers did not know how to get to the casino, which opened in December.

Saturday afternoon, Preston said the signs were replaced Friday evening after unsuccessfully trying to contact Legaux.

“In respect to the business, we need to leave the signs up until we can come up with a plan,” Preston said. “We are trying to do the right thing.”

The casino president said he would be meeting with Natchez Mayor Butch Brown Monday morning to come to an agreement about the sign issue.

“We want to work with the city to come up with the best plan we can,” Preston said.

Brown said Saturday that the casino had violated the spirit of the law by putting the signs back up, but — while the city has the right to take the signs down again — he saw no reason “in the spirit of harmony” to take action over the weekend.

“If they are willing to pay the fines that will be imposed, I think we can live another day with the sign up,” Brown said. “You get a ticket for speeding, you get a ticket for driving around a stopped school bus, you get a citation for all sorts of violations, and those violations are covered by laws and ordinances that are in place. It doesn’t allow for a selective use of those ordinances, they belong and apply to everyone, and as the chief executive officer of the City of Natchez, I will enforce the laws and ordinances of the city.”

“The fact that they have taken it upon themselves to knowingly violate the law is going to impede any conciliatory situation we were going to work out. Obstinacy in this instance is certainly punishable.”