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Quelling sign dispute smart move by board

Natchez aldermen made a wise move this week in attempting to quell a dispute over a sign on the Natchez bluff.

The issue arose recently between the City of Natchez and Magnolia Bluffs Casino. The casino’s leadership, it seems, forgot in their multi-million-dollar plan that the casino’s location at the foot of Roth Hill Road is relatively secluded from public view.

That’s great if you’re a local resident who simply doesn’t want to see the casino, but if you’re marketing a casino, it’s a bad location, badly in need of a sign.

Ditto for the Isle of Capri at neighboring Natchez Under-the-Hill.

The challenge for both casinos has been the requirement that local casinos be physically located on the Mississippi River. Natchez’s high perch over the Mississippi River doesn’t yield high visibility of what’s directly below.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said last week that he’d tried to look the other way when Magnolia Bluffs erected an off-premise sign on the public bluff. Such is against the city’s sign ordinance.

Alderman Dan Dillard led a unanimous decision by members of the board of aldermen Tuesday to seek a modification to the sign ordinance allowing off-premise signs for casinos. While perhaps not fair to other businesses with visibility problems, if the ordinance is crafted carefully, it may still preserve a bit of taste in what could otherwise grow out of control.

Though, the public’s bluff land shouldn’t simply be given away. Perhaps a small patch of land could be leased to the two casinos and that lease money applied to the Natchez Trails Project or other riverfront development.

The bluff remains solely in the public domain and thus needs to be carefully protected. Rules governing the signs should not be at a detriment to either business interests or the public’s view of the beautiful Mississippi River.