City gives variance for mall sign

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Natchez Mall will greet the new millennium with a new sign — but not after a struggle to get past conditions of the city’s sign ordinance.

On Tuesday, the board of aldermen granted the mall a variance from the ordinance, which does not allow for signs larger than 100 square feet.

The sign the mall plans to build is 277.8 square feet, which mall Manager Art Fesmire said is almost half the size of the current 576 square foot sign. &uot;Think about being pro-business as well as being fair to the employees at the mall,&uot; Fesmire told the board. &uot;You’ve given tax incentives to downtown businesses to spruce up their buildings.&uot;

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The zoning board of adjustment had turned down the mall’s request because of the precedent it could set for other businesses, said City Planner David Preziosi.

Because of the size of its frontage, the mall qualifies for three 100-square foot signs under the current sign ordinance. But Fesmire said using three signs would violate the spirit of the sign ordinance because the signs would create more clutter.

&uot;We have an ordinance that does not meet the needs of every case that comes before us,&uot; said Alderwoman Sue Stedman, who recommended that the board ask the city planning department to review the sign ordinance to prevent future complications for similar shopping malls.

Fesmire said he was pleased with the aldermen’s action. The current sign is 20 years old and was grandfathered under the sign ordinance. The new sign will probably be up by February, Fesmire said.

&uot;If we’re going to hang our hat on tourism, they need to be able to see us up here,&uot; he said.