Sign issue shows why city planner needed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 12, 2002

The City of Natchez hired a city planner this week, and none too soon, as an action aldermen took they same day underscores why we need a city planner in the first place.

Aldermen have hired Robert Jackson, who now is tribal planner and grant writer for the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

He starts work in January. We hope one of the first things he will be able to do is remind the board of aldermen of its responsibilities in reviewing decisions from various boards.

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Case in point: On Tuesday, aldermen heard an appeal from the owners of Dunleith,

who want to put up a 7-by-12 foot sign on the property. That sign would violate the current sign ordinance, so the zoning board had turned it down.

As is their right, the owners of Dunleith appealed to the board of aldermen &045; who overturned the zoning board’s decision.

The aldermen’s hearts were in the right place &045; they wanted to be &uot;business-friendly&uot; &045; but the decision sets a bad precedent.

According to the city’s own zoning ordinance, aldermen must try such appeals &uot;solely on the question of whether the (zoning) board has acted beyond the limits of its powers or abused its discretion.&uot;

We don’t believe either case is true here.

Perhaps a city planner could have mediated a better solution to this issue. We’re certain the aldermen, zoning board and preservation commission have missed having a professional to give them advice about such matters.

The issue isn’t whether the sign should be there; it’s whether the aldermen are following their own rules, rules designed to protect all businesses and residents.