Sign ordinance needs new direction

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2010

The city’s sign ordinance has sprouted so many exceptions in recent years that we can’t see the forest for the billboards.

Some signs clearly banned by the current law have been up for years. Recent requests for permission to break the ordinance have been permitted as well.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen believes allowing unique and sometime rule-breaking signs is business friendly, and we all know Natchez needs business.

OK, that’s fine. Let’s fix the ordinance then.

The city’s leaders need an ordinance in which they can believe, support and enforce. Otherwise we are teaching our citizens that bending, or breaking, the rules is fine.

The aldermen need to begin making amendments to the law on the books.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said Tuesday that revisions were in order; Mathis is correct, as is the timing.

The city is currently between city planners.

Getting the law straight as soon as a new planner is hired is wise so that aldermen and the planner can all get on the same page about how the law should be written and interpreted.

But the revisionists must keep a few things in mind.

Natchez is special because of its history and its look.

Flashing, blinking, scrolling or otherwise loud signs will take away from what makes us what we are. Billboards next to antebellum homes won’t encourage tourists to take pretty photos of our town and share them with friends. Neither do overhead utility wires.

Downtown is sacred and should be treated as such.

Business can and will thrive without oversized, neon signs. Just look at the success of the city of Madison.

It’s high time the city sign ordinance offered direction the board is willing to follow, and we are glad the issue is finally up for real attention.