Two motions to change Starkville sign ordinance fail

STARKVILLE – The city will continue its ordinance on the signs as it is.

Due to an ordinance approved by the council of aldermen in 2011, all pole signs throughout the city must descend and in turn may be replaced with a strictly coded monument sign. After discussion on Tuesday, the council decided to maintain the ordinance citing aesthetics and fairness as its reasoning.

Defined in the Starkville Code of Ordinances, a monument panel is any ground panel supported entirely by a solid base of masonry, brick or other material, the base of which is not less than 80 percent of the width total area of ​​the sign, while a post sign means any sign erected, constructed or maintained for the purpose of displaying outdoor advertising … affixed in the ground or on the ground and not attached to any part of it. a building.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said the intent of the ordinance regulates signs across the city, making them more uniform and contributing to the city’s overall aesthetic. The traffic signs described should not exceed 80 square feet and no more than eight feet in height and be at least five feet from the nearest road.

“I believe it improves the aesthetics of the community,” Spruill said. “I think having all these signs up in the air over the years, there was no sign restriction whatsoever. It didn’t improve the look of our community and I think aesthetics are important.

Spruill said it sent letters to all non-compliant businesses two weeks ago advising them that they have until May 5, 2022 to remove their signs. Although the ordinance was passed in 2011, these companies were only made aware when the board of directors first passed the ordinance and when Spruill sent letters a few weeks ago, but it did said there had been a lot of discussion over the years on the subject and believed all businesses were aware of this regulation.

One hundred and eighty letters have been sent to businesses across town with pole signs due to be filed by May, while around 80 to 90 businesses have already complied with the ordinance in the past 10 years, a said Spruill. If, on the due date, businesses still have postings, they will be liable to a municipal court and a fine of up to $ 1,000 per day.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver has pushed to remove the part of the signage ordinance requiring businesses to remove post signs, saying he believes the current board should fight for the owners business that may be in financial difficulty. He also said he didn’t think the road signs were harming the city and helping to create the college town aesthetic.

“It was a long time ago,” Carver said. “I think it was bad policy to postpone it until 2020, actually 2021, but it’s something that this council did not adopt or the previous council, and I’m not sure the majority of that council feels the same. … I think we should look at this subjectively and not just what the previous board said. It is a problem today. “

His proposed motion to remove the post sign by-law ultimately failed after failing to receive a second to the motion.

Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, who voted in favor of the ordinance in 2011, said removing the pole signs would help keep the city safe. If a person drives on Highway 12 and pays attention the way they should, she said, their focus won’t be on reading the signs in the air, but on the traffic within reach.

“These signs are remnants of when Highway 12 was a freeway and not an urban street,” Sistrunk said. “Over the past decade, and things have certainly accelerated over the past decades, the nature of this route has changed. It is much more of an urban road that requires visible signage for someone to keep an eye on the road ahead.

Warden for Ward 5 Hamp Beatty has said he supports removing the pole signs, but believes businesses need enough time to remove them. He proposed that if the companies are already under contract with signature companies when the order goes into effect in May, they will not be subject to court hearings or fines.

“I just know that we are encouraging people – it’s been 10 and a half years – we are encouraging people to do it. The end goal, the end goal, is to get the old signs and get the monument inscriptions. By doing this I don’t want a business, someone in good faith going through the process… and it wasn’t done (on time), I don’t want them to be penalized.

His motion was also unsuccessful 4-3. Sistrunk said Beatty raised a valid point, but the companies have seven months before the effective date and believe this issue should be dealt with as part of the court process and let a judge handle situations such as these. this.

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