City right of way cleaned of signs on Monday a.m.

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 18, 2014

MULTIPLE VIOLATIONS: The front of this store in Picayune has a number of sign ordinance violations.

MULTIPLE VIOLATIONS: The front of this store in Picayune has a number of sign ordinance violations.

Business owners have until Monday to remove temporary signs placed in the city’s right of way.

On Monday, the city’s new code enforcement officers, Tom Milar and Chad Dorn will remove the signs before destroying them.

Fr. Jonathan Filkins chairs the city’s new sign committee. He took a tour of the city one Sunday afternoon and found a number of issues. Some of the things he noticed included banners being used on storefronts, banners incorrectly placed in various areas of the city and push signs in right of ways.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A lack of a continuous canopy along businesses on U.S. 11 was also noted. He said that if all of the businesses in that area came together to build the canopy then patrons would have cover from the elements as they conducted their shopping.

“It’s a known fact that if you have a nice clean city people will want to come here and shop,” Milar said.

A safety hazard was also noted by Filkins during his tour of the city. There were a number of businesses that have excessive advertisements on their windows. If the business was robbed then police officers would be unable to see inside and act accordingly.

Other ordinance violations Filkins noticed included sandwich signs, A-frame signs and feather flags, all along the right of ways.

Filkins compared the appearance of a city to the types of clothing a person would wear to a job interview.

“Right now we’re wearing our clothes to work in the garden,” Filkins said.

However, Filkins noticed a couple of areas where businesses took the initiative to freshen up their façade. He used Western Auto as an example. Previously the store used a homemade sign, but recently it underwent renovations that make it more pleasing to the eye.

Planning and Zoning Director Diane Miller said from now on all code enforcement officers will be required to have previous law enforcement experience so they can enforce the ordinances without the need for outside help. This is where Milar and Dorn will take up the process of enforcement.

Milar said he expects to need Dorn’s help for the next six months as he works to complete Phase 1 of the enforcement process.

Phase 2 of the program will involve ensuring every business has secured a sign permit, Milar said.

“We want to educate them,” Milar said. “If they continue Chad and I have the authority to enforce the city ordinance.”

If a sign is deemed out of compliance for whatever reason the city will request it be removed. If the city has to remove the sign themselves then that cost will be assessed to the business’ taxes, Filkins said.

Dorn estimates that about 95 percent of business owners are unaware of the city’s ordinances.

“You don’t recognize it because it’s become the norm,” Dorn said.

In the meantime, the city will work to simplify the ordinances, including creating a separate section for sign ordinances. Also, before any changes to the actual ordinances are performed, the city will hold at least two public hearings, Miller said.

Any business interested in obtaining a copy of the city’s sign ordinance can do so by visiting the city’s website and clicking on “code of ordinances” in the links at right.