Aldermen tweak sign limit proposal

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After hearing an attorney’s questions, aldermen have agreed to clarify language in a proposed change to the city sign ordinance.
The proposal is intended to limit illuminated signs in downtown windows. The clarification will specify that the change means one sign per business, not per window.
The proposed limitation was largely sparked by several illuminated signs in the windows of one bar near the Square and the complaints they generated.
“Our downtown area is a historic district,” said Ward 3 Alderman Janice Antonow, noting that the Historic Preservation Commission had made the recommendation. “They believed it affected the historic character of downtown.”
At a public hearing on Tuesday, attorney Doug Foster, who said he represented several Square business owners, asked for a clarification about unclear wording, with aldermen insisting it meant a limit of one sign per business, not per window.
“What we want to do is have one illuminated sign per business within a three-foot radius of any exterior window,” Mayor George “Pat” Patterson answered.
Some see the limitation as a safety issue as well.
“I think it’s a distraction” to drivers, Antonow said.
After Foster pointed out that the three-foot radius specified in the proposed language did not allow even for additional lighted signs visible only from the interior, aldermen agreed to have him work with City Planner Tim Akers and Board Attorney Pope Mallette to correct the deficiency.
“They weren’t trying to bar interior advertising,” Mallette said. “They brought this forward to allow more signage in the store rather than less.”
Tuesday served as a public hearing for the proposed change. Its third reading will be at the May 4 city board meeting, when aldermen are expected to vote on the measure.