Tupelo Council won't attempt sign veto override

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – With support petering out to override Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s veto to prevent a business sign twice as large as allowed in the Barnes Crossing shopping area, Carlock Toyota will have to wait until next year to try again.
After Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings planned to request a special meeting to discuss overriding Mayor Reed’s veto but changed his mind a day later.
“After I slept on it, I didn’t want to pursue it any further,” he said.
Jennings, Markel Whittington of Ward 1, Jim Newell of Ward 3 and Nettie Davis of Ward 4 voted April 2 to allow for a special variance for the car dealership. Council members Fred Pitts of Ward 2, Jonny Davis of Ward 5 and Mike Bryan of Ward 6 voted against it.
The city’s planning commission and planning department opposed allowing the 48-foot-tall, 170-square-foot wide sign near Highway 45. A spokesman for Carlock Toyota said during the council meeting that a larger sign was requested by Toyota corporate.
However, a spokeswoman for nearby Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, a plant that employs about 2,000 people, said the request didn’t come from there.
Two days after the council’s vote, Reed issued his veto, the first of his administration. He said allowing the larger sign could set a bad precedent and jeopardized aesthetics in the shopping area.
The council has until Friday to consider the veto override, which requires support of five council members. With the veto standing, the car dealership will have to wait 12 months after its request was denied to try again – March 5, 2014 at the earliest.
Council President Pitts said he’s ready to move on to other city business.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dead issue,” he said.
While not able to grant city permission for a bigger sign, Whittington said he’ll always show support for the company responsible for many jobs in the region.
“I’d support putting a Toyota statue out there next to Elvis if the company wanted it,” Whittington said before the council meeting this week.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com