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City outlaws new billboards

Advertising billboards remain in place, but citizens won’t beseeing any new ones going up following a moratorium approvedrecently by the board of aldermen.

The moratorium governs any off-premise advertising billboards,said Building Inspector Steve Moreton. He described the signs as”clutter.”

“I didn’t see a need for them to be up all around the city,”Moreton said.

Moreton said three permits to put up new billboards in the citywere issued in February. However, those projects did not startwithin 60 days and the permits have now been revoked.

No more permits are being issued for billboards, Moretonsaid.

“That’s a highway type thing, and I think they’re cluttering theinterstate, too,” Moreton said.

The city prohibition also pre-empts some renewed interest inputting up billboards in the industrial park.

Moreton said original industrial park covenants, adopted in1979, prohibited billboards in the park. However, those expired inJanuary 2000, and he had received some calls from people interestedin erecting billboards there, he said.

The billboard moratorium does not affect on-premise advertising.Moreton said businesses are still allowed to have one legal-sizesign on their private property, but “flashing arrow” and similarsigns on city rights of way are illegal.

Billboard advertising is one of several sign issues getting theattention of a committee made up of members of the city’s planningand zoning commissions. The committee, which is also examiningportable sign issues, is scheduled to meet again next Thursday.

The city’s current sign ordinance was adopted in 1981. Itestablished a billboard sign size of no more than 900 square feetand spacing of 200 feet apart.

In 1991, Moreton said, the sign size was reduced to 500 squarefeet. The maximum height for a sign was set at 35 feet in 1997, butthere have been no other regulations to prevent billboardplacement.

“We just didn’t have anything to say ‘no’ for,” Moretonsaid.

Sign committee members have gotten ordinances from McComb,Starkville and other communities in their efforts to revise signrules for Brookhaven.

Regarding billboard sizes, Moreton said he would suggestsomething in the 350-square feet range.

With portable signs, Moreton mentioned that other communities’laws have time limits for those being up in one place. He indicatedsomething similar for Brookhaven would be good.

Prohibiting billboards is a new enforcement measure, butprevious enforcement of sign regulations has been limited. Moretonand committee members have said the new sign ordinance effort iscommunity appearance driven, and they are hopeful that businesseswill be cooperative once the new rules are adopted.

“We hope people will have enough pride to police themselves,”Moreton said.