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Wesson votes to allow offsite sign

Tensions ran high Tuesday at Wesson’s Board of Alderman meeting as the zoning board recommended to decline Jarrad Ashley’s request for a sign variance. After hearing Ashley’s argument in favor of the variance, aldermen voted to allow the sign to be put up for 90 days.

The zoning board is purely an advisory committee; it does not have the authority to make zoning decisions.

“The committee recommends that the variance not be issued due to the fact that it would be virtually impossible to deny future requests for signage variances,” the recommendation said. “We intend to research the sign ordinance and will recommend modifications of same if justified.”

Ashley sought to place a sign for his business offsite on another piece of property he owns. The sign ordinance doesn’t allow that. He has approached the board about this issue before.

“I’m a businessman that owns that piece of property that I’m trying to put a sign on, and have a business located in the town of Wesson that collects sales tax,” Ashley said. “Very few and very far between will it happen. Yes, you’ll have to make a decision if it does come, but I pay taxes on that land for the city. I pay taxes on both stores for the city.”

To explain the recommendation, Alderman-At-Large Rick Crockett brought a hypothetical situation where another store owner asked for a variance.

“There’s a circumstance here that I own commercial property there. If he owns a piece of commercial property somewhere, unless it’s in the historical preservation area of downtown Wesson, why don’t he get a sign if he’s paying taxes on it and the business he’s advertising is collecting for the city?”

It was suggested that the sign ordinance should be revisited, and Ward 4 Alderman Mike King suggested the 90 days compromise.

“I see absolutely nothing wrong with a business in this town, if they own a piece of property, putting up signs to generate business in this town,” King said.

In other board business:

• The board tabled the decision to employ Brad Turner as the code enforcement officer until the next meeting.

• The board implemented a procedure for dealing with zoning violations. A verbal statement and official letter is to be sent to the building owner, and they will be given 30 days to respond. The board voted to send out such letters: to the church that installed an offsite sign at the intersection of Mt. Zion and West Street, Newman on Railroad Avenue regarding a mobile home that was destroyed in a recent tornado, the owner of an abandoned home south of the Beech or Pine Street and the abandoned feed mill.

• The board voted that future building permits should include the E-911 street address.

• On three separate occasions, community members approached the board about infrastructure complaints. They were instructed to have their concerns put on the agenda for the next meeting.