Deadline for signs on businesses delayed until December|[6/07/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Vicksburg business owners will have an additional six months to get their annual sign permits now required by the city.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to extend the deadline until Dec. 31. The new ordinance that went into effect at the first of the year had initially allowed business owners six months to get a permit for all existing signs.

Officials said they extended the permit time because of some changes they expect to make in the law by the end of the year. Mayor Laurence Leyens said he also wanted to make it easier for business owners to meet the new requirements.

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“We are trying desperately to make some sign regulations that work, but it’s almost impossible to accommodate everybody,” Leyens said.

Under the current regulations, all businesses must get an annual sign permit. There is no fee for the permit, but as of the end of May only about 150 permits had been sought.

There are about 3,300 active businesses inside the city limits of Vicksburg, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

City Planner Wayne Mansfield said there are also unresolved issues with the new ordinance and a billboard company in litigation with the city. He did not say specifically what those issues are, but the new ordinance would make all billboards inside the city other than on the Interstate illegal.

“We’re going through and reviewing our ordinance; there are some changes we need to make,” Mansfield said.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the city is negotiating with Lamar Sign Company on a settlement, but that the city is also preparing to go to court.

Lamar filed suit in federal court saying the city is abridging its First Amendment rights by banning billboards inside the municipal limits. Under the new city ordinance, all billboards would be removed in the next five years.