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Jun 10

Vintage Signs

Posted on June 10, 2020 at 4:14 PM by Darren Musselwhite

The general purposes of a municipal sign ordinance are to ensure traffic safety and the aesthetic value of a city while citizens, businesses, and other organizations communicate their messages.  This is one of the most challenging ordinances for any city and sign ordinances have evolved tremendously over the years.  For many years, the City of Southaven has been extremely effective in improving the aesthetic value of our city with our current ordinance. 

As we continue with the challenge of revitalization in our original business district, older signs have presented different challenges than in other parts of our city.  It’s common that economic demand changes in the older, original areas of cities.  Southaven is not immune to this.  While many have replaced or removed old signs from vacated businesses, “grandfather clauses” and the cost of new signs has discouraged many businesses from replacing old, dilapidated signs with new, conforming signs.  We began questioning if our sign ordinance was effective or counterproductive to our revitalization goals.  During this re-evaluation, we received an excellent idea from one of our citizens, Ricky Neal, who shares our goal of revitalizing our original business district.  The basis for Ricky’s idea and proposal is that some businesses in this district cannot afford a fully-conforming sign and could be deterred from making the improvements that they can afford.  This would be counterproductive to our goal of revitalization.  For this reason, we took Ricky’s idea of allowing older or “vintage” signs to be changed without being fully replaced and amended our ordinance fairly and consistently for signs that are 30 years old or older.

The Vintage Sign Ordinance, which was officially adopted by our Board of Aldermen on June 2, 2020, will allow the re-facing and/or re-surfacing of these older signs without requiring full conformance.  We hope that this change will encourage businesses to improve their signs, leading to an improved aesthetic value and positive contribution to our general economic attractiveness.