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Council hears from sign-ordinance opponent

Appearances topped the list of topics at last week’s regular meeting of the Clinton City Council.

Zoning official Dwight Wilson told councilors there was too much high grass in the city limits. “It really looks bad,” he said.

Mayor Roger Rorie said the city is “going forward with property complaints.”

Later on the agenda, Clinton businesswoman Kitty Murdock said she was concerned over the newly amended sign ordinance, which increases fees for business signs. Murdock said she was not upset by the rules and regulations, but at the cost, which could be a burden to struggling businesses.

“Main Street is a ghost town; buildings are empty,” she said.

She noted the irony in a resolution the council had just approved unanimously that would provide tax relief to Global Foods, which is supposed to be in business by the end of the year, and in “penalizing small businesses when we’re drowning.”

Wilson said the sign fees don’t even cover the cost of his visits to the businesses. He said he issued 11 sign permits in 2012 and 11 so far this year.

Wilson said some of those businesses already had closed, and he said the owners didn’t have the “knowledge or money” to run a business.”We’ll have plywood everywhere,” he said.

Wilson said the city wanted every tourist it could get to stop in town.

Rorie told Murdock that the City Council was not the place to bring her complaint. He said she should take it up with the Planning and Zoning Commission, and it could bring it to the attention of the council if warranted.

Wilson said he could already tell the mayor the commission would not bring the ordinance back. He said he spent a year working on the amended ordinance and it should be left alone.

“Nobody hardly ever comes to Planning and Zoning meetings,” he said. The next scheduled meeting of the commission is 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at City Hall. Anyone interested in attending should make sure the meeting is still scheduled, according to a city official Tuesday.

“I would like to see the city of Clinton be pro-small business, and I don’t see that,” Murdock said.

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