Neglected signs get attention in Biloxi

By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The City of Biloxi wants abandoned signs and those in violation of city ordinances to be maintained and brought back up to city standards. Sign ordinances have been on the books for some time, but city officials said its five years after Katrina and it's time to do something about the run down signs.

You could find anything from cracked posts to dangling wires on more than 200 signs throughout the city. The tall eyesores are in violation of Biloxi city ordinances.

Ed Gemmill said, "Get these signs that are out of compliance with the ordinance. Get them torn down or corrected in some manor."

Biloxi's Ward six Councilman Ed Gemmill said he understands business have had hurdles to go through since Katrina, but said property owners have had adequate time to address major issues and now it's time to address further property violations.

"If they have a salvageable sign and it's a canned sign, put a piece of white plexi glass in it. If you have thoughts of having another business there or thoughts of selling it," said Gemmill.

Abandoned signs line Highway 90. Some appear to be maintained, but they are still in violation.

"You have signs located on properties where there is no principle use. The buildings are gone, the businesses are gone and our ordinance says you cannot have an accessory structure, like a sign, unless there's a principle structure on the property," said Jerry Creel.

Biloxi Community Development Director, Jerry Creel, said some property owners could be worried about those signs that are grand-fathered in.

Creel said, "If you have a non-conforming sign, as long as you continue to maintain that sign it can continue to exist."

Creel said to clean the eyesores up, first the city will ask the owners of those properties who have neglected signs to maintain or remove them.

"We give them an opportunity to do that. If they don't we will handle it through Community Court or City Council through a resolution," said Creel.

Gemmill said, "We're not trying to single anyone out. It's just the fact when tourists and our local residents see this it brings backs bad feelings we don't want to remember."

Gemmill said a developmental report about the signs will be presented at the next city council meeting.

Some property owners did talk to us off camera. They said they are happy to help the City of Biloxi out by up- grading their neglected signs.

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