- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
The Paris City Council sought Monday night to find a way to allow Guaranty Bond Bank to relocate its existing billboard from the front of its new branch now under construction at the intersection of northeast Loop 286 and Spur 139.
The billboard sits next to “our new drive on the west side directly in front of our new bank,” bank president Kenny Dority told the council. … We are requesting to relocate this billboard to the opposite side of the property along the east side.”
That would be more aesthetically pleasing, the council agreed with Dority.
On the other hand, the billboard is legal now only because it was already in place at the time the city’s sign ordinance was overhauled in 2008.
Under the new sign ordinance, said city planning and development director Shawn Napier, signs already in place that were not in compliance were “grandfathered in” — allowed to remain.
According to the ordinance, an out-of-compliance billboard or other sign loses its “grandfathered” status if it is relocated.
The council has signaled in recent months that it would like to reverse the feeling that the City of Paris is not “business friendly.”
But the billboard is in violation of so many sections of the sign ordinance that to give Guaranty Bond Bank the OK to move its billboard would risk setting a bad precedent, council members said.
“We do understand all these rules … but for general visibility and appearance, it’s going to be much better if we could move it,” Dority said.
“This would drastically improve the line of sight to our new building and clean up the corner where it currently sits and make the intersection of Spur 139 and Loop 286 more appealing,” he said
Recently, the Paris City Council has signaled that it desires to reverse a perception that the City of Paris’ building permitting procedures are “business unfriendly.”
“We’d like it to work out for you,” District 3 city councilman John Wright said.
“We do want that, we do,” Mayor pro-tem Richard Grossnickle echoed.
At the same time, Grossnickle was troubled that the bank’s billboard is in violation of at least five parts of the sign ordinance:
“If there weren’t so many conflicts, it would be more doable,” Grossnickle said.
Wright asked Napier, “This isn’t something that would come back and bother us in the future. Is it?”
Napier replied: “It’s hard to answer that question, because anyone else with a billboard and wanting to move one or put one in could cite this change.”
City manager John Godwin said if the council wants to approve the relocation of the billboard, it would have to pass an ordinance of some kind, because the council can’t just ignore the existing sign ordinance.
City attorney Kent McIlyar said an option might be for Guaranty Bond Bank to go before the city’s Board of Adjustments “and ask for a variance from the sign ordinance … go before them and make your case as to why they should grant a variance.”
Napier said there’s another problem. The bank’s new branch is in the flood plain, and the proposed new site for the billboard is in the floodway, which is prohibited. Even if the Board of Adjustments OK’d a zoning variance, it could not address the floodway issue, Napier said.
Napier said it’s possible the bank could find another place on the property not in the floodway. If so, he said, a favorable ruling by the Board of Adjustments could clear the way.
The matter was not on the agenda as an action item, but as a discussion to provide direction to the city staff.
District 5 councilman Matt Frierson said: “It kind of puts us in a tough spot, where it sets a precedent and who knows what’s next? If you could go before the Board of Adjustments first, personally I’d be more comfortable.”
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