Part I, Title 9, Municipal Corporations Yatesville, Charter Amended:
Sex. XX. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that said town council shall have the power and authority to remove, or cause to be removed, all buildings, porches, steps, fences or other obstructions in or near the public streets, lanes or alleys of said town; to declare what shall be a nuisance and to abate the same, and to provide for the punishment of persons who may create, continue or suffer nuisances to exist; to prevent the establishment of any unwholesome or offensive business or establishment within the limits of the corporation; to compel the owner or user of any cellar, stable, pigsty, privy, sewer or any unwholesome or nauseous house or place to cleanse, abate or remove the same, at the expense of such owner or user, and to punish as provided by this charter for a failure to do so.
The Yatesville City Council is hoping this section of their city charter will give them the power to prohibit a new business in town from erecting a tall lighted sign in front of it. The issue was discussed at the council’s meeting on Jan. 14.
The concern first arose in December, when it was learned that Dollar General had purchased a lot and home on Highway 74, torn down the house, and was building a store. Yatesville has no zoning ordinances, so the city council had no say in if or where the company could build its store, or in the design or installation of a lighted sign. That did not sit well with Council member Phyl Gatlin, who voiced her opposition to any “light pollution,” suggesting that a lit sign 10 or 12 feet off the ground would be annoying to residents living behind and across from the store.
The council decided at its December meeting to ask Upson County Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier for his assistance in possibly developing zoning ordinances for the city. Currier was present at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Gatlin presented the council with copies of a section of the city charter she had found which she believes will allow the city to control what kind of sign will be allowed at Dollar General.
“I believe that entitles us to make that sign a nuisance, because Charlie Worthy does not deserve to have that sign in his backyard,” said Gatlin, referring to a resident whose property backs up to the Dollar General property. “It says that anything that we deem a nuisance, offensive, an obstruction - I don’t see how this can’t address that sign. At the very least, what we can do for him is keep that sign out of the air and from shining all over creation.”
“ When the store closes, the signs are off,” noted Mayor Cecil Moncrief. “They don’t burn all night long. They close at nine o’clock.”
“Well, that’s four hours in the winter time,” replied Gatlin. “What I want is the sign on the ground, so that it is not up in the air. I think this gives us the authority to make them put that sign down on the ground and not light it up. If we say that they can’t light the sign from within, that they have to light it with a floodlight or whatever, then that’s what they’ll have to do.”
The mayor asked Currier for any guidance, and Currier replied that there are only a couple things they can do.
“I think you’re already to the realm of calling your attorney,” said Currier. “Most places would not call a sign that doesn’t violate an ordinance a nuisance, so you’re already to call your attorney.
“The only thing I can suggest, pre-attorney, is a good merchant is going to try to fit in and work with the community that they’re in, so try to contact them.”
Mayor Moncrief stated he will take the charter section to the city’s attorney for her opinion.