The Oxford City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to change the city’s ordinance regulating off-premises signs.
The changes may bring Oxford into a dispute over a sign off Interstate 20 advertising the Dixie General Store, a Cleburne County business that sells Confederate flags and merchandise.
The Alabama Department of Transportation took the store’s owner, Robert Castello, to court in August in an effort to get him to remove a sign that the agency says violates state law. Castello says he’s been targeted because the sign includes Confederate flags.
According to court records, the case has yet to be settled.
“I hope Oxford’s not joining in on the fight,” Castello said, after being reached by phone Tuesday evening.
Castello said no one from the city contacted him about the change, and he was told that his sign was regulated solely by ALDOT.
If the ordinance does affect his sign, Castello said, he “absolutely” would challenge it.
“I think they have no authority to tell me what to do with something that is my property and that’s been under my control for years,” he said.
Asked if the ordinance change affected the sign for Dixie General Store, Oxford officials directed questions to a city spokeswoman, Taylor Sloan, who requested the question be sent through email.
Sloan responded to the emailed question, writing, “After talking with the City Building Inspector, Mike Roberts: The ordinance does allow for the city to enforce these actions. The State of Alabama Dept. Of Transportation is also involved with the signs on the right away of all interstates.”
Sloan’s email also said ALDOT officials and Oxford leaders will meet this week to make decisions on the sign.
In other business, the council:
Approved a change order to the city’s downtown renovation project. The council agreed to pay Hale Building Company $106,178 for extra work needed to widen McCain Street and to install curb and gutter islands and stripe a parking lot. The additional work was also needed to make the project compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a requirement for a federal grant that helped pay for the original work. Mayor Alton Craft also agreed to hold a meeting with organizers of Oxfordfest after council members Chris Spurlin and Mike Henderson said that some people were concerned how the downtown renovation would affect space for vendors at the festival.
Voted to allow the mayor to enter into an agreement with Alabama Power for an easement at Choccolocco Park to allow the utility to operate and maintain electric transmission lines.
Approved placing municipal liens on properties at 21 Alan St. and 1480 U.S. 78 for $650 and $400, respectively. The cost came from maintaining and clearing grass and debris at the properties.
Commended the city’s marketing department for signing up four tournaments for the city’s Sports Complex during a recent conference. Craft said that when asked why they had signed on with Oxford for their events, tournament representatives said Oxford officials were welcoming. “We acted like we wanted them,” said Craft.