Business sign sparks legal question

Philippi City Council is questioning the legality of a new sign installed on Main Street.

A sign reading “Lil’ Moe’s Take Out Customers Only” outside of Lil’ Moe’s in Philippi has sparked debate among council members as to whether the sign should be permitted. Mayor Jerry Mouser said that the owner, John Mosesso, did not obtain a building permit for the sign he had recently placed along the sidewalk.

The council tabled the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting to send information about the sign and its questions to the city attorney for an opinion before taking action. The council is questioning if the sign might be considered an advertisement for Lil’ Moe’s.

The sign was constructed on a city right-of-way along a yellow line near a curb, Mouser said. By installing the sign, Mouser said he believes that Mosesso is claiming exclusive parking rights for his business in a public area, which detracts from taxpayer usage. Mouser also said the sign is placed within 20 feet of a crosswalk, which he said violates city code.

“I have a duty to enforce the laws of the city. I could be removed from office if I don’t do it,” Mouser said. “So I’m going to do what I got to do.”

In other matters, Mouser also proclaimed that this week is National Law Enforcement Officers Week. He asked that citizens greet a police officer and thank that officer for his or her service.

Citizens in Philippi who receive city water are currently being serviced with water from the new water treatment plant. City Manager Karen Weaver said the project is coming to a close, and the water being distributed is coming from the new plant. She said an open house tour of the plant will be planned, and she hopes it will walk visitors through the old plant first and then to the new plant to show the differences.

Weaver said the city is preparing for the wastewater plant project. The City Council has approved on third and final reading an ordinance for the wastewater treatment plant project bond. The city will soon open the bids for the project.

Weaver also announced that this week is spring clean-up week in Philippi. Citizens can have unwanted items picked up for free. She asks that citizens leave those items on the curbs for ease of clean-up and be patient with the workers who have extra responsibilities to pick up those items. Televisions and computers, or other similar electronics, will not be accepted. Unwanted items taken directly to the city’s transfer station still could result in a monetary charge.

If anyone’s garbage collection is missed, they may contact City Hall at 304-457-3700, and officials will work to correct the problem. Weaver also said the recently purchased street sweeper for the city may arrive as early as next week.

“We’ve got a lot of things happening that are improving the appearance of the city,” Weaver said.

Citizens may soon see a new look for crosswalks in the downtown area of Philippi. Weaver said that a rubberized material made to look like brick will help beautify some of the crosswalks in town, giving the face of Philippi a new look.

“I think it’ll look very nice,” Weaver said.

Rusty Freeman, the property owner of 356 Maple Ave. in Philippi, told City Council he didn’t believe his property needed to be rezoned from residential to commercial. The property, known as Thornhill Forest, is being used as a greenhouse, but Freeman plans to sell the property to Randall Stafford, who proposes to use it as a repossessed vehicle storage unit. Freeman said he consulted his lawyer, who told him the rezoning was unnecessary because provisions for the proposed use already apply to the property.

“I don’t think there is any reason for it to be rezoned,” Freeman said. “I think it will make a good neighbor and a good business.”