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Sylva Walmart sign decision pending

Sylva town leaders once again have a public hearing on the docket to decide the fate of oversized Walmart signs, but are once again wondering whether representatives of Walmart will stand them up.


Walmart wants to replace its existing signs — which are larger than the town allows — with news ones that are just as big. A hearing is scheduled for the town board meeting Thursday. However, just because Walmart is on the agenda, it’s no indication anyone will show up to defend the multi-national corporation against the sign ordinances of Sylva.

If the past is any indication, the legal team from Walmart will probably not be there.

“We’ve delayed it three times now so they can be there,” said Sylva Mayor Maurice Moody. “If it’s important they should have somebody there.”

The first hearing on Walmart’s signs occurred in early March. Walmart representatives weren’t there, however, so March’s hearing was rescheduled until April, and April’s hearing rescheduled to May. Town Clerk Brandi Henson said the company’s lawyer contacted her recently to ask for another postponement, but Henson told her not this time.

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“I told her we weren’t going to delay for them again,” Henson said. “And I never heard back from them.”

On Thursday, board members will have the opportunity to hear a report from John Jeleniewski, the town’s code enforcer. Jeleniewski said he will recommend the company bring its roadside sign into compliance but be given a break on their store-front signs. The public will also have a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Walmart’s roadside sign is 15 feet taller than allowed under the town sign rules. When old signs are replaced, they are supposed to come into compliance with current sign rules, but Walmart is hoping to keep its grandfathered status. It also wants bigger signs on its store façade than are currently allowed. The Sylva planning board recommended the town deny Walmart’s request.

At March’s meeting, the town’s board members were split over whether or not to grant Walmart a pardon on their signs. But it remains to be seen whether they’ll call for a vote even if a representative for Walmart is absent.

Moody said that decision will be up to the board members, as he only votes in the case of a tie. But he is growing impatient.

“You can’t keep dragging things on forever,” Moody said. “We try to accommodate people but at some point it needs to be cutoff.”

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