A campaign is to be mounted on illegal signs in the Far North to counter an upsurge in the number accumulating on roadsides, particularly on the approaches to urban areas such as Kerikeri and Paihia.
Field Compliance Manager Barry Webb said today the incidence of non-compliant signs had been increasing in recent months which had led to a similar rise in the complaints being received.
"While some complaints are from parties with a commercial interest (i.e. competitors), many complainants are members of the community who feel that the signs are a blight on the landscape. No signs may be erected on road reserve or council property without prior permission and planning controls restrict signage on private property to relate only to the business activity on-site" he said.
The council had in recent times taken a more lenient approach to the placing of signs, unless the signs were distracting and creating an element of danger to passing traffic or pedestrians. However the recent upsurge could not be ignored.
"With the number of complaints mounting, we really don't have a choice but to encourage people to either legalise the signs by obtaining a permit or remove them from the roadsides or footpaths. Permits are only granted in exceptional cases, and generally issued to the organizers of community events rather than commercial operators.
"If signs which do not have a permit remain on council property, the owners are likely to find their sign has been removed as part of the blitz," he said. Sign owners would be able to reclaim confiscated signs on payment of the applicable fee.
The clampdown would not be restricted to signs which did not have a permit. Property sale signs and advertising signs which did not meet the council's sign bylaws would also be confiscated.
"In tough economic times we don't want to penalize people unnecessarily – which is why we are giving them an opportunity to voluntarily remove their signs before formal action is taken. We would encourage business owners to investigate other types of advertising that are less intrusive," he said.