They're illegal, unsightly and do nothing to enhance Goulburn's image, say planners and councillors.
They're referring to the proliferation of commercial signs on surrounding highways, some of which are unlawful, according to the council's planning department.
Owners will have until February 1 to prove that their signs are legal or thereafter face compliance action to pull them down, following a council decision.
Councillors were told at their most recent meeting that there were "multiple instances" of unlawfully erected signage on the Hume Highway.
"...Primarily (these are) advertising fast food and takeaway premises," a planner's report stated.
The issue came to notice when an owner sought approval for what planners said was "unlawful signage" before it was erected, but was rejected because the council couldn't legally grant consent.
It means that owners of other illegal signs also have no means of seeking approval.
The sticking point is that signage controls within Goulburn Mulwaree's development control plan (DCP) 2009 do not comply with a State Environmental Planning Policy, governing advertising and signage.
That Policy dictates that approval can't be granted unless the DCP was prepared in consultation with the advertising industry and "any other body that is represenative of local businesses." Moreover, if the DCP relates to land within 250 metres of a classified road, such as the Hume Highway, the RMS must be firstly consulted before consent is granted.
"Following a review of existing signage controls, it was determined that a new and compliant amendment of the DCP can best preserve the natural amenity of the lanscape by limiting the presence of commercial signs in rural lands and on land adjacent to the highways," the report stated.
"These amended controls would prohibit the existing unlawfully erected signs and prevent them from seeking approval."
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Planners say, and councillors agree, that most commercial signs, including billboards, detract from views and amenity, add to visual clutter, distract drivers and promote businesses, such as fast food outlets for passersby, rather than visitors that would draw longer term economic benefit.
"Preserving these views by prohibiting unrestricted commercial signage is vital for generating interest for new and return visitors," their report stated.
An amendment to the DCP will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days. It will only allow for advertising where it promotes a use on that land, such as a winery; that temporarily promotes an event; is erected by a council or public authority, promoting the area; highlights services and attractions in a nearby town; replaces a sign that has been lawfully erected; or is exempt under the council's planning laws and the State's Environmental Planning Policy governing advertising and signage.
Staff and councillors will consider public submissions in February and March.
General manager Warwick Bennett said the moratorium would allow owners up until February 1 to provide evidence their signs were legal. On April 1, compliance action would begin to remove unlawful signs.
Planners also highlighted the appearance of vehicle, trailer and shipping containers on the highway promoting businesses.
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker said the problem had been "on the books" for some time.
"I know people pay good money for signage on the highway and around the place, but they pay. There's other signage out there that makes the place look very ordinary and I think addressing this is giving people an opportunity to clean it up and go through the right channels and have proper and good signage.
"I think it will only beautify the area coming into town."
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