Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

UPDATE: Controversial signs removed (+video)

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Controversial yellow and black signs bringing attention to Rotorua Lakes Council policies have been taken down due to threats of legal action.

But, members of the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group - who erected the signs - say they have achieved their purpose and they won't be making any legal challenges against their removal.

The signs were removed last week after people displaying them on private property were told to get resource consents or face legal action under the district plan.

The council received legal advice in February backing its position that 10 of the yellow and black signs were illegal and those displaying them had to apply for a resource consent.

If not, they could have been issued with an abatement notice, fined $750 or faced further legal action.

Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers chairwoman and district councillor Glenys Searancke said in a statement the signs had achieved their purpose and had now been removed.

The group has always argued the signs were temporary, therefore legal under the district plan.

"The yellow signs have achieved their mission - to generate awareness, provoke public engagement and invite people to imagine positive alternatives to current council policies and practices."

Mrs Searancke said they were also removed because the group felt they were being "bullied" with threats of fines and the council was wasting ratepayers' money on legal advice.

"The signs were always compliant with the duration and size criteria for temporary signs in the district plan," she said.

The group's mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson said he felt the council's chief executive Geoff Williams was determined to have the signs removed or go ahead with legal action.

"At our recent meeting he escalated his silly threats - either apply for resource consent for permanent signs or the owners will face legal action."

Dr Macpherson said he did not believe the council would have given resource consent for the signs .

Mr Williams said the council had held meetings with the group to discuss complaints it had received about the signs.

"Council is only acting where residents have complained about signs and all we have asked the group to do is what would be asked of any other resident or group.

"Any resource consent application received by council is assessed on its own merits against the Rotorua district plan requirements and the degree of associated effects.

"A resource consent application to allow the display of the signage could potentially cover a number of selected properties and would cost $835.

"The signs breach the Rotorua district plan performance standards in that they do not relate to an activity or event located onsite, have been displayed for longer than three consecutive six week periods and, in some cases have exceeded the maximum dimensions permitted by the plan."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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