Is this sign too big?
Is this sign too big? Craig Warhurst

Oversized sign has council thinking twice

BAD SIGN (OR IS IT?): Ian Pye says he has all the permission he needs for his over-sized sign. Craig Warhurst

"LOOK for the big sign," Gympie real estate agent Ian Pye said with a chuckle, as he gave us directions.

The sign is easily the most distinctive thing about the Old Maryborough Rd home where he runs his business.

Mr Pye is very happy with it and the business it attracts.

Gympie Regional Council is not so pleased, even though the council has approved the sign, accidentally and contrary to its planning scheme.

The dispute all boils down to a typographical error, in which council planning staff accidentally insisted on the sign having a maximum size of 0.3 cubic metres.

They meant to say square metres (surface area).

With its thickness a tiny fraction of a metre, the volume requirement meant a much larger sign..

As a result, Mr Pye's sign is nearly seven times normal, but complies with the council's accidental approval.

"Typically, a sign for a home-based business is about 0.6m by 0.5m, which equates to 0.3sq m," staff reported to last week's council meeting.

But the typographical error, referring to cubic metres, introduces a new dimension to the debate, literally.

Staff at last week's council general meeting referred to legal advice that the council was entitled to correct a typographical error.

But Mr Pye says a second letter intended to do that, repeated the error, confirming rather than correcting it.

Planning portfolio councillor Ian Petersen disagreed with the council's legal advice, saying the council has often made decisions which varied the planning scheme.

Those decisions were still binding, he said.

In a resolution moved by Deputy Mayor Larry Friske and seconded by Cr Julie Walker, councillors decided to think about it for a while.

Mr Pye says if he is forced to pull the sign down, he will want compensation not only for its cost, but for loss of the business it generates.

Gympie Times

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