The Tamahere-Mangaone Restoration Trust is frustrated the Waikato District Council has forced them to take down their three advertising signs.
A council bylaw has cut off the eco-group’s sole regular source of income.
Two of the signs have been at the entrance to the Tamahere Reserve for the past two years. Another one – an Acorn Timber sign – has been there for seven years.
The signs were not an issue until now, volunteer Mark Bacchus told the Waikato Times.
Each of the signs produces $88 per month, the only regular source of income the trust receives, he said.
We are seriously considering our future, he said
“Without this source of funding, operations will need to be severely curtailed.”
The group has volunteered in the reserve for the past seven years.
Bacchus said when they started working, there was no way to even enter the reserve, which was a wetland covered in willows, blackberries, gorse and tradescantia.
The Mangaone Stream was not visible due to the thick crack willow growing on either side.
The volunteers have since cleared bush and weeds, made tracks, cleared rubbish and planted native plants, including kahikatea, swamp maire and pukatea.
Bacchus said the group’s activities amount to 8000 hours of work.
“We’d like the council to show respect for the work we do.
“Let the signs be. It’s money well spent – you can see what it’s being spent on – it’s not being wasted.”
Waikato District Council community connections manager Megan May said council received a complaint from someone regarding the signs.
The signs breach 25.40.1(b) of the District Plan because they are less than 60 metres from a controlled intersection, she said.
They have become a safety issue, May said.
Advertising signs must not exceed three square metres, and resource consent must be granted for them.
“Council has asked the Trust to provide information that outlines what level of funding the businesses provide so that we can adequately acknowledge their contribution in a legal way.”
May said co-branded signs could be placed within the walkway instead.
“We are genuinely interested in helping the trust in its efforts to both attract funding from, and acknowledgement of sponsors, but we must do so within the law.
“Council has invested a large amount of ratepayers’ money into the Tamahere Reserve site over the years. Examples of this include a wooden boardwalk at a cost of around $50,000, weed control and large amounts of staff time.
“We appreciate the work that the trust members have contributed and acknowledge that the site would not have developed without their hard work.”
Bacchus said he is doubtful signs within the walkway would produce as much funding.
He said the group wants to meet with council to discuss options.
“We are going to have to do something soon because we need some money flowing back through.”
More on this topic: Tamahere Reserve