By Mark Waite
Nye County code enforcement officers will begin removing signs illegally placed on rights of way through Pahrump Valley starting Feb. 25.
The original plan outlined in January 2012 was to notify businesses of their illegal signs, place a warning sticker on the signs and give the owners 15 days to remove them at the county landfill.
Now, code enforcement received the go-ahead from the district attorney’s office to just remove the signs and destroy them, Code Compliance Officer George Bernath said.
That would go along with comments on the Pahrump Valley Times website after the unveiling of the previous plan in January. One blogger wrote: “why waste time and money with notifications? Just rip the damn things out and toss them. Then if they replace it, fine them. Don’t keep spending revenue on bureaucratic B.S.”
The comments drew the agreement of other bloggers.
Nye County Code prohibits signs on existing or future rights-of-way of any highways, road or public easement. Nye County and the Nevada Department of Transportation have rights-of-way.
Bernath said signs have already been taken down on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. The county had sent out 40 to 45 notices to sign owners, mostly on NDOT rights-of-way, he said.
“It will probably be weeks before we get them all done. We’re going to start the 25th. We can’t spend all our time on signs because we have other code compliance stuff to do. We’re going to spend maybe a day a week doing signs,” Bernath said.
Code compliance received about 70 complaints from residents about signs, Bernath said. The proliferation of illegal signs is throughout Pahrump Valley, but especially at major intersections, and along Highway 160 and 372.
He pointed to the intersection of Gamebird Road and Homestead Road as an example where there were numerous illegal signs.
The crackdown mainly deals with rights-of-way. Bernath said people placing signs on private property have to obtain that property owner’s permission and obtain a permit from the planning department.
The county sign ordinance specifies criteria for signs, like curbing to anchor off-premise signs and a prohibition on canvas signs, streamers, balloons, pennants, banners or wind-driven devices.
The setbacks must be at least 10 feet from rights-of-way and 25 feet from other property lines. The signs can’t exceed 35 feet in height or 48 feet in width.
Code enforcement people will use the latest technology in removing the signs, Bernath said. That includes Global Positioning System GPS cameras that pinpoint the exact latitude and longitude of the signs, which is plotted into a Geographic Information System GIS parcel map downloaded onto a laptop computer to decide if a sign is in the right-of-way.
“It will clean up the major thoroughfares of the town, hopefully increase the visual aesthetics of the town, to maybe attract more people,” Bernath said. “The community assessment last year stated the amount of signs we have is a negative impact on the town. That’s another reason. We’re trying to get the chamber of commerce involved also to spread the word to business owners and come to the planning department first before they do any signage.”
The Pahrump community assessment completed by the Nevada Rural Development Council last year suggested code enforcement could clean up the community and control signs, particularly those that are weather-worn and outdated.
The sign owners won’t face a fine for signs that are destroyed, Bernath said.
“They spent money making the sign, that’s their penalty,” he said.