Destin continues battle vs. ‘snipe’ signs

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The prohibited signs include “For sale” signs, political signs and signs offering some type of service, such as the often-seen “We buy houses” signs.

TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

DESTIN — Another week, another batch of “snipe” signs removed.

That Whac-A-Mole-like scenario is a routine part of the workload of code enforcement officers, including those who work for the city of Destin.

The city prohibits the posting of snipe signs, or “bandit” signs, in public rights of way and other areas. The prohibited signs include “For sale” signs, political signs and signs offering some type of service, such as the often-seen “We buy houses” signs.

But the people who post such signs apparently are either unaware or don’t care about the city’s rules: The city’s weekly activity report for Dec. 13-19 shows that code enforcement officers removed a total of 40 of these kinds of signs.

The situation improved during Dec. 27-Jan. 2, when the officers removed a total of 13 snipe signs.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a big problem, but it’s common,” city spokesman Doug Rainer said last Friday about such signs in Destin. “For the most part, they’re scattered citywide.”

The long list of signs that are prohibited by the city’s land development code includes those that “obstruct the vision of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists traveling on or entering public streets.”

The code also prohibits signs that are tacked, nailed, pasted, glued or otherwise attached to trees, utility poles or fences.

“Part of (code enforcement officers’) duties when they’re out and about is to notice anything that violates the code and take appropriate action,” Rainer said. “Illegally placed signs can cause line-of-sight problems for traffic and pedestrians, and we do not want snipe-sign clutter, because residents and businesses typically don’t like to see a sea of signs down the highway.”

With the March 14 city election approaching, there is the potential for a proliferation of political campaign signs being posted in the rights of way. The city’s code enforcement officers will generally try to reach the candidates who are advertised on the signs and give them some time to remove them, Rainer said.

He said the officers typically do not try to track down the owners of other types of snipe signs, which end up in a trash bin.

Snipe signs come from “everywhere,” City Councilman Jim Foreman said.

“Anything they want to attract attention to, they put a sign up,” he said of the sign installers.

But Foreman said no residents have complained to him about such signs. He added that the problem of snipe signs is one experienced throughout Florida, not just Destin.

“I’m not going to get too upset with a sign that says “Lost dog,”” Foreman said. “But the general idea is that (snipe signs) clutter the area and make it harder for maintenance crews that cut the grass (on public property) in the summer months.”

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