A CASH hit looms for Wodonga football and netball club after it was told signs at its home ground breached the city’s planning scheme.
Wodonga Council has pushed the Bulldogs to pull down signage by Friday, following a city-wide audit targeting sporting grounds.
“The council has acted on signage where there are clear breaches of the planning scheme,” a council spokeswoman said.
“Five facilities were found to have issues with selected signs and clubs were provided information several months ago and given to the end of the winter sports season to address any issues.”
Wodonga club secretary Ian Lumby said the Bulldogs received an email last week from the council’s sports and recreation officer Nigel Cunningham stating non-compliant signs were expected to be removed by September 30 and urging their dismantling by Friday.
Mr Lumby said the signs involved were rearward-facing advertising on stands and an entry billboard to Martin Park on Gordon Street.
“You don’t need to be a detective to realise they’ve been there for decades and are upgraded occasionally,” he said.
“We’re not in a financial position to remove all those signs and they’re sponsorship for us – it’s a hell of a frustrating situation.”
Mr Lumby declined to nominate the potential loss, but a figure of $6000 has been circulated.
Fellow Ovens and Murray league club Wodonga Raiders was also found to have breached planning rules with signage at its ground, Birallee Park.
Raiders president Gary Knight said his club had agreed to remove signage and added negotiations had occurred over a board stating ‘Home of Wodonga Raiders’.
The breaches of the scheme are linked to permit requirements with the council spokeswoman saying the audit had been initiated by public complaints.
“It was raised with the council numerous times that particular signs in the precincts did not appear to meet the planning scheme requirements,” she said.
“As such, the council undertook the audit to ensure equity in signage opportunities among the user groups of the sporting precincts.”
As well as the football grounds, the Wodonga Tennis Centre, soccer and cricket field Kelly Park and La Trobe University’s soccer pitch failed the audit.
“They are all at various stages in the process and the council is preparing to follow up with the groups from Friday and will work with them to resolve any outstanding issues,” the spokeswoman said.
She said the city noted “the importance of sponsorship in funding sporting operations and is working together with clubs to navigate planning scheme requirements”.
“Clubs are still able to have signage under the appropriate approval and permit processes,” the spokeswoman said.
The council’s chief executive Patience Harrington told a Wodonga Ratepayers’ Association forum on Tuesday night that her organisation was committed to revisiting the issue and would continue to work with the clubs.