AZTEC — A special work session has been scheduled to address the city's ordinance regulating yard sale signs — which are popping up with the warmer weather.
Aztec commissioners will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the city's sign code, which has provoked complaints from citizens who feel penalties over yard sale signs are excessive.
Newly elected commissioner Katee McClure called for the meeting after hearing so many complaints over the issue.
"Aztec is the most restrictive of the (Four Corners area). The city is simply overregulated," McClure said. "Ninety-nine percent of people are responsible and don't leave their yard sale signs out because they don't want people knocking on their door afterwards."
Residents, who want to post yard or garage sale signs, must obtain a permit from the Community Development Department at City Hall. The permit costs $35 and the resident must follow the city's guidelines for temporary signs. A permit is good for a total of three signs, all of which must be placed on private property and be removed within 30 days of the end of the sale.
Robert Carman is the code compliance officer for the city of Aztec. Carman has been at his current position for about a year and he said he has never issued a penalty for a yard sale sign violation, though he says violations, mostly signs on public property or abandoned signs, are common.
"As a code compliance officer, my job is to enforce the code," Carman said. "When I see a sign on public property I take them down and give a courtesy notice first. Then, if it's an issue again, I write what's called a 'notice of intent to cite' and then if that fails, I can leave a criminal citation. But usually the first notice gets their attention."
Carman spends four to five hours each day driving around on patrol, looking for code violations.
"I used to pick up the (illegally placed) signs and take them to the address listed and then two hours later the same sign would be back," he said. "But most often people's reactions are one of surprise. They had no idea."
Though he has never written a citation for a yard sale sign, it may be because the penalties are high. A first offense for an unpermitted sign costs $100, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third offense.
Cindy Lopez, senior planner for the city of Farmington said there are guidelines sellers should follow. They are limited to two signs, both placed on private property only and removed within 72 hours of the end of the sale.
In Durango, a permit application allows for six signs, free of costs, according to the city officials.
"That's an interesting situation there in Aztec," said Steve Barkley, a Durango code enforcement officer. "We keep it pretty basic. In the 12 years I've been here, we've never cited anybody. We issue a courtesy notice violation and people jump on that."
Unlike Aztec and Farmington, yard sale signs are allowed on Durango's right-of-way areas, but they have to be cardboard boxes or on a wood stakes, near an intersection. There is no charge to obtain a yard sale sign permit, Barkley said.
Bloomfield also charges nothing for their signs, according to city's website.
McClure emphasized that citizens who attend the meeting today will be able to speak for a few minutes.
"We do the best we can," Carman said. "We're not out to penalize anybody, but, unfortunately, it tends to appear this way. My hope for the city is that signs are picked up. That's the real issue."
IF YOU GO
What: Aztec Commission Discussion of Garage Sale Signs
When: 5:15 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 8 (A regularly scheduled Commission meeting follows at 6 p.m.)
Where: Aztec City Hall, Commission Meeting Room, 201 W. Chaco St., in Aztec
Cost: Free, open to the public
More info: Call City Hall at 505-334-7600 or the Code Compliance Office at 505-334-7697. To see a copy of the city's sign permit application, go to http://www.aztecnm.gov/communitydevelopment/SignApplication.pdfl. The Aztec city code on signs can be viewed at http://www.aztecnm.gov/citycode/chapter20-signs.pdf.
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.