Dannevirke's International Police Museum is looking to move because the owners say the Tararua District Council is obstructing their business - but the council says it can't bend the rules.
The high-profile building on Dannevirke's main street went on the market for $440,000 last year.
The museum's owners and curators, Bruce and Maureen Lyon, said a deciding factor to sell was the council not allowing them to advertise near the town's entrance on State Highway 2.
"It's difficult keeping something that expensive going if you can't put signs up," Mr Lyon said.
Although there are other signs at the town's entrance, Mr Lyon - a former Hamilton senior sergeant - was told he was not allowed to erect a sign by the council's policy and planning manager, Craig Lunn. Mr Lunn declined Mr Lyon's request to advertise on the main strip and advised him he could, for a fee, submit it through the district planning process.
Mr Lyon then took the matter to the council's chief executive, Blair King, to review, but Mr King stood by Mr Lunn's advice.
"It's a little bit two-edged where Bruce has been a member of the police and has to work within the rules, yet would like a new set of rules to assist him in a business," Mr King said. "It's quite reasonable for someone to ask that, but if they get declined, what grounds do we have to turn around and say, ‘Actually, that's a really good case', and give an exemption?"
The council's District Plan and NZ Transport Agency recommendations say businesses are not allowed to advertise on the grass strip by the town's entrance. Community signage informing residents of the town's events are allowed.
Mr Lyon said any signage would create a noticeable difference in the number of visitors the museum received. The building is registered with the Historic Places Trust - it has formerly been a Public Trust Office and a brothel, and is now the police museum and bed-and-breakfast motel - but no signage is allowed on the outside of it.
"I know the council have their rules, I'm just bloody-minded enough to take my business elsewhere," Mr Lyon said.
Mr King said if the council allowed the museum to advertise it could set a precedent. "If Bruce honestly believes that having a sign up the end of town is going to be the difference between keeping his business there and operating it and not . . . he is more than welcome to put that to the full council and see whether the council believes that case as well."
- Manawatu Standard
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