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Poznań already without a landscape resolution. Governor's decision

Kuba Głaz
28 of February '23

Slow to come, fast to go. Poznań no longer has a landscape resolution. The Wielkopolska voivode invalidated the document passed a month ago. He gave three formal reasons. Poznan's mayor protests, but does not address the merits. Instead, he emphasizes the political context of the case.

For a very short time, Poznań enjoyed a landscape resolution, i.e. a document organizing issues such as the location and forms of advertising, signs, fences and small architecture. Councilors passed the document on January 24, after a long six years of preparation. The resolution went into effect a week ago (we reported on its provisions in the article "The end of advertising chaos in a major Polish city? It remains to be seen"). Originally, it was supposed to be ready already in 2019. Then the work slipped, which turned into a protracted process. The magistrate explained this by concern to meet all formal requirements to prevent the document from being perpetuated for legal reasons. In vain. Wielkopolska Voivode Michal Zielinski invalidated the resolution anyway.

no one knows what to remove

The decision was announced on Monday, February 27. Zielinski presented three formal reasons why, he says, he was forced to invalidate the document in its entirety. The first relates to a violation of procedure: the failure to forward to the City Council a comment not taken into account by the mayor at the opinion stage of the document. The comment in question concerns the notion of an advertising mural and allowing advertisements to be located on flat roofs, in gateways and clearances. The governor comments:

Despite the information according to which the comment was fully taken into account, regulations specifying the conditions and rules for the location of advertising on flat roofs of buildings and in gates were not introduced into the text of the resolution.

The second, very important reason for invalidation is the ambiguous provision on the removal of media. This is because the resolution introduces various criteria such as, among other things, the distance between individual advertising carriers. And it is these "intersecting" criteria that are the problem. It is unclear, for example, which of the conflicting advertisements would disappear from the city space (e.g., set up earlier?, bigger?, taller?).

The third objection, meanwhile, relates to the city's division into "legal" and "illegal" media. The former were subjected by the resolution to adjustment periods, after which they must disappear or adjust to the new guidelines. The second group, advertisements erected without a permit, were to disappear immediately, and the city would charge fines now. The governor pointed out that the city has no statutory authority to make such a division. He also indicated that ads erected in the wild would remain "illegal" media regardless of the landscape resolution. They will, as before, be subject to sanctions under the Construction Law and - by the same token - to construction supervision (the latter, yes, has been removing illegal media in Poznań for years, but rather slowly and not on a mass scale).

Is this just politics?

In passing, Zielinski expressed regret:

I fully support the need to regulate the rules and conditions for the location of advertising elements in Poznań. (...) However, the most important is the formal-legal layer of this act, in which, despite such a long time of proceeding on the resolution, the city authorities did not shy away from significant errors, forcing such and not other resolution.

Poznan Mayor Jacek Jaskowiak reacted violently on Facebook.

There are about 100,000 illegal advertisements in Poznań. That's 80% of all functioning media in the city. The resolution was a tool to eliminate this pathology and clean up public space. The governor's decision (...) equating illegal carriers with those whose owners took the trouble to complete all the formalities is a triumph of lawlessness. It is a defeat for the rule of law and a state that is made of cardboard, that accepts and supports illegal activities, at the expense of the City, urban space and residents. As long as I am in public office, I will strive to ensure that the activities of politicians at both the local and governmental levels seeking to block the resolution, often using illegal media during election campaigns, are investigated by the relevant law enforcement agencies.

In this lengthy post, however, Jaskowiak did not address the substance of the governor's objections. Yes, the latter may have been driven by political reasons, but this was to be expected(all Law and Justice councilors voted against the resolution). All the more reason not to provide Zieliński with arguments, especially since a few years ago representatives of the City Council announced: the resolution, although delayed, will be worked out in great detail - without the mistakes that other cities and municipalities made in drafting their landscape documents. It is therefore bizarre, for example, why Poznań repeated Gdańsk's incorrect move of 2019 regarding the division into legal and illegal advertisements.

there were alarm bells

Other inadequacies of the document (including the favoritism of the MTP Group - one of the disposers of the media) were also pointed out in January before the vote by both some councilors and social activists reviewing the draft resolution. They also accused the city of tardiness in removing illegal carriers, which is in accordance with the construction law. The magistrate, however, pushed to vote in favor of the document, even though it was aware of its imperfections (they were to be removed later, through an amendment, but the resolution would have already worked).

What does the city intend to do now? It can appeal the governor's supervisory decision in the Regional Administrative Court, or make amendments and re-enact the document. The magistrate has not yet announced an official strategy, Jaskowiak is tentatively leaning towards fighting in the WSA. Whatever happens, cleaning up the issue of advertising and aesthetics in Poznań will be delayed even further. If the resolution were still valid, we would still see its effects in part of the city in as long as five years (that's how long the city gave owners of advertising media to adjust to the new regulations in the largest of the zones into which Poznań was divided). Now, probably due to legislative sloppiness, this deadline is moving even further away.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast

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