Johns Island resident Sam Brownlee is relieved that Charleston County paid attention to residents’ pleas to remove unsightly “snipe signs.”

The illegal placards that hawk everything from mattresses to real estate are not only an eyesore but often end up along roadsides as litter, Brownlee said.

He hopes that enforcement of the sign ordinance was not just a burst of energy, but will continue as a regular part of county business.

Brandon White, a county planner, said his department stepped up its efforts to prevent and remove illegal signs because county residents voiced their concerns.

The signs are a recurring problem across the region, including the city of Charleston and Berkeley and Dorchester counties, local leaders said. And they said it’s tough to stay on top of the problem because they often don’t have enough staff.

White said Charleston County first is trying to get the word out to business owners that it’s illegal to post signs. It’s doing that through brochures, the county’s website and the media.

It also is working to encourage residents to notify the county if they see such signs, so the placards can be removed.

County staffers also are getting out frequently to remove signs, especially along the county’s most litter-prone corridors, including the Betsy Kerrison Parkway, Maybank Highway and Main and Bohicket roads on Johns Island.

Other problem areas include S.C. Highway 41, S.C. Highway 174 and the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Ladson Road.

White said the final step would be issuing summonses. That’s what the county will have to do “if we find folks that just will not comply with the ordinance,” he said.

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The penalty for illegally posting signs could be a fine up to $1,092, 30 days in jail, community service or some combination of the three, White said.

Brownlee said, “There’s been a 90 percent reduction in the signage” on Johns Island since county officials have been enforcing the law. He thinks the county might have to issue some big fines to get the attention of chronic law-breakers.

“That’s a deterrent, fining somebody,” he said. “The word gets out. That gets their attention.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.