Chapter 1143: Signs


Cross references

  • Conservation District - see P. & Z. 1121.05

1143.01   Intent

Sign regulations, including provisions to control the type, design, size, illumination, movement, materials, condition and location thereof, are established in order to achieve, among others, the following purposes:

  1. (a) To protect and maintain property values;

  2. (b) To provide for reasonable and appropriate means of communication;

  3. (c) To protect and enhance the unique historic and aesthetic character of the Municipality;

  4. (d) To eliminate any conflict that would be hazardous between traffic control signs and devices and signs not related to the function of traffic control;

  5. (e) To ensure a safe and orderly pedestrian and vehicular environment;

  6. (f) To reduce visual clutter;

  7. (g) To promote economic development; and,

  8. (h) To achieve an appropriate balance between visual displays as a means of communication and reducing the harms caused by such displays.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.02   Conformance required

  1. (a) Signs shall be designed, erected, altered, reconstructed, moved or maintained, in whole or in part, in accordance with the type, design, size, location, illumination and other provisions set forth in this chapter.

  2. (b) The construction, erection, safety and maintenance of all signs shall also comply with the provisions of the Building Code of the Municipality.

  3. (c) The display of the flag of any governmental agency shall not be governed by the provisions of these regulations.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.03   Definitions and references

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates:

  1. (a) “Awning” means a projection from a building wall intended primarily for shelter or ornamentation and which can be retracted, folded or collapsed against the face of the supporting building.

  2. (b) “Billboard” means a permanent sign directing attention to a commercial activity conducted elsewhere than upon the lot on which the sign is located.

  3. (c) “Board” means the Board of Zoning Appeals of the Municipality as created by Article VII of the Charter.

  4. (d) “Building unit” means a space occupying a portion of the ground floor of a building, containing an exclusive entrance from the building exterior and separated from all other ground floor spaces by a party wall or walls. For the purposes of this Chapter regulations referring to a building shall apply to a building unit if such building is divided into units.

  5. (e) “Canopy” means a projection from a building wall intended primarily for shelter or ornamentation, and typically constructed to include a top element, or cover, and front or side overhangs.

  6. (f) “Copy” means the letters, words, symbols or artwork displayed on a sign.

  7. (g) “Erect” means to build, construct, attach, hang, place, suspend or affix, and shall also include the painting of wall signs.

  8. (h) “Facing” and “surface” mean the surface of the sign upon, against or through which the message is displayed or illustrated on the sign.

  9. (i) “Ground sign” means any sign supported by uprights or braces attached to the ground and not attached to any building.

  10. (j) “Height” means the height above finished grade and refers only to ground (pole) signs unless otherwise indicated.

  11. (k) “Illuminated sign” means any sign which has characters, letters, figures, designs or outline illuminated by electric lights or luminous tubes as a part of the sign proper.

  12. (l) “Incidental sign” means a wall sign one (1) square foot or less in area and not illuminated, or, a ground sign two (2) square feet in area, four feet or less in height and not illuminated.

  13. (m) “Marquee” means a projection from a building wall intended for the display of signs and secondarily, for shelter or ornamentation, and typically constructed to include a top element, or cover, and a bottom element, or soffit connected by vertical faces on three sides.

  14. (n) “Multi-tenant building” means a nonresidential building served by a common entrance that contains multiple uses.

  15. (o) “Permanent sign” means a sign permanently affixed or attached to the ground, a building or a structure and which cannot be removed without special handling such as removing or dismantling a foundation, fasteners, adhesives, or similar materials providing support or structural integrity for the sign.

  16. (p) “Portable sign” means any sign other than a temporary sign which is made of durable materials, designed to be moved and is not permanently attached to any part of a building, structure, or to the ground.

  17. (q) “Projecting sign” means any sign with two faces that extends outward at an angle from the wall to which it is attached.

  18. (r) “Roof sign” means any sign erected, constructed and maintained wholly upon or over the roof or parapet wall of any building, with the principal support on the roof structure.

  19. (s) “Sign” means any visual communication including but not limited to any writing, pictorial representation, mural illustration, emblem, symbol, design, drawing, banner, flag, placard, pennant, poster or other similar device that is visible from a dedicated right of way, private street, alley, sidewalk, or other public place and is used for purpose of advertisement, announcement, declaration, demonstration, identification or expression or directing attention to a person, institution, organization, business, activity, place, object or product.

  20. (t) “Sign panel” means a structural object or portion of a structural object, including painted surfaces, designed to form a distinct background area or frame for display of a sign’s copy or information. However, an architectural frame or space integral to a building’s design and not differentiated from the wall by color shall not be considered a sign panel.

  21. (u) “Temporary sign” means a sign constructed of cloth, paper, wood, metal, fabric, or other material that is not intended to be permanently installed in the ground nor permanently affixed to a building or structure and is intended for use for a limited period of time.

  22. (v) “Wall sign” means any sign painted on, attached to, or erected against or integrated into the wall of a building or structure, with the exposed face of the sign in a plane parallel to the plane of the wall.

  23. (w) “Window sign” means any sign lettered directly on a window or placed on the inside of a window so as to be read from the outside. The glass or clear plastic portion of an exterior door shall be considered a window for purposes of this definition.

  24. (x) References to “zoning districts” herein refer to the districts established in Chapter 1119.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.04   Signs prohibited

In general, any sign that is not expressly authorized by this Chapter is prohibited. Additionally, the following specific signs are prohibited:

  1. (a) Any sign attached to natural vegetation.

  2. (b) Any sign that, by reason of its location, illumination, movement, shape or color, may interfere with, obstruct the view of, or be confused with, any authorized traffic control device.

  3. (c) Any sign that shows evidence of inadequate maintenance or deterioration including peeling paint, rust, dirt, fading, damage or discoloration.

  4. (d) Any sign located within a vision triangle of any public street intersection or intersection of a public street with a private street, alley, or driveway that has a height greater than two and one-half feet above curb level. Such vision triangle shall be formed by lines drawn between points on any two streets, or on any street and alley or driveway twenty-five (25) feet from their point of intersection.

  5. (e) Any sign that displays flashing, scrolling or intermittent lights or lights of changing degrees of intensity.

  6. (f) Any sign that is internally illuminated, including those signs with exposed neon tubing, signs with a light source located in the interior of the sign, or signs whose light source is attached to or near the sign in a manner that allows the light to be seen through the face of the sign.

  7. (g) Any permanent sign placed upon or projecting over any public land, street, sidewalk or other public right-of-way, except as expressly permitted in Section 1143.06(d).

  8. (h) Roof signs.

  9. (i) Any sign that is painted on sidewalks or curbs.

  10. (j) Marquee signs.

  11. (k) Billboards.

  12. (l) Portable signs.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.05   Permits

  1. (a) Permit Required. A sign permit is required to erect, repair, alter, relocate or maintain any sign except those exempted in subsection (f) herein provided however, that minor repairs or maintenance of signs not involving structural changes may be undertaken without first obtaining a permit.

  2. (b) Application for Permit. Application for sign permits shall be made upon forms provided by the Administrator and shall contain or have attached thereto the following information:

    1. (1) The name, mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number of the applicant;

    2. (2) The location of the building, structure or lot to which or upon which the sign is to be attached or erected;

    3. (3) The position of the sign in relation to buildings or structures on contiguous lots;

    4. (4) Two scale drawings, blueprints or ink, as well as a digital version in a format acceptable to the Municipality, of the plans and specifications of each sign indicating all dimensions, materials, colors, type of lettering illumination, method of construction and means of attachment to the building or ground;

    5. (5) The name of the person erecting the sign;

    6. (6) Written consent of the owner of the building, structure or land to which or on which the sign is to be erected;

    7. (7) Photograph of the area of the building upon which a wall sign is to be placed;

    8. (8) Such other information as the Administrator shall require, to show full compliance with this and all other ordinances of the Municipality;

    9. (9) Payment of the nonrefundable fee required by Section 1309.12 of the Building Code.

  3. (c) Referral of Application to Architectural Board of Review. Approval of the Architectural Board of Review shall be obtained before issuance of any permit required hereunder.

  4. (d) Issuance of Permit. The Administrator, upon the filing of an application for a sign permit, shall examine all required plans and specifications as well as the premises upon which the sign is to be placed. If the proposed sign is in compliance with all the requirements of this chapter and all other ordinances of the Municipality, and the Architectural Board of Review has approved the sign application, the sign permit shall be issued. If the work authorized under the sign permit has not been completed within six months after date of issuance, the permit shall become null and void.

  5. (e) Revocability of Permits. The Administrator may revoke any sign permit for noncompliance with any provisions of this chapter or misrepresentation of fact on the permit application. All rights and privileges acquired under the provisions of this chapter or any amendment hereof are mere licenses, and all sign permits shall contain this provision.

  6. (f) Permit Exemptions. The permit provisions of this section shall not apply to the following signs; such signs, however, are still subject to the regulations provided for in this chapter:

    1. (1) Temporary signs as regulated in Section 1143.09.

    2. (2) Incidental signs.

    3. (3) Cornerstones and other similar building plaques or architectural elements permanently incorporated into a building and not exceeding two (2) square feet in total area.
      (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.06   Number and type of signs permitted: nonresidential districts

In nonresidential districts, permanent signs shall be permitted as follows:

  1. (a) General. Unless otherwise allowed by this section, a maximum of two permanent signs shall be permitted for each building.

    1. (1) One sign may be displayed as a ground sign.

    2. (2) In the Central Shopping, Retail Business, and Office Districts, one sign may be displayed as a projecting sign.

    3. (3) Any one use shall not display both a projecting sign and a ground sign.

    4. (4) Signs that are not considered incidental signs may be illuminated by an external light source.

  2. (b) Wall Signs.

    1. (1) Wall signs for each building shall not exceed twelve square feet in combined area, except as permitted in Section 1143.06(c)(2) below.

    2. (2) Wall signs which occupy a single space two feet or less in vertical dimension may extend to a width ninety percent (90%) or less of the width and length of the building or unit.

    3. (3) Permanent window signs shall be regulated as wall signs for the purposes of this section.

  3. (c) Ground Signs.

    1. (1) In addition to those signs permitted in Section 1143.06(a), one additional ground sign shall be permitted for each lot with a frontage of at least 120 feet measured along the line providing principal access to the building(s) on such lot. The minimum spacing between ground signs on the same lot shall be twenty- five feet.

    2. (2) Ground signs shall be twenty square feet or less in area and six feet or less above finished grade in height except that a ground sign located in a vision triangle of any public street intersection or intersection of a public street with a private street, alley, or driveway shall be two and one- half feet or less above curb level.

    3. (3) Ground signs shall not be located nearer the street than the required building line nor shall such signs be located less than twenty feet from an interior side lot line. However, a ground sign which does not exceed twelve square feet in area and is situated within a landscaped area may be located as close as five feet to any street right-of-way line and ten feet to an interior side lot line. Such landscaped area shall be bounded by curbing or other effective vehicular barriers and shall be sufficient in size so that all portions of the sign are set back at least eighteen inches from its perimeter.

  4. (d) Projecting Signs.

    1. (1) Projecting signs shall be limited to two faces with each face twelve (12) square feet or less. However, an additional three-inch border or frame may be permitted to provide ornamental design. The maximum horizontal dimension shall be four (4) feet. The maximum vertical dimension shall be four and one-half (4 1/2) feet.

    2. (2) The lowest point of a projecting sign or part thereof shall be at least eight feet above a sidewalk or other walkway and at least fifteen feet above a driveway or private road. Projecting signs or parts thereof shall not extend nearer than one foot to a curb line of any street. Also, projecting signs shall not extend a distance greater than two feet from the wall to which it is attached, measuring from the point of the sign nearest thereto.

    3. (3) Erection. Projecting signs exceeding fifty pounds in weight shall not be attached to or supported by frame buildings or the wooden framework of a building. Projecting signs shall not be secured with wire, strips of wood or nails, or be hung or secured to any other sign.

  5. (e) Awnings and Canopies. Sign copy may be painted or otherwise permanently affixed to a ground floor awning or canopy in a space not exceeding eight inches in height on the front and side portions thereof.

  6. (f) Secondary and Rear Entrances. In addition to those signs permitted in Section 1143.06(a), buildings or units thereof with a secondary or rear customer entrance shall be permitted an additional wall or window sign six square feet or less in area. Such signs shall be located in proximity to the secondary or rear entrance.

  7. (g) Multi-tenant buildings. In multi-tenant buildings, the allowable sign area for all tenants shall not exceed the maximum sign area computed as if there were a single tenant. The property owner shall be responsible for allocating the permitted sign area among tenants in a multi-tenant building.

  8. (h) Upper Floor Uses. In Business Districts, any use located on the second floor of a building or above shall be permitted one permanent window sign twelve square feet or less in area. In addition to a permanent window sign, upper floor uses with an exclusive ground floor entrance may display a wall sign, two square feet or less, at such entrance.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.07   Number and types of signs permitted: residential districts

In all residential districts, permanent signs shall be permitted as follows:

  1. (a) General.

    1. (1) Dwelling units that are permitted in the Cluster and RMU Overlay Districts shall be deemed to be in a residential district regardless of the underlying zoning district.

    2. (2) Signs that are not considered incidental signs may be illuminated by an external light source.

    3. (3) Signs permitted under this section shall be twelve square feet in area or less.

    4. (4) Ground signs permitted under this section shall be set back five feet from any street right of way and ten feet to an interior lot line. Additionally, such signs shall be four feet or less in height except that a ground sign located in a vision triangle of any public street intersection or intersection of a public street with a private street, alley, or driveway shall be two and one-half feet or less above curb level.

  2. (b) Dwelling Units. One permanent sign shall be permitted for each dwelling unit.

    1. (1) Each single family and two-family dwelling unit may display either a ground or wall sign. Such sign shall require no permit.

    2. (2) Each attached single family or multi-family family dwelling unit may display a wall sign. Such sign shall require no permit.

  3. (c) Residential Developments. Each residential development shall be permitted one sign located near the entrance to the development. Such sign shall be permitted only as a ground sign in single-family districts and only as a ground, wall, awning or canopy sign in multi-family districts.

  4. (d) Building Signs. In multi-family developments of two or more residential buildings, each building shall be permitted one wall, awning, canopy or ground sign.

  5. (e) Nonresidential Main Uses. One wall or ground sign may be permitted on the premises of a permitted nonresidential main use located in a residential district.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.08   Design standards

In order to facilitate information legibility, traffic safety, general economic vitality and the preservation of unique historic resources, signs should be designed in a manner compatible with the character and style of immediate and neighboring buildings and signs.

More specifically, signs shall be designed in accordance with the following standards:

  1. (a) Signs in Series. Signs to be seen in series shall be designed with continuity and compatibility in terms of style, materials, color, size and location.

  2. (b) Color. The color of signs shall be compatible with the color of the building facade to which they relate.

  3. (c) Installation. Wall signs shall be designed to fit within any given frame of the architectural space intended for signage. The installation of any sign shall not irreparably damage any building cornice, ornament or other architectural details.

  4. (d) Lighting. Where permitted, lighting shall be in compliance with Chapter 1150 of this Planning and Zoning Code and designed and located so that light sources are shielded from creating glare in residential districts and streets and shall not be of excessive brightness or cause a glare hazardous to pedestrians or drivers.

  5. (e) Construction. All letters, figures, characters or representations in cutout or irregular form, maintained in conjunction with, attached to or superimposed upon any sign shall be safely and securely built or attached to the sign structure.

  6. (f) Wall Signs.

    1. (1) Wall signs shall not be erected, relocated or maintained so as to prevent free ingress to, or egress from any door, window or fire escape.

    2. (2) Wall signs shall not cover wholly or partially any wall opening.

    3. (3) Wall signs shall not project beyond the ends or top of the building wall to which it is attached or be set out more than six inches from the face of the building to which it is attached.

  7. (g) Awnings and Canopies.

    1. (1) Awnings or canopies shall not extend beyond a point twelve inches inside the curb line of the street.

    2. (2) All awnings and canopies shall be constructed and erected so that the lowest portion thereof is at least eight feet above the level of the sidewalk.

    3. (3) Awnings shall be constructed of such materials as may be approved by the Architectural Board of Review provided that all frames and support shall be metal. Every awning shall be attached to and supported by the building. Posts or columns beyond building lines shall not be permitted for awnings.

    4. (4) Canopies shall be constructed of such materials as may be approved by the Architectural Board of Review. The framework of all canopies shall be approved by the Architectural Board of Review in compliance with the Building Code.
      (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.09   Temporary signs

Temporary signs shall be permitted only in accordance with the following regulations:

  1. (a) General.

    1. (1) Temporary signs shall not be illuminated.

    2. (2) Temporary signs that show evidence of deterioration, dirt, damage, or discoloration shall be removed or replaced.

    3. (3) Temporary signs shall be placed no closer than five feet from any right of way line or property line.

    4. (4) The maximum height of a temporary sign shall be four feet except that a temporary sign located in a vision triangle of any public street intersection or intersection of a public street with a private street, alley, or driveway shall be two and one-half feet or less above curb level.

  2. (b) Window Signs. Interior temporary window signs that are intended to be visible from the public right of way, private street or sidewalk may occupy no more than thirty percent (30%) of the window area. The window area of each building or unit thereof shall be measured to include all glass area of windows and doors of the front façade. Glass area covered in a relatively permanent manner by nontransparent material shall be excluded from this measurement. Wherever possible, temporary window signs shall be clustered so that relatively large portions of window area remain unobstructed.

  3. (c) Wall and Ground Signs. Temporary wall and ground signs that are intended to be visible from the public right of way, private street or sidewalk, may be displayed in compliance with the following regulations:

    1. (1) One sign may be posted on property during active construction authorized by a Building Permit. Such sign shall not exceed twelve square feet in area.

    2. (2) One sign may be posted on property that is actively marketed for sale or lease. Such sign shall not exceed twelve square feet in area.

    3. (3) An additional twelve (12) square feet of non-commercial signage may be posted on a parcel.
      (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)

1143.10   General provisions

  1. (a) Construction. Permanent signs shall be constructed of permanent materials, maintained in good condition at all times, kept free of cracked or peeling paint, rust, missing or damaged sign panels or supports, and not obscured by weeds, grass or other vegetation.

  2. (b) Measurement Standards. The area of any sign shall be measured to include the area of the smallest single rectangle enclosing all elements of the sign, including letters, characters, designs, graphics and the space between the elements of the sign. For ground signs with the two sides in parallel, back-to-back arrangement, only one side of the sign shall be included in the measurement of the area. In determining the location of a sign in relation to lot lines, distances shall be measured from the vertical projection of the lot line to the closest point on the sign. The height of a ground sign shall be measured to the top of the sign panel. The supporting structure may extend a maximum of two feet above the sign panel.

  3. (c) Removal of Certain Signs. When a commercial sign is not associated with an existing commercial use of the property, or in the case of non- commercial signage, when the owner abandons the use associated with the sign, such sign shall be taken down and removed by the owner, agent or person having the beneficial use of the building or structure upon which such sign may be found, within ten days after written notification from the Administrator. Upon failure to comply with such notice within the time specified in such order, the Administrator is hereby authorized to cause removal of such sign, and any expenses incident thereto shall be paid by the owner of the building to which such sign is attached. Signs that are more than fifty years old, lawfully installed and attached to or on the same lot as a historically significant structure are considered to be of historic significance and are exempt from the requirements of this sub-section.

  4. (d) Unsafe and Unlawful Signs. If the Administrator’s inspection finds that any sign regulated herein is unsafe or insecure or is a menace to the public, or has been constructed or erected or is being maintained in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, notice shall be given in writing by the Administrator to the permittee thereof. If the permittee fails to remove or alter the sign so as to comply with the standards herein set forth within ten days after such notice, such sign may be removed by the Administrator at the expense of the permittee or owner of the property upon which it is located. The Administrator shall refuse to issue a permit for a sign or a building permit to any permittee or owner who refuses to pay costs so assessed. The Administrator may cause any sign which is an immediate peril to persons or property to be removed summarily and without notice, and give written notice of the sign removal to the owner of the lot and/or use when feasible.

  5. (e) Nonconforming Signs. Signs lawfully erected but made nonconforming by adoption of this Code or amendments thereto, are regulated by the provisions of Section 1145.03(d).

  6. (f) Presumption of Responsibility. The owner or occupant of any premises upon which a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter is apparent or the owner of any sign placed or remaining anywhere in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed prima-facie responsible for the violation so evidenced and subject to the penalty provided therefor.

  7. (g) Substitution of Noncommercial Message. Noncommercial signs may be substituted for any sign expressly permitted by this Chapter. Noncommercial signs shall be subject to the same permit requirements, restrictions on size and type, and other conditions and specifications that apply to the sign for which they are being substituted.
    (Ord. 2019-39. Passed 8-13-19.)