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Thread: school signs in residential districts

  1. #1

    school signs in residential districts

    I'm working on a request to modify the zoning ordinance to allow schools to increase the sign area for freestranding signs from 32 square feet in residential districts to 70 square feet? possibly larger.

    The second issue is a commercial company donates the sign in return for having their name and logo on top of the sign.

    My concerns are:
    1) the off-premise advertising aspects of this in residential zones
    2) potential percentage of the sign allowed for the company logo
    3) should commercial names and logos be allowed on school signs in residential zones
    4) Should schools be allowed to include company names and logos without opening this to all public and quasi-public uses within the residential district.

    I found an ordinance that allows schools to have two freestanding signs with each sign not to exceed 48 square feet of sign area as long as the street frontage was greater than 500 feet and the signs were 300 feet apart. One could be purely a reader board sign.

    Any experience with this would be appreciated

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    70 square feet is reasonable, not very big really when you think abolut a school site on 25 to 50 acres, particularly if it is some form of ground based monument sign. The readerboard No pylons. Keep the height to a minimum and all of a sudden you have a nice entrance feature. Require a planting bed.

    Now the "Unilever Jarcik Senior High School Presented by Pepsi" becomes more problematic.

    I understand and appreciate the quid pro quo of donating the sign in exchange for some small, minor advertising for the sign company.

    However, I am wondering, can they donate the sign, retain all tax advantages associated with the act, and get their name advertised?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    So schools are selling their naming rights now too

    The Pacific Bell Elementary School....

    No seriously, the size of the sign doesn't appear to be a problem, but I do think you may run into adverse opinions regarding the advertising.

  4. #4

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    I just dealt with this issue - and it was ugly. The short version of the story is that the school district put up an electronic readerboard sign with a Pepsi logo on it. Our zoning code prohibits electronic readerboards, and they did not get a permit. After attempting a variance, trying to call it a 'public informational sign', and three public hearings, the School District was ultimately told by the City Council to remove the sign. And it only took five months!

    The issue for us focused on the electronic readerboard, but there were lots of comments about advertising on school property, selling soft drinks to kids in the school, and incompatibility the surrounding residential neighborhood.

    Here is a photo of the sign:
    http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=455

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    The exact same thing happened to me in a prior job, except to boot, the Pepsi log constituted off-premise advertising as banned by our ordinance. In the end, they were granted dimensional and use variances for the signs, even though our code specifically prohibited use variances! UGGG!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    it would look to me as if there was a bottling plant at the vo-tec center by the size of that sign...

    if the school needs to get info out...send it home with the kids...you don't NEED to broadcast it a la Times Square.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I see nothing wrong with the traditional readerboard (and I don't mind the electronic board either) that publicizes school events like 'Homecoming Saturday" or whatever.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I would agree with some of the comments above. A readerboard may make sense for an institution which has varied programming of community events. At the same time, the sign should be subdued, well landscaped, and a monument rather than pylon sign.

    As for advertising, I am very much against it. Schools and other public buildings should not be sold out to commercial interests.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Michael's right, it is usually all about design.

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