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Thread: Sign ordinance help

  1. #1

    Sign ordinance help

    I am sorry if this is covered in another thread - I looked back about 5 pages and didn't see anything similar enough.

    Anyway - we are thinking about making some major changes to our sign code and I am hoping that some of you will be able to help. We currently do not allow pole signs - only monument. We have a maximum height of 16' from grade (but will be changing this to r.o.w.), and a 1 sq. ft. per each lineal foot of building exposure. The bottom two feet of the sign must be kept free of sign copy.

    The problem we are having is that everyone thinks that they have to go up to the maximum 16' height limit, so we end up with a 5-9 foot metal (cheap) base, with the sign on top. They are typically unattractive and still way too large. We were thinking about requiring that the base be brick or stone and that the base can only be 1/3 or less of the sign's height, with at least a decorative sill (to aviod the "slab" look). That way, they will still be bound by the size requirements, but may not feel compelled to or even able to go to the full 16'height. We would change our height requirements, but we feel that the bigger problem is the unattractiveness of the signs that have been proposed.

    Any ideas or does anyone forsee any problems with this ordinance? This was just an idea that we came up with one day and now I am thinking about how it should be written - or IF it should be written. I woudl appreciate any comments/suggestions. Thank you!

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I think that would be fine the way you described. There's nothing wrong with establishing aesthetic standards for your signs. Make sure aesthetic character, blah blah blah, is mentioned in your comprehensive plan. I have the same problem developing down here with our monument signs and will be addressing it soon as well. The 1/3 is good because it stays consistent with all signs regardless of size (more fair) and avoids having a bunch of rock bases lined up at a minimum height (more aesthetic).

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
         
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    We permit a maximum height of 6 foot (including base), and 24 square feet in area. The base must be "masonry or a material which compliments the primary structure" and have 4 sqaure feet of landscaping for ever square foot of signage. Each of these signs also has to obtain architectural board approval. We have recently made a change to this for fear of losing any review process. Applicants can now installa a sign as described above with only Staff review but if they need/want a taller sign and are visible from one of the 3 highways running through the city they can go before the board and request a sign at a maximum of 35 feet in height and 100 square feet in area (WAY too large/tall in my opinion) but we haven't had anyone submit app for the maximum.
    By letting the Board review this, relief is granted if necessary but for the most part everyone has been complying with the ord for the past 3 years.

  4. #4
    Thanks Jaxspra and Suburb Repairman! I like the idea of mandatory landscaping. We don't have a comp plan yet, but we should be starting on it any month now... Do you think that if we added these standards before we have a comp plan that it could cause potential problems?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Those are good ideas. I think the simplest is to reduce the height to 5-8 feet. 16 ft. is pretty tall.

    One suggestion though...be careful about requireing landscaping. There are some opportunities where a monument sign looks fantastic when a manicured lawn runs right up to it.

  6. #6
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Ass. Planner
    Thanks Jaxspra and Suburb Repairman! I like the idea of mandatory landscaping. We don't have a comp plan yet, but we should be starting on it any month now... Do you think that if we added these standards before we have a comp plan that it could cause potential problems?
    Signage is not addressed in our Comp Plan. Then again our Comp Plan doesnt even have a land use map, its an odd (but good one) anyway, I don't think it would cause potential problems. And about the landscaping, I think gkmo62u is definately right on, there are plenty of signs that would look just fine without bushes and annuals, especially those that are not maintained after installation )

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Our ground signs are limited to six feet high. This is mentioned to encourage you to reduce your sign height. Signs can be higher of course if they are on the building.

    Six feet may be a little low if traffic or parking obscures the sign. In those limited cases maybe 10 feet would be ok.

  8. #8
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    My suggestion is to state in the code that the height is a maximum and that the maximum height for each ground sign submitted will be determined by the distance the sign's location is from the r.o.w. Or you can state that the maximum is at the discretion of the Plan Commission or other approving body.Be careful that you don't wind up with sign faces that are huge because the base has been made smaller or shorter. Maybe you need to ask if 16 feet is too high a maximum height for a ground sign.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    You could also create a percentage limitation of permitted sign area versus permitted base area, i.e. the support structure may be no more than 50% of the permitted sign face. For example, if you have a 100 square foot sign at 10x10', they could create a 5x10 support structure. I've worked with this in the past (I think it was 33%) and it was simple and effective. A regulation like this also stops people from creating what is essentially a wall to draw attention to the sign face that they don't think is large enough. It works for pole signs as well.

    I would also look into regulating the maximum height the bottom of the sign face may be from the grade (I'd keep it at 4 feet or less).

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