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Thread: Max signs per business

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mique28's avatar
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    Max signs per business

    Howdy, first post here... and its another sign ordinance question!

    Anyway, we have a glut of signs in our community and as we rewrite our sign code we are thinking of limiting the total number of signs per business. We want to cap the total number at 3 (any combo of ground, wall signs, awnings etc.). However, there has been some thought about challenges proposed by businesses and larger retailers which have signs for secondary purposes like "garden centers", "body shop" etc. We have seperate language to regulate on site operational signage but that is kept to a 5 sq.ft max and the signs we are worried about are the much larger ones on the walls of car dealers and big boxes.

    I am wondering about experiences/difficulties if your community has a total sign limit. Would it be wise to stick with a strict standard? ( we may add some relief to the requirement by allowing for appeals to our building board)
    Thanks for your thoughts

  2. #2
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Dibs on the Northeast
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    Quote Originally posted by mique28
    ..I am wondering about experiences/difficulties if your community has a total sign limit. Would it be wise to stick with a strict standard? ( we may add some relief to the requirement by allowing for appeals to our building board)...
    One city here has a 2 sign limit per business according to code. I like it and think it's reasonable, except for the excuse I heard recently from Lowe's -- "well, our gardening center and lumber yard are like seperate stores, in a bigger strip mall, so we think we should be able to have 2 signs for each of them as well." (yeah, that's gonna fly... )
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Three signs total seems too few to me. There are circumstances that would warrant more.

    Businesses that are on corner lots and would want 2 ground signs are also the same locations that would warrant 2 wall signs (one sign visible from each road).

    My community allows one ground sign per road frontage (corner lots get two ground signs) and one wall sign per wall facade (with a maximum of four facades per building). So theoretically, a McDonalds on a corner lot could have 2 ground signs and 4 wall signs for a total of 6 signs.

    We get a lot of grief from folks that want more multiple signs on the front facade (particularly the newer joint Taco Bell/Long John Silver fast food establishments). But other standalones also complain about it. A Chili's recently also wanted what would be considered 2 wall signs on their front facade. They simply changed their sign package.

    In my community the best change we made was to prohibit pole-style ground signs and allow only monument-style ground signs.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Bloomington, Minnesota
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    Think about not regulating the number, just the total size. You can limit the number of elevations (walls) that signs can be placed on. For example, see section (b) in:

    dubya dubya dubya dot
    ci.bloomington.mn.us/code/Code19_37.html#b19_113

    Then it's up to the building owner to decide how the space is split up, not the regulator.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BobH
    Think about not regulating the number, just the total size. You can limit the number of elevations (walls) that signs can be placed on. For example, see section (b) in:

    dubya dubya dubya dot
    ci.bloomington.mn.us/code/Code19_37.html#b19_113

    Then it's up to the building owner to decide how the space is split up, not the regulator.
    Thats how we do it, and it seems to work out well. The total amount of wall sign area is based upon street frontage and no individual sign can be over a certain amount. But the owner can split up that square footage anyway they want.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Michigan
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    We allow one freestanding sign and one wall sign. That's it! And, it has worked out well for us. For the secondary signs, they have to come through the ZBA for a variance.

    For multiple tenants, they are still allowed one freestanding sign and then each tenant is allowed one sign not to exceed 15% of their wall frontage.

    One city here has a 2 sign limit per business according to code. I like it and think it's reasonable, except for the excuse I heard recently from Lowe's -- "well, our gardening center and lumber yard are like seperate stores, in a bigger strip mall, so we think we should be able to have 2 signs for each of them as well." (yeah, that's gonna fly... )
    Scary thing is, that probably worked somewhere.

  7. #7
    We are also in the process of updating our sign code. In the early 90's our community went from a very loose sign code to an extremely restrictive sign code. The result was every new business coming into the community went to the Board of Appeals for relief from the strict standards. The maximum size of a wall sign in our community is 100 square feet and only one wall sign is permitted. A sign this size cannot be seen on a Lowe's that sets back 500 feet from the highway.

    I believe wall signage is a matter of proportion. Our draft code will use frontage as a standard for determining square footage and there will be no maximum. In addition, the business can divide the square footage into a maximum of three signs on a given building elevation.

    Beware making the standards too strict. You can turn your Appeals Board into a sign design Board. I don't know about other communities, but our Board of Appeals quickly became tired of hearing sign variance requests on a monthly basis.

  8. #8

    Registered
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    Solano County, California
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    [QUOTE=BobH

    Then it's up to the building owner to decide how the space is split up, not the regulator.[/QUOTE]

    Except when the building owner is clueless and the tenants fall to squabbling amongst themselves

    We allow one wall sign per facade, one monument style sign per road frontage. 60% tenancy length for wall sign, 1 square foot per linear foot. 60 square feet free-standing sign.

  9. #9
         
    Registered
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    'ville, California
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    We too restrict the number of signs. Our code restricts per category (e.g. one ground/monument sign, one pole sign) and by aggregate area. If an applicant wants to deviate from the code they may request a discretionary hearing where they will be required to substantiate their need for additional signs or sign area.

    We too had a request from a big box retailer to deviate from sign area because the structure was setback 300 feet. The Commission made the Code specified mandatory findings and approved the big box request.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mique28's avatar
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    Aug 2005
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    Thank you all for your input. It is funny that Lowe's has been referenced several times since that was exactly the business I am dealing with as I posed the question.

    Currently our draft ordinance proposes gross surface area limits and number limits for all sign categories (ex. 1 wall sign max per business, 2 if on corner, with size eqaul to .7 x lineal building wall not to exceed 150 sq. ft)

    I guess we were thinking of adding an overall business sign limit of 3 signs total so that we wouldn't have a business try to do two ground signs, two awning signs, two wall signs, two hanging signs etc etc.

    It sounds like the reviews are mixed on the overall sign limit... I too am fearful of having too many appeals to our building board. Perhaps an increase to 4 per building would add a little more flexibility while still addressing excess signage

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