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Thread: Temporary signs: electronic message boards

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rosierivets's avatar
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    Temporary signs: electronic message boards

    A business has requested permission to post a temporary sign which will feature full color electronic message board capabilities. The community recently approved an amendment to the sign ordinance which regulated electronic message boards, however, technology advances so quickly that their temporary use was not examined. Has anyone seen this? Anyone regulate it? Any photographs? I don't even know what this would look like. It's not standard programable copy like the highway signs that say "left lane closed ahead".

    Also, until our code fully addresses this issue, do we view it in light of our temporary sign provisions or the electronic message board provisions or some hybrid?!?
    How about you take a gander at making an executive decision for once, huh?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Hybrid

    Apply the most restrictive provisions of each ordinance. That's what I'd do.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Ban ALL electronic message board signs now and never look back.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Ban ALL electronic message board signs now and never look back.
    Agreed. We ban all signs whose copy changes more than once in 24 hours. I believe the signs you are talking about are like big television screens (we have two that snuck in under our ban and they are nothing but trouble), or at the least able to display extensive animation. They are very attention-grabbing, and for that reason very problematic since they distract drivers (at least they distract me).

    Read your ordinance carefully and see if you can find restrictions like RJ said to impede them at least. It likely will come down to a judgment call. Look also in your street and public safety ordinances for stuff about distractions to drivers.

    Are we talking about a car dealer?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Our ordinance allows electronic signage, but copy changes are allowed only once per minute, and the change must be completed within one second.

    ie No "crawling" messages, and no "videos."

    Advertising, time and temperature change could be shown on the same one minute (or longer) static display.

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    .... We ban all signs whose copy changes more than once in 24 hours....
    Otis, can you post some language or a link to that effect? Our attorney has been directed to provide some recommendations but is dragging his feet. Maybe I'll assume this task. Thanks in advance.

  7. #7
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I might me getting a little off topic here, but after some research this morning, I came up with this.

    SECTION 3005. General Sign Standards.

    10. Electronic Signs. A permanent sign consisting of text, symbolic imagery, or both, that uses an electronic display created through use of a pattern of lights in a dot matrix configuration allowing the sign face to intermittently change the image without having to physically or mechanically replace the sign face, including an LED (Light Emitting Diode) sign, as distinguished from a static image sign. No electronic sign shall:

    a. Contain or display animated, moving video, or scrolling advertising.
    b. Display an image, symbol, or combination thereof for a period of time less than sixty (60) minutes and a change in image, symbol, or combination shall be accomplished within two (2) seconds and occur simultaneously. Once changed, the symbol or image shall remain static until the next change.
    c. Display more than ten (10) different displays per cycle.

    An electronic sign must:

    a. Contain a default mechanism that freezes the sign in one position if a malfunction occurs.
    b. Automatically adjust the intensity of its display according to natural ambient light conditions.
    This would be in addition to the general requirements of our sign ordinance.

    Any thougths, recommendations? Thanks

  8. #8
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We ban them. Here's the definition and the section of the ordinance:

    Definition:

    SIGN, ELECTRONIC MESSAGE BOARD: A sign with a fixed or changing display/message composed of a series of lights that may be changed through electronic means. Signs whose alphabetic, pictographic, or symbolic informational content can be changed or altered on a fixed display screen composed of electrically illuminated segments.

    Ordinance Language:

    3.11.7.5 Illumination of Signs
    3.11.7.5.1 Direct and indirect lighting of signs is permitted, provided it meets the criteria from Section 3.13 of the Site Plan Regulations.
    3.11.7.5.2 Externally illuminated signs and signs that are consistent with Section 3.12.g of the Site Plan Regulations are strongly encouraged.
    3.11.7.5.3 Animated, moving, flashing, and noise making signs are prohibited. Changeable electronic message board signs are prohibited in all zoning districts.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    from my little town:

    BB. Signs and advertising. A
    (2) Prohibitions.
    (e) Moving parts, blinking, banners. No sign shall have visible moving parts, or blinking, intermittent, moving, or glaring illumination, or consist, in whole or in part, of banners, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners or other similar devices. Analog clocks, analog thermometers, national or state flags, and temporary banners permitted by Subsection BB(6)(b) below shall be permitted as the only exceptions to this subsection.
    (f) String of lights. A string of lights shall not be used for the purpose of advertising or attracting attention; provided, however, that this subsection shall not be construed to prohibit tivoli-type stair tread and aisle safety lighting nor to prohibit the display of traditional Christmas decorations.
    (g) Outdoor neon signs. Outdoor neon signs are prohibited, except that neon signs containing only the words "Vacancy" or "No Vacancy" and limited to a maximum sign area of two square feet are permitted for transient accommodations classified as TA-2, TA-5, TA-7 or TA-8 and located in business and corridor districts.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Otis, can you post some language or a link to that effect? Our attorney has been directed to provide some recommendations but is dragging his feet. Maybe I'll assume this task. Thanks in advance.
    We did it through interpreting our ban on flashing or moving signs. In that interpretation, which was approved by the city council as the "right" interpretation, we refined the defininition of flashing sign to mean one on which the copy changed more than once in a 24-hour period. It's a long document, but I can PM it to you if you want.

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Thanks, Otis, but we're going a different direction and not using interpretation. We want to make it crystal clear and to regulate them to the point where it's not worth the effort to the outdoor advertising industry.



    To you lucky folks where they are banned: nothing better than I'd like to propose but there's that thingy about keeping my job and coming home to a roof over my head and food on the table. Just being realistic. Ya eat an elephant one bite at a time. It's an education process here on the Redneck Riviera.

  12. #12
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The pin headed planning commissioners gutted my electronic sign ordinance this afternoon (we dropped the image duration to 5-minutes--the only change from my earlier post--oh, and we exempted time, temp signs). They're recommending the board adopt the lax Florida DOT standards. Wow, what cajones the pc put on display. My sense is our proposed amendment will be received more favorably at the board (remember the C&D landfill moratorium the board passed over your objections, pc? A-holes).

    I think it's time for another glass of wine.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Advertising, time and temperature change could be shown on the same one minute (or longer) static display.
    Are you saying you only allow time and temperature? That's a fine 1st amendment line you are walking. You can't allow time/temp or say gas prices to be illuminated or changeable and not other words or phrases without getting into the courts at some point.
    @GigCityPlanner

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    The text is not limited.
    It could include Time, Temperature, and Message all at the same time.

  15. #15
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Have we (read that me), ever been catching a rash of shit for our proposed set of regulations for electronic billboards--the newspaper editorial, published letters to the editor, crap posted on the TV and newspaper bulletin boards, etc., ...Good thing I have a thick skin and I can always say, "Hey, the Board directed us to come up with some recommendations."

    Otis, I mentioned that my research showed one community prohibited changing copy less than 24-hours. I was fortunate to exit that public hearing with my single arse hole.

  16. #16
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    A couple more links to 2 cases relative to electronic signs from my hometown. Looks like the courts are supporting (thus far) the notion that a ban of electronic message boards is constitutional:

    http://www.htosecure.org/LGCWebSite/...iclefall07.htm
    http://www.courts.state.nh.us/suprem...7/carls161.pdf
    http://www.planning.org/amicusbriefs...erjewelers.pdf
    http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/p...50/1043/NEWS01
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  17. #17
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The zoning code of the community where I live has a fairly strict sign code that, among other things, bans ...

    "Animated, flasher, blinker, racer type, intermittent, rotating, moving or revolving signs, whirligig devices, inflatable signs and tethered balloons, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners, exposed light bulbs, and strings of lights not permanently mounted to a rigid background"

    ... but not too long ago the city architectural review board approved an extremely obnoxious, constantly animated electronic message center for a dentist. It's not a message change every 30 seconds, or even every five; it's non-stop animation, like a sign on the Las Vegas Strip.

    A question to those still doing current planning and zoning administration: it's rare that I see a zoning code that doesn't prohibit animated signs in some form. How are electronic message centers slipping past the bans?

  18. #18
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    The zoning code of the community where I live has a fairly strict sign code that, among other things, bans ...

    "Animated, flasher, blinker, racer type, intermittent, rotating, moving or revolving signs, whirligig devices, inflatable signs and tethered balloons, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners, exposed light bulbs, and strings of lights not permanently mounted to a rigid background"

    ... but not too long ago the city architectural review board approved an extremely obnoxious, constantly animated electronic message center for a dentist. It's not a message change every 30 seconds, or even every five; it's non-stop animation, like a sign on the Las Vegas Strip.

    A question to those still doing current planning and zoning administration: it's rare that I see a zoning code that doesn't prohibit animated signs in some form. How are electronic message centers slipping past the bans?
    Strangely, our code allows on-premise changeable copy and electronic signs.

    I'm hoping we have the votes at the Board of prevent retrofitting existing static signs to changeable electronic signs.

    The Florida Administrative Code stipulates that billboard signs remain static for a period of not less than 6 seconds. At the last public hearing, a rep from the industry proudly stated their electronic signs remain static for 6.5 seconds. How nice of them.

  19. #19
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    A question to those still doing current planning and zoning administration: it's rare that I see a zoning code that doesn't prohibit animated signs in some form. How are electronic message centers slipping past the bans?
    Well they aren't getting away with it while this here sheriff is in town. But yes, I've noticed the Town Next Door does not bother to enforce its own sign ordinances.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    safety studies?

    We are contemplating electronic signs here too - we already have a ban on animated, as does every code I've looked at throughout Florida. The Plan Board has now recommended prohibition of electronic signs THREE TIMES and the Commission still seems to want to allow them.

    So here is my question: the City Attorney has asked if we have any safety studies that will back up a ban or limitation on electronic/LED signs - can anyone help with that?

    Also, has anyone set brightness measures to regulate how bright they can be? There's one here in town that could burn holes in your retinas and we'd really like to set a measurement in candelas, nits, whatever.

    Thanks!

  21. #21
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Try Scenic America. Use caution as some of the studies are dated and the outdoor advertising industry will rebut with their own studies.

    http://www.scenic.org/

  22. #22
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Here's an interesting twist on the electronic sign issue. There's a vehicle similar to this that travels through our town but it has changeable non-illuminated signs on three sides.

    Owner of electronic-billboard trucks sues state, sheriff

    Advertisers like Palm Tree Mobile Billboards.

    The Oviedo company displays electronic ads on trucks that roam Central Florida's roads. The signs can change images every few seconds, grabbing potential customers' attention.

    Problem is, they grab law enforcement's attention, too. Palm Tree Mobile Billboards has filed one lawsuit against Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary and another against the head of Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in response to traffic tickets written because of lights on the company's trucks.

    A Palm Tree truck driver was cited on two occasions under a state statute that forbids flashing and blue lights on vehicles under many circumstances.
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...,4946455.story

  23. #23
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sbniemann View post

    So here is my question: the City Attorney has asked if we have any safety studies that will back up a ban or limitation on electronic/LED signs - can anyone help with that?
    According to the Federal Courts, you don't need the studies. See Naser V. Concord, I've grabbed the pertinent section below...

    NJI argues that Concord must perform studies to prove that the ban on EMCs in fact supports its stated interests. Concord was under no obligation to do such studies or put them into evidence. Justice Brennan suggested the need for such evidence in his concurring opinion in Metromedia, but seven justices rejected his position. Metromedia, 453 U. S. at 521, 528 (Brennan, J., oncurring) ; see also Outdoor .Sys. Inc. v. City of Lexana, 67 F. Supp. 2d 1231, 1238 (D. Kan. 1999) ("Relying on Justice Brennan' s concurring opinion in Metromedia, plaintiff claims that the City has the burden to come forward with evidence which demonstrates that billboards actually impair traffic safety and the beauty of the environment. Plaintiff ignores the fact that seven Justices rejected Justice Brennan's analysis in this regard.").

    As noted in Ackerly Communications of the Northwest v. Krochalis, 108 F.3d 1095, 1099-1100 (9th Cir. 1997), "[also a matter of law Seattle's ordinance, enacted to further the city's interests in esthetics and safety, is a constitutional restriction on commercial speech without detailed proof that the billboard regulation will in fact advance the city's interests." Similarly, the Sixth Circuit observed in rejecting the argument that a city needed to produce evidence to justify its regulation on billboard size: "To ask the City to justify a size restriction of 120 square feet over, say, 200 square feet or 300 square feet would impose great costs on local governments . . . ." Prime-Media, 398 F.3d at 823-24.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  24. #24
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What about the LED time/temp signs? If you permit those, but not the others, is that regulating content of the sign?

    I am working on an ordinance which would prohibit them all.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  25. #25
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What about the LED time/temp signs? If you permit those, but not the others, is that regulating content of the sign?

    I am working on an ordinance which would prohibit them all.
    Up until a few months ago, in NH if you allowed time/temp, you had to allow other electronic signs. That was reversed in the Carlson's V. Concord case: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/suprem...7/carls161.pdf

    It is much easier, IMO, and more fairly applied if you just ban all EMC's, see my post above with our ordinance language (which was in response to the earlier court case that stated time/temp cannot be separated from all EMC's)
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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