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Thread: Sign ordinance: exemptions for certain economic areas?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
    Dec 2006

    Sign ordinance: exemptions for certain economic areas?

    Our city is proposing some pretty broad and far-reaching sign amendments - adds, deletes and rephrasing.

    Now, there is a portion of our city, about 5% or less of the land area, that comprises our class 'A' office and heavy retail. This region is a huge, huge economic/employment generator for the city and its tax revenue is a big part of the reason our residential tax millage rate is so low.

    This area straddles our city limits/county line with the neighboring jurisdiction. There is in place a Community Improvement District overlay that affects both portions of the region, our side & their side. (For those that don't know, a CID is a voluntary "tax" paid into a fund run by the CID Board. The Board, in a quasi-govermental role, can then initiate stricter standards for design & construction in the District, and also utilize those "taxes" for public improvements like infrastructure & transportation.)

    Well, being the good neighbors we are, we decided to forward a draft copy of our proposed changes to the CID, prior to the Public Hearings on the changes. Their general response was that they didn't want to be a part of the new standards. They want to be exempted. So as not to lose the whole of the document, the City powers are seeking to aquiesce. In essence, they want to develop an applicability for our sign code that exempts the CID.

    Question: Is it conceivable that a sign ordinance can act as an overlay standard? And if so, can we apply that overlay standard to 95% of our City and exempt the CID?

    I ask because that's the way I'm being told to couch the proposal. It's not a sign ordinance for which 5% of the city is exempt; it's an overlay which affects 95% of the city.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
    Aug 1997
    Clowns to the left, jokers to the right
    What regulations the sign ordinance applies to different areas of the city should probably be based on the physical conditions of those areas, rather than the fiscal conditions (such as the taxes they are subject to or exempt from).

    You mentioned that the CID can "initiate stricter standards for design & construction in the District". If the district is, or can be, physically distinguished from other areas, you may be able to justify the discrepancy between the rules applied to it and the other parts of the jurisdiction. Otherwise, you open yourself up to an arbitrary and capricious claim.
    Debt is normal . . . Be weird!
    Dave Ramsey

    "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Aug 2005
    in a meeting
    I have exempted sign regs from PUD-type applications and empowered the permitting authority to review signage as part of the application package

    currently we do the package approach to our "institutional zones" or campuses

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
    Aug 2005
    Clearwater, FL

    Sign Code exemptions

    I think it's acceptable to vary or except sign requirements for different areas. For example, here in Clearwater, FLA we prohibit or limit freestanding signs depending on the area.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

  5. #5
    Apr 2009
    Wow this is an interesting question and I'm sure an attorney can provide some valuable information regarding first amendment protection. Have you spoken to your attorney about this? Does he/she think it is defensible, to have 5% of the City area exempt from your sign regulations?

    Usually you see different or more strict regulations for an identified overlay or study area, not the opposite as your CID board is suggesting.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
    Mar 2002
    Upper left edge
    We have zone-specific and neighborhood-specific sign ordinance standards. From a legal standpoint they are relatively easy to justify.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    Short answer, YES you can. I would suggest that you add a preamble to the ordinance justifying the exemption.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
    Aug 2008
    Comer, GA
    You mentioned the straddling of jurisdictions.

    Does the CID impose any stnadards/limits of its own?

    I can imagine a sudden sprouting of a billboard forest if the district were completely exempted from regulation.

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