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Signs / billboards Content neutral sign regulations

mcmplans

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
Does anyone have any good examples of content neutral sign ordinances? I am in the process of doing a rewrite of our sign ordinance and am leaning toward content neutral (as is the Mayor and Board) and need some examples. Help?
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
The APA guide is really helpful.

Content Neutral? All sign ordinances are supposed to be content neutral. You are not legally allowed to regulate on the basis of content. That would be a violation of free speech.
 

mcmplans

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
All sign ordinances are supposed to be content neutral. True. Most are not. I have not been able to find any good examples that are content neutral. They all have some regulations based on the content of the sign (such as political sign, real estate sign, etc.).

Thanks for the link to the APA document. I hope that it will help.
 

SideshowBob

Cyburbian
Messages
110
Points
6
OhioPlanner said:
The APA guide is really helpful.

Content Neutral? All sign ordinances are supposed to be content neutral. You are not legally allowed to regulate on the basis of content. That would be a violation of free speech.
So in other words, if a sign otherwise meets your standards, it can advertise something else? If a pizza parlor wants to use some of its signage to advertise for Target, it can do so?

Put another way, it is not legal to say that signs must not be "off-premise," meaning that they cannot advertise something that does not occur on the site
 

Otis

Cyburbian
Messages
5,164
Points
28
SideshowBob said:
So in other words, if a sign otherwise meets your standards, it can advertise something else? If a pizza parlor wants to use some of its signage to advertise for Target, it can do so?

Put another way, it is not legal to say that signs must not be "off-premise," meaning that they cannot advertise something that does not occur on the site
In Oregon, that is the case. I'm not sure about other states, however, since the free speech provision in Oregon's constitution is broader than that in the federal bill of rights.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,860
Points
38
SideshowBob said:
Put another way, it is not legal to say that signs must not be "off-premise," meaning that they cannot advertise something that does not occur on the site
Not so in NH. Off premise signs are entirely "bannable." You just have to be consistent in how they're treated, and cannot treat different types of speech differently.
 

stella

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
mcmplans said:
Does anyone have any good examples of content neutral sign ordinances? I am in the process of doing a rewrite of our sign ordinance and am leaning toward content neutral (as is the Mayor and Board) and need some examples. Help?
Go to Municode and lookup City of Miramar Florida - recently written by an attorney who is an expert in sign law. Also very detailed and illustrative (this being a community that is highly design-oriented).
 

SideshowBob

Cyburbian
Messages
110
Points
6
Our Code is NOT content nuetral. For example, in a Residential zone, permitted businesses (typically Churches) can have signs that serve only to show the name and address of the business. We have a Church that wants moveable letters, but I said no.

So should I enforce our code or should i allow any content to be constitutional?


(I would like my job if not for signs ;-) )
 

Lyburnum

Cyburbian
Messages
85
Points
4
True, standards for real estate signs and political signs are, by definition, regulated by content, but I think this is one area where even the most careful attorneys would feel comfortable with stepping into content. (I worked on several sign ordinances with a nationally recognizd sign expert and he didn't have a problem with singling out political and real estate signs as separate sign types). However, when you do regulate political signs, its a good idea to define them as signs related to any political issue, election, referendum, etc. Don't define them as signs related to an election for a specific candidate. Also, its safer as far as potential litigation to not say that they have to be taken down X number of days after the election, referendum, etc.

Its also good to have a blanket statement saying that a noncommercial message may be substituted on a sign where there would normally be a commercial message. This substitution, though, does not waive any sign area, height, or other requirements.
 
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