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How do you regulate sculptures on commercial property?

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
How do different communities regulate things like outdoor sculptures or fountains on commercial property? Is it treated as landscaping? Signage? What types of approval process is required?
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
depends on the what the sculpture is.

If the sculpture is a giant McD logo..then it is a sign... if it's a sculpture of Ronald McD..again a sign. if it is an object or figure that could be put on any property without conveying a message as to the product or service provided at that faciltiy it is landscaping or art.
 

ssc

Cyburbian
Messages
209
Points
9
We had a developer propose a small sculpture park in our historic district. We looked at the sculpture as an element of the overall site plan - just like benches, landscaping, etc. However, when we demanded to know what the sculptures would look like, the developer claimed first amendment protection - said since it was art we could not regulate it. We turned him down anyway, for other reasons.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
Here is the hypothetical situation ;-) :

A place that sells burgers and frozen custard wants a bunch of cow sculptures (like 20 or so) lined up. I think that it should be regulated as a sign because it is drawing attention to the business. Most of their products come from cows either as custard or meat. I think it goes beyond being a work of art and leans more towards an attention getting device. If this is approved, what will stop McDonalds across the street from putting up a bunch of Burger "sculptures"
 

Becky'sWay

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
If it is not advertising anything then it is an accessory use. I think a bunch of bronze cows would look better than a sign. :) Maybe you should just tell them that farms are not allowed in that district. :D Sounds like your law department needs to have an opinion on what constitutes a sign. Let me know what happens, this is interesting.

We had an interesting question here about 6 months ago, someone wanted to put a visa flag on their American flag pole. Sign. Couldn't do it.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
A steak restaurant in a nearby city put a fiberglass cow out front a few years ago, and I believe it was classified as a sign, but permitted to remain.

This seems to be one of those, "don't ask me to define what real "art" is, I just know it when I see it" kind of things.

Repo Man said:
Here is the hypothetical situation ;-) :

A place that sells burgers and frozen custard wants a bunch of cow sculptures (like 20 or so) lined up. I think that it should be regulated as a sign because it is drawing attention to the business. Most of their products come from cows either as custard or meat. I think it goes beyond being a work of art and leans more towards an attention getting device. If this is approved, what will stop McDonalds across the street from putting up a bunch of Burger "sculptures"
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
This is similar to the Big Boy issue we discussed a while back. Canton Twp said the Big Boy statue in front of the restaurant was a sign, and ordered it be removed:

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=11562

In April, the judge said the township should check with the arts commission for them to determine if it would be considered public art. The township basically decided that if the owner painted over the words "Big Boy" on the statues chest it wouldn't be considered a sign:

http://www.detnews.com/2004/editorial/0407/15/a10-210021.htm

I agree with Boiker:
If it is an object or figure that could be put on any property without conveying a message as to the product or service provided at that faciltiy it is landscaping or art.
In this situation it would be hard - one cow statue might be fine, but 20 of them???? I just noticed that this is from the beginning of July. Did anything end up happening on this? Let us know how this works out.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
SW MI Planner said:
In this situation it would be hard - one cow statue might be fine, but 20 of them???? I just noticed that this is from the beginning of July. Did anything end up happening on this? Let us know how this works out.
I'm in discussion with a furniture store that feels that a chair sculpture is not a sign becuase it doesn't say anything. I told them because they are a furniture busienss, the chair is illustrating what products they sell, therefore, a sign.

I'll let you know what the final decision is.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
boiker said:
I'm in discussion with a furniture store that feels that a chair sculpture is not a sign becuase it doesn't say anything. I told them because they are a furniture busienss, the chair is illustrating what products they sell, therefore, a sign.

I'll let you know what the final decision is.
How would you treat a sculpture in front of an art gallery?
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
Cardinal said:
How would you treat a sculpture in front of an art gallery?
It is art...

What about some years back when Chicago had all those cow sculptures painted by famous artists? If Beef-A-Roo desired to buy one, and put it in the parking lot, how would that be treated?

I think that if it came down to it, it would be the cities burden to show intention to utilize the sculpture as advertising.

boiker said:
I'm in discussion with a furniture store that feels that a chair sculpture is not a sign becuase it doesn't say anything. I told them because they are a furniture busienss, the chair is illustrating what products they sell, therefore, a sign.

I'll let you know what the final decision is.
That is signage... We had a case just like that with a Furniture Row (can I use names???) and we told them no, you can not have two massive chairs on top of each other if it will exceed the total permitted signage.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
Hmm.....

If your intent is to regulate the use of commercial statues, then check to see if the symbol is registered as a trademark of the company for commercial purposes. If so, then it is a commercial statue/sign and not allowed (after you amend your code of course and convince your attorney B-) ) Keep away from using the term sculpture, as it tends to connote art.

By the way, I think it would be a great idea for commercial establishments to have non-commercial art (sculptures) in their landscape areas.....very cool :cool: .....and could be pedestrian friendly in the right places....
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,716
Points
71
A steak house with a big steer on the roof? I'm sorry, but I just don't see how a model/sculpture/icon representing the object one is selling could be anything other than a 'sign'. I mean, it's the oldest form of advertising out there - think medieval (and later) European towns. The largely illiterate population would rely on icons showing a mortar and pestle, for example, to identify an apothecary shop or a fish for the fish seller, or a big candle for a chandler. In the case of 'icons' such as Ronald McDonald or Pig Boy, these are registered trademarks - try putting one in front of your newly opened Joe's Burger Joint and count how many seconds it would take til you have a team of lawyers pounding on your door.
In terms of what is 'art' (as opposed to some sort of cultural artifact) this matter has already been thoroughly explored with Roy Liechtenstein and Andy Warhol.....context is everything. A can of Campbells tomato soup is 'art' if one is not trying to sell tomato soup. if one has a giant inflatable can of tomato soup atop one's supermarket - it's a sign.
I sometimes get frustrated (even with fellow planners) by some people's inability to make this distinction of context .
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
In anyone in the K-zoo area gets a chance, last night I was on Stadium Drive, and two opposing car dealerships (one on each side) have to massive (25+ feet) inflatable figures facing each other. One is Godzilla, the other is a Texan Gun Fighter.

Is this signage since the context is obviously not indicating that they sell guns, lizards, hats, or anything other than cars?
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,716
Points
71
michaelskis said:
In anyone in the K-zoo area gets a chance, last night I was on Stadium Drive, and two opposing car dealerships (one on each side) have to massive (25+ feet) inflatable figures facing each other. One is Godzilla, the other is a Texan Gun Fighter.

Is this signage since the context is obviously not indicating that they sell guns, lizards, hats, or anything other than cars?
Anything inflatable, colored purple and standing 30 feet tall next to a roadway in front of a car dealership is intended to draw attention to the car dealership. Yep, it's a sign in that context. The same 30 ft tall purple dinosaur in your back yard would probably not be.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
our code requires special permits for inflatible devices :) that includes balloons on cars, inflatable dinos, 'dancers", etc.
 
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