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Non-Conforming Sign Regs?

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,509
Points
41
We're getting ready to give our sign code a major overhaul and we are looking for some guidance with handling existing signs. The new code will make many of our existing signs legal non-conforming. I'd like to see how other communities have handled this in re-writes. Any suggestions?

[OT] Chet is a godfather! My council adopted a new zoning district based largely around a link Chet provided in this thread:

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=11565

I get all sort of odd looks when I talk about "the chet district" ;-) [/OT]
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Here is how we delt with this topic at my old job. Fortunately, here I don't have to deal with signs.

5.7 NON-CONFORMING SIGNS
5.7.1 The provisions of this By-law with respect to existing signs which do not conform to the By-law at the time of its effective date shall not be construed to have a retroactive effect, except that relocation or removal of of any such non-conforming sign shall render such sign subject to the provisions of this By-law. The provisions of this section shall not exempt the owner of a non-conforming sign from the obligations of proper maintenance of such sign.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,952
Points
40
From my community's zoning:

2305 Pre-Existing Signs
A. Legally Pre-Existing Signs
Any sign located within the Town of Londonderry on the date of adoption of this Ordinance, which does not conform with the provisions of the Ordinance is eligible for characterization as a “legally preexisting” sign and is permitted, provided it also meets the following requirements:
1. The sign was covered by sign permit or variance on the date of adoption of this Ordinance if one was required under applicable law; or
2. If no sign permit was required under applicable law for the sign in question, the sign was in all respects in compliance with the applicable zoning law on the date of adoption of this Ordinance, and was in compliance with all other applicable Town ordinances or requirements.
B. Loss of Legal Non-Conforming Status
A legally preexisting sign shall immediately lose its legal preexisting status designation if:
1. The sign is altered in any way in structure or copy (except for changeable copy signs and normal maintenance);
2. The sign is relocated; or
3. The sign is replaced, other than replacing the sign in its exact original conditional and statements; or
4. The sign shall have been abandoned.
5. The sign advertises or calls attention to any products, businesses or activity which are no longer carried on or sold, whether generally or at the particular premises; or
6. The sign shall not have been repaired or properly maintained within 60 days after written notice to that effect has been given by the Building Inspector; or
7. On the happening of any one of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, the sign shall be immediately brought into compliance with this Ordinance with a new permit secured therefore, or shall be removed.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
We took a very aggressive and controversial approach that worked surprisingly well (with one hitch). In 1991 (well before I started) the new sign ordinance gave non-conforming signs with a replacement value of less than $3000 three (3) years to come into compliance and those whose replacement value exceeded $3000 ten (10) years to come into compliance. The only problem was that our code allowed monument signs to be 10-feet high and pole signs to be 15-feet high. The city was encouraging monument signs along the commercial corridors, but since pole signs gave you an extra 5-feet in height there was little incentive to go with the monument sign. I tried to get the ordinance changed prior to the end of the 10-year compliance so we could have all replacements be monument signs, however there was no desire, as one alderman put it, to “Change the rules in the middle of the game.” While they raised legitimate points, 99 percent of the businesses procrastinated and didn’t even consider coming into compliance until the final year, so it would have worked.

Anyhow, I was successful in getting pole signs prohibited after all of the businesses came into compliance, the only problem is that we have just created a bunch of non-conforming signs again. However we are not doing an amortization program this time. Signs must come into compliance if they change any of the text on the sign (like a face change) or if a new business comes in. Also, if the business comes to Plan Commission with an addition or something, we require that the sign come into compliance. Requiring them to bring it into compliance if they change the text is probably unconstitutional, but nobody has challenged it yet.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,509
Points
41
Thanks guys, I have a pretty good start now. I especially like the maintenance requirements -- hadn't thought of those :-$
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,232
Points
52
Any changes other than general maintenance requires sign to be modified to become conforming, or a 5 -year non-conforming sign agreement needs to be signed, permitting the owner to change the sign as many times as he would like, (each needs a permit), as long as it does not increase the non-conformity, and at the end of the 5 years, the sign needs to be removed. The 5-year non-conforming sign agreement also waves the right to go to the ZBA.
 
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