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Sign square footage


Our sign ordinance allows a maximum of 100 square feet for a free standing sign. Our local billboard operator has taken to putting up pole-top sign structures of 132 sq, ft. They contain a 100 sq. ft. sign at the top and 32 sq. ft. of "structural trim" (enameled, corrugated sheet metal) roughly 3 ft high across the entire width of the sign at the bottom, supposedly in order to eliminate or reduce roadside glare from the lights used to illuminate the signs. We planners say this "trim" is part of the sign area and its real purpose is to make the sign larger. The billboard operator disagrees. Have any of you dealt with a similar problem? How did you address it. Our ordinance is a little ambiguous, and there is no prospect of amending it.


Dear Leader
Staff member
How is "sign area" defined in the zoning code? Does it specify "display area" (i.e. the area inside any borders and/or frames) or rather the structural area?

One thing I've seen billboard operators use to make their signs look larger is to use vinyl "wraps" on a 24-sheet (12'x25') billboard, where the display area covers the billboard frame. Some zoning codes specify 300 square feet as the largest size billboard permitted; the wraps increase the display area to about 380 square feet, without increasing the structure size.

There's also "cutouts" on larger (14'x48') billboards, but many codes accomodate the practice (i.e. "maximum display area 672 square feet, plus 67 square feet for cutouts")

100 square feet for a freestanding sign is quite large, IMHO. Well, in most Texas cities, 100 square feet is downright puny, but here in the Denver metro, it'd be illegal in most areas.