A wide variety of signs exist throughout our city, from local businesses to billboards. The Signs Standards are intended to:
- Protect the health, safety, property, and welfare of the public;
- Provide neat, clean, orderly, and attractive appearance of the community;
- Improve sign effectiveness;
- Provide for safe construction, location, erection, and maintenance of signs;
- Minimize adverse visual safety factors to the traveling public, and
- Comply with all applicable provisions of state and federal law regarding freedom of speech and sign content neutrality.
All signs and advertising devices within city limits must be established, altered, changed, erected, construction, reconstructed, moved, divided, enlarged, demolished, or maintained using these standards, and in alignment with state and federal law.
The following signs are not allowed in any zoning district, unless permitted specifically by another section of the zoning code, or by other city, state, or federal law:
- Signs or posters that are visible from any public way and are affixed to walls, buildings, trees, poles, fences, bridges, or other structures;
- Signs placed on any public street right-of-way, sidewalk, pole, bridge, or tree;
- Banners, pennants, strings of lights, ribbons, streamers, balloons, mechanically aided, or similar devices that call attention rather than contribute to the establishment decor;
- Portable signs except those allowed as temporary signs and those allowed in the MX-5 district;
- Signs whose lighting, location, or appearance could be mistaken for official traffic safety signs and lights, or municipal vehicle warnings;
- Any sign attached to or placed on a vehicle or trailer that is parked on public or private property or driven on public or private streets, unless it meets specific standards;
- Roof signs;
- Animated signs;
- Strobe lights or flashing lights;
- Any sort of sign used to advertise or display any visual message, on or in direct connection with any seating bench, unless authorized by the regional public transportation system authority as permitted by the Planning Director; and
- Abandoned signs, including but not limited to any on-premises sign that relates to an establishment that no longer occupies or operates on the property where the sign is located.
When Are Sign Permits Required?
Any sign that is installed requires city approval unless specifically exempted by the Sign Standards in the zoning code, or other city, state, or federal law. Sign permits are not required for a change of copy, repainting, or other normal maintenance and repair, as long as there is no expansion of the sign structure or surface. The following general sign types are exempt and do not have to get a sign permit:
- Official notices authorized by a court, public body, or public safety official;
- Directional, warning, or informational signs authorized by a government;
- Memorial plaques, establishment identification signs, and building cornerstones when cut or carved into a masonry surface or when made an integral part of the building or structure;
- The flag of government or noncommercial institution, such as a school;
- Religious symbols and seasonal decorations;
- Works of art containing no form of advertising;
- Street address signs and combination nameplate and street address signs that contain no advertising copy and which do not exceed 6 square feet in area;
- Signs oriented only to the property on which they are located and which are not visible from the public right-of-way, such as a restaurant menu board;
- Signs in the display windows of an establishment that are incorporated in a display of merchandise;
- "No Trespassing," "No Dumping," or similar signs not to exceed one and one-half square feet in area and not exceeding four per parcel;
- Window signs that maintain 25 percent or less aggregate area of the window area;
- Political signs that are not placed in any public right-of-way and do not obstruct traffic visibility; and
- Neighborhood identification, and wayfinding signage approved as a community program.
The following temporary signs are exempt and do not have to get a sign permit:
- Non-illuminated real estate signs that follow the defined quantity, size, and location requirements;
- Non-illuminated signs temporarily erected during construction to inform the public of the project nature that follow the defined quantity, size, and location requirements; and
- Pennants, flags, banners, balloons, and promotional sandwich boards during and for community events in the Grove that do not remain overnight, and follow defined size, location, and approval requirements.
General Sign Standards
To support the goals outlined by the Sign Standards, general standards apply regarding:
- Sign measurement, including sign height and area;
- Design, including any support structures, and the overall architectural style;
- Traffic visibility, including through the clear vision triangle, and in relation to intersections and driveway entrances;
- Boundaries when adjacent to Residential Zones;
- Relationship to street trees; and
- Maintenance and repair.
Sign Standards outline additional requirements for Accessory On-Premise Signs and Temporary Signs. Temporary on-premise signs also have additional standards related to special promotions, event, and grand opening signs. The Accessory On-Premise Sign Standards include:
- Awning signs;
- Canopy and marquee signs;
- Freestanding signs;
- Directional signs;
- Electronic message displays (EMD);
- Portable signs;
- Projecting signs; and
- Wall signs.
Alternative Sign Plan
The Alternative Sign Plan Standards are guidelines for multi-tenant nonresidential developments where signage design becomes much more complex, including but not limited to:
- Hospital complexes on sites of two acres or larger;
- Office centers with multiple buildings on sites of two acres or larger;
- Industrial parks with multiple buildings on sites of five acres or larger; and
- Single, multi-tenant buildings on sites of two acres or larger.
In these cases, an Alternative Sign Plan must be created before any signs are placed to establish specific criteria and standards specific to that property.
When signage is needed off-site because of excessive distance from a public street, lack of street frontage, unusual topography, or other special circumstances, an off-premise sign may be allowed with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).
Billboards (poster panel and bulletin panel) are also considered Off-Premise Signs. Applications for a billboard must also include a demolition permit for the existing billboard. The number of billboard signs in the city will not be increased except through annexation, and billboards are only allowed in MX-2, MX-3, I-1, and I-2 zoning districts and only after the approval of a Conditional Use Permit where allowed. Additional approval and design and location requirements apply for billboards.
Special Sign Districts
In addition to the other sign regulations, additional special standards apply in the Capital Boulevard Special Design District. In this district, signs require a site plan, Design Review approval, and Planning and Zoning Commission approval on any requests for Variances or Conditional Use Permits (CUP). Additional general standards also apply.
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