- Published on Sunday, 21 October 2012 14:14
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The Colonial Beach Planning Commission has reviewed proposed changes to the town’s sign ordinance in Article 12 of the building and zoning regulations. A public hearing on the matter is set for Nov 1. The proposed changes came about after several complaints were filed against various business owners for electronic/digital signs, neon signs and waving banners. Affected businesses added other signage to match other businesses creating what some residents referred to as the “sign wars”.
The Commission appointed a board to revise the sign ordinances and make them simpler to use as well as conform to State law.
In the new ordinance vertical flag signs are not permitted at shopping centers, the setback distance shall be a minimum of ten feet from the property line and the maximum aggregate sign area of all permitted sign types on a single property are limited to 75 feet. Properties with more than one business will be allowed these maximums for each business.
Changeable copy signs or electronic/digital signs must follow these conditions: any primary freestanding sign may have up to fifty percent of the its sign area as a traditional changeable copy. Secondary freestanding signs may have all of its area as traditional changeable copy and digital changeable copy incorporated into a monument sign is only permissible with a conditional use permit (CUP).
The ordinance states that no flashing or intermittent illumination shall be used on any sign or structure. This restriction is currently in the sign ordinance. Some businesses have expressed a desire to have these types of sign but the new proposed ordinance does not permit them.
The following is only a brief description of proposed changes and should not be considered a complete list. Interested and affected parties should consult the draft article for a complete list of permitted and prohibited signage being proposed.
Changes in administration or enforcement give the power to enforce the sign ordinance to the planning director, Gary Mitchell or his designee. It also gives the planning director the authority to cause the immediate removal of signs which are not constructed and maintained in accordance with the provision of Article 12 or in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC).
Signs deemed unsafe or to be an imminent threat of serious injury to property or persons may be removed by the authority of the planning director and the property owner shall bear the cost of removal.
The new sign permit calls for a strict application process requiring plans be submitted with all dimensions, measurements, placement and materials to be used. Once a permit is issued, if the sign is not installed within six months, a renewal fee may be required to keep the permit valid for another six months.
A list of signs exempt from requiring a permit is included but many of them are either out of sight of the public or are not pertaining to business related advertising.
Real Estate and Contractors signs are permitted without a permit but have new restrictions.
Temporary signs that need a permit include mostly banner type signs. Strict regulations on these types of signs are included in Article 12 and are subject to a zoning permit fee.
No more than one temporary sign or banner is permitted on each property unless the property has more than one business, in which case only one sign per business is permitted.
Permitted temporary signs or banners may be erected for no more than 30 consecutive days and no establishment or use may erect more than six temporary signs or banners in a calender year. These signs may not be located any closer than 10 feet from any public rights of way (streets).
Prohibited signs include but are not limited to, signs that flutter, rotate, or otherwise move for the purpose of attracting attention, or those which produce sound, odor, liquid or visible matter such as smoke or vapor.
The Article gives written directions, charts and graphs to help determine how to calculate dimensions as wells as permitted placement of signs. The ordinance also outlines required landscaping for signs as well as, prohibited and permissible pruning of trees and shrubs near signs.
The ordinance does allow existing non conforming signs to be grandfathered in, but alterations, movement, replacement or destruction by any means will not allow replacement of non conforming signs.
Finally, signs advertising a business or use that have been discontinued for a period of at least two years, shell be deemed abandoned or obsolete and will be required to be brought into conformity with the ordinance or removed in their entirety.
The planning commission has set a public hearing on the matter for Nov. 1 at 5:30 during the regular planning commission meeting. All citizens are urged to attend, particularly business owners and event planners.