Chapter 14.08
SIGN REGULATIONS

Sections:

14.08.005    Purpose.

14.08.010    Signs prohibited.

14.08.020    Signs not requiring permits.

14.08.030    Lighting.

14.08.040    Maintenance.

14.08.050    Sign setback requirements.

14.08.060    Political signs.

14.08.070    Signs permitted in residential districts.

14.08.080    Signs permitted in commercial, industrial, airport, agricultural and fairgrounds districts.

14.08.090    Signs permitted in public use districts.

14.08.100    Signs permitted in planned unit developments.

14.08.110    Anchoring.

14.08.120    Additional safety information.

14.08.130    Legal nonconforming signs.

14.08.140    Loss of legal nonconforming status.

14.08.150    Permits required.

14.08.160    Fees.

14.08.170    Appeals – Generally.

14.08.180    Appeal notice and hearing before commission.

14.08.190    Appeal notice and hearing before council.

14.08.200    Record of appeal from commission.

14.08.210    Written statements.

14.08.220    Appeal to superior court.

14.08.230    Enforcement authority.

14.08.240    Remedies and civil penalties.

14.08.250    Severability.

14.08.005 Purpose.

It is the intent of this chapter to establish a framework of comprehensive sign standards for Palmer that reflect the community decision to preserve and enhance the natural, scenic environment of Palmer; promote the health, safety and welfare of the community; protect property values; allow flexibility, encouraging variety and good design; recognize the importance of appropriate signage for Palmer’s economic vitality; and allow adequate avenues for both commercial and noncommercial messages, recognizing free speech by regulating signs in a content-neutral manner. It is the purpose of this chapter to authorize the use of signs that:

A. Promote and accomplish the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan;

B. Facilitate economic development through the identification of businesses and organizations in the community;

C. Are aesthetically pleasing and of appropriate scale, are integrated with surrounding buildings and landscape in order to meet the community’s expressed desire for quality development, and which protect prominent viewsheds;

D. Promote the free flow of traffic and protect pedestrians and motorists from injury through well-designed signs that are unlikely to distract drivers to a dangerous degree;

E. Prevent property damage, personal injury, and litter from signs which are improperly constructed, poorly maintained, or made of nondurable materials. (Ord. 18-005 § 12, 2018)

14.08.010 Signs prohibited.

The following types of signs are prohibited in all zoning districts:

A. Abandoned signs;

B. Signs that imitate, resemble or obstruct the view of traffic or government signs and signals;

C. Signs attached to trees, utility poles, public benches, street lights, or signs placed on any public property or public way except government signs;

D. Signs placed on vehicles or trailers which, as parked or located, are designed primarily to display said sign. (This does not apply to signs or lettering on buses, taxis, or vehicles operating during the normal course of business.);

E. Off-premises signs except government signs;

F. Portable signs including portable changeable copy signs;

G. Automatic changeable copy signs, animated or flashing signs except as permitted in this chapter;

H. Audio signs, except where they are an audio menu sign for a drive-through;

I. Signs which cause interference with radio, television or telephone reception;

J. Any sign not complying with requirements of applicable ordinances or regulations or visibility of traffic at access points for vehicles;

K. Any sign not authorized by this chapter or any sign permitted by this chapter for which a permit has not been obtained;

L. Any sign using reflectors, mirrors, or other devices intended to focus or direct illumination from the sign to any other place;

M. Signs exceeding a maximum height of 20 feet. (Ord. 18-005 § 13, 2018; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.020 Signs not requiring permits.

The following types of signs are exempted from permit applications but must be in conformance with all other requirements of this title:

A. Construction signs of 32 square feet or less. Such signs may be erected seven days prior to construction and shall be removed within 14 days of beneficial occupancy;

B. Directional information signs of six square feet or less;

C. Holiday or special event decorations, pennants or festoons;

D. Nameplates not exceeding four square feet;

E. A sign relating to a temporary hazard to traffic;

F. Real estate signs not exceeding four square feet in residential zoning districts or 32 square feet elsewhere. Such signs shall be removed 14 days following sale, rental or lease;

G. One temporary yard sign not to exceed four square feet in sign area. Such signs shall not be displayed more than four days per sale. Erection of such temporary signs shall be limited in frequency to twice per year per premises;

H. Window signs otherwise conforming to this title;

I. Noncommercial mural;

J. Governmental signs;

K. Signs on vehicles;

L. Audio menu signs. (Ord. 18-005 § 14, 2018; Ord. 12-016 § 4, 2012; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.030 Lighting.

A. Signs in all zoning districts shall be arranged so that no light or glare is directed or reflected to adjoining lots and streets or into residential windows. Dark backgrounds shall be used where feasible to reduce glare.

B. The following lights are permitted:

1. Internal illumination;

2. Halo;

3. Area;

4. Direct;

5. Exposed neon.

C. The following lights are prohibited:

1. An exposed electric lamp with an external reflector and without a light screen or comparable diffusion;

2. An exposed electric lamp in excess of 20 watts unless a screen is attached;

3. Any revolving beacon or beam;

4. Any flashing illumination;

5. Any illuminated sign in a residential zoning district except as permitted in this chapter. (Ord. 18-005 § 15, 2018; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.040 Maintenance.

All signs shall be properly maintained. Exposed surfaces shall be clean and painted if paint is required. Defective parts shall be replaced. The building official or his designee shall have the right to order the repair or removal of any sign which is defective, damaged or substantially deteriorated. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.050 Sign setback requirements.

A. The base of structural members supporting freestanding signs shall be set back at least three feet from any public way. Setback requirements have been modified for some sign types and zoning districts by other sections of this chapter.

B. No part of any sign other than a government sign shall encroach into a public way except as permitted in this chapter.

C. Lots on the corner must comply with the clear sight triangle requirements. (Ord. 18-005 § 16, 2018; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.060 Political signs.

Political signs are allowed in all districts, subject to the following regulations:

A. Political signs which do not exceed four feet by eight feet will be permitted for the period commencing no sooner than five months before a national, state or local election and ending not later than 15 days after that election, except that signs advocating candidates defeated in a primary election are to be removed 15 days after the primary election in which the candidate was defeated.

B. In single-family and suburban estate residential zoning districts, each political sign shall not exceed four square feet in area with the aggregate area of all signs on each lot not to exceed 32 square feet.

C. Political signs are to comply with other applicable regulations of this chapter.

D. Before any political sign is installed, a permit must be issued by the building official. A permit is good for one or more political signs. No permit shall be issued unless the applicant submits the signed guarantee of a property owner within the city that all of the applicant’s political signs shall be removed within 15 days after the election. The building official may, upon seven days’ written notice, go upon the property where the offending sign exists and remove the sign and bill the guarantor for the cost of removal. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.070 Signs permitted in residential districts.

The following signs are allowed in the single-family residential, single-family residential estate, medium density residential and agricultural zoning districts:

A. All types of signs authorized by and conforming to the regulations of PMC 14.08.020 or 14.08.060;

B. One freestanding or wall sign as a subdivision identification sign per neighborhood, subdivision or development, not to exceed 10 feet in height and 32 square feet in sign area. The sign shall be located at least 10 feet from a public way or property line. Illuminated signs except internally illuminated are permitted;

C. For churches and synagogues, one freestanding sign not to exceed 10 feet in height and 32 square feet in sign area and one wall sign not to exceed 15 square feet in sign area. The signs shall be located at least 10 feet from a public way or property line. Illuminated signs except internally illuminated are permitted;

D. For lawful home occupations, either one nameplate or one wall sign not to exceed four square feet in area;

E. Setback requirements do not apply to yard signs, real estate signs or political signs; however, the signs may not encroach on a public way or property;

F. Signs shall not exceed 10 feet in height. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.080 Signs permitted in commercial, industrial, airport, agricultural and fairgrounds districts.

The following signs are allowed in commercial, industrial, airport, agricultural and fairgrounds districts:

A. All types of signs authorized by and conforming to the requirements of PMC 14.08.020 and 14.08.060;

B. One freestanding sign per premises; where an occupancy is on a corner, or has more than one street frontage, additional signs will be allowed on the additional frontage, but not to exceed two freestanding signs per premises;

C. One wall sign per occupancy; where an occupancy is on a corner, or has more than one street frontage, additional signs will be allowed on the additional frontage, but not to exceed the total number of street frontages;

D. One awning sign per occupancy, not to exceed 35 percent of the surface area of the awning;

E. One marquee sign per occupancy, not to exceed two square feet in sign area for each linear foot of marquee front and side;

F. One under-canopy sign per occupancy. No part of any under-canopy sign shall be less than seven feet above an adjacent walkway or parking area;

G. One projecting sign per occupancy with direct access to the building exterior. For occupancy frontages of 20 feet or more, the sign may project a maximum of six feet with a maximum height of four feet. For occupancy frontages of less than 20 feet, the sign may project a maximum of six feet with a maximum height of four feet and a total area less than 17 square feet. All signs are to have a minimum of 10 feet of clearance. Projecting signs will not be allowed in any part of a public way used by motor vehicles;

H. Changeable Copy Signs.

1. Manual changeable;

2. Animated.

a. A sign whose alphabetic, pictographic, or symbolic informational content can be changed or altered on a fixed display screen composed of electronically illuminated segments;

b. A sign with action, motion, or an illusion of either, or changing colors which require either electrical, solar or wind powered energy;

c. A sign with automatic changing copy, flashing copy or lights, revolving signs, and signs with stroboscopic lights, intermittent lights, beacons or any other type or style of lights; and

d. Electronic display screens, electronic message centers, and billboards/off-premises signs with digital technologies;

I. Banners.

1. Banners are limited to no more than 10 percent of the front wall area;

2. Banners may not be used as permanent signage;

3. Banners are limited to two 30-day placements per calendar year and no more than two banners may be displayed on any exterior building surface during this 30-day period;

4. Temporary banners for events or activities sponsored by nonprofit organizations may be authorized for an additional 30 cumulative days in any one calendar year;

5. Temporary Seasonal Sales. A nonrenewable five-week temporary banner permit may be issued for seasonal and holiday related sales;

6. Notwithstanding any section of the Palmer Municipal Code, the owner or person in possession of a banner in violation of this title shall remove the banner upon order of the city. For purposes of this section, any portion of any day in which a banner is displayed shall be counted as one full day;

J. A-frame, sandwich and upright signs must be located on-premises and are temporary in nature. (Ord. 18-005 § 17, 2018; Ord. 12-016 § 5, 2012; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.090 Signs permitted in public use districts.

The following signs are allowed in public use zoning districts:

A. All types of signs authorized by and conforming to the regulations of PMC 14.08.020 and 14.08.060;

B. Any sign as allowed in this chapter for the zoning district that is adjacent to a particular side of the public use district. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.100 Signs permitted in planned unit developments.

Signs in planned unit developments, as such uses are defined in the Palmer special land use district, will be standardized and the size, height and number of signs in the development will be negotiated as a part of the development contract in general conformity with the standards of this chapter. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.110 Anchoring.

A. No sign shall be suspended by nonrigid attachments allowing the sign to swing in the wind.

B. All freestanding signs shall have self-supporting structures erected on or permanently attached to concrete foundations.

C. All temporary signs or displays shall be braced or secured to prevent motion. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.120 Additional safety information.

A. No sign shall be erected, constructed or maintained so as to obstruct any fire escape, required exit, window or door opening used as a means of egress.

B. No sign shall be attached in any form, shape or manner which will interfere with any opening required for ventilation.

C. Signs shall be located in such a way as to comply with applicable federal, state and city safety standards. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.130 Legal nonconforming signs.

Existing signs which do not conform to the specific provisions of this chapter may be eligible for the designation of “legal nonconforming”; provided, that:

A. Such signs are properly maintained and do not in any way endanger the public;

B. The sign was covered by a valid permit or variance or complied with all applicable laws on the date of adoption of this chapter. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.140 Loss of legal nonconforming status.

A nonconforming sign shall lose its nonconforming status after:

A. The sign is relocated; or

B. The sign suffers damage or deterioration to the extent of 50 percent of the replacement value of the sign; or

C. The structure or size of the sign is altered in any way except towards compliance with this chapter. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.150 Permits required.

A. Unless otherwise provided by this title, all signs shall require permits and payment of fees. No permit is required for the maintenance of a sign or for a change of copy on painted, printed or changeable copy signs.

B. To facilitate the issuance of permits, all applications shall include:

1. An accurate sketch or plan of the proposed sign, showing the dimensions and layout with colors and lettering, method of construction, structural supports, lighting and other pertinent information;

2. A sketch or photograph to identify the proposed location of the sign, sufficiently detailed to indicate the building, existing signs in the immediate area, traffic signals and signs, and lot lines if required;

3. Name and address of the owner of the sign;

4. Street address or location of the property on which the sign is to be located, along with the name and address of the property owner;

5. The type of sign or sign structure as defined by this chapter;

6. For signs any part of which extends into a public way, proof of insurance coverage of $300,000 combined single limit (CSL) minimum with the city named as an additional insured. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.160 Fees.

All applications for permits, variances or appeals shall be accompanied by a payment of the fee for each sign according to the current, adopted budget. (Ord. 07-029 § 28, 2007; Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.170 Appeals – Generally.

A. Appeals – Standing. Any person or persons aggrieved by an action or determination taken under this chapter may appeal said action or determination.

B. Jurisdiction. Appeals of actions and determinations of the building official are heard by the planning and zoning advisory commission. Appeals of said actions and determinations of the commission are heard by the city council. Appeals of the actions of the council are heard by the superior court.

C. Time Limitation. An appeal of a decision of the building official, of the commission or of the city council must be filed within 30 days of the action or determination being appealed. Computation of the time period for filing an appeal shall commence with the date on which the action or determination is mailed or delivered to the parties involved. Any decision not appealed within these time limits shall become final.

D. Applications. The application for each appeal shall be filed with the city clerk, be in writing and contain at least the following information:

1. The name and address of the appellant;

2. A description of the action or determination from which the appeal is sought; and

3. The reason for the appeal which must show a grievance to the applicant.

E. Filing Fee. Each application appealing actions and determinations of the building official or the commission shall be accompanied by a filing fee as in PMC 14.08.160. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.180 Appeal notice and hearing before commission.

A. Upon receipt of a valid application appealing an action or determination of the building official, the city clerk shall schedule an appeal hearing before the commission to be held within 45 days. All parties to the action or determination being appealed shall be provided with written notice not less than 15 days prior to the appeal hearing.

B. At the hearing the order of presentation is as follows:

1. The building official shall summarize the issues and state his/her decision;

2. The applicant shall present his/her evidence, including witnesses and documents;

3. The building official shall present his/her evidence, including witnesses and documents;

4. The applicant may close his/her presentation;

5. The building official may close his/her presentation.

C. The commission, the applicants and the administration may question any witness. Any person may be represented by counsel. The applicant must prove the facts by a preponderance of the evidence. All hearings shall be tape-recorded. Formal rules of evidence need not be followed.

D. A hearing, and any reconvening thereof, shall be open to the public.

E. Within 15 days following the hearing, the commission shall issue its decision in the form of written findings of fact and conclusions of law.

F. The findings of fact and conclusions of law shall reference specific evidence in the record and the controlling sections of this chapter and shall briefly explain the reasons for the decision. The commission may affirm, modify, vacate, set aside or reverse any decision brought before it for review, and may remand the case and direct the entry of such appropriate order, or require further proceedings to be had as may be justified under the circumstances.

G. The findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be signed by the presiding officer and filed with the clerk, who shall promptly mail a copy to the appellant. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.190 Appeal notice and hearing before council.

A. Upon receipt of a valid application appealing an action or determination of the commission, the city clerk shall schedule an appeal hearing before the council to be held within 45 days. All parties to the action or determination being appealed shall be provided with written notice not less than 30 days prior to the appeal hearing.

B. An appeal hearing conducted by the council shall be on the basis of the record established before the commission and the record on appeal. The council may allow for oral presentations by the applicant and the administration. A time limit may be established for said presentations.

C. No new evidence shall be received or considered by the council hearing an appeal. Upon a showing of good cause, the council may remand the matter to the commission to receive and consider new evidence.

D. The hearing, and any reconvening thereof, shall be open to the public.

E. Within 15 days following the hearing, the council shall issue its decision in the form of written findings of fact and conclusions of law.

F. The findings of fact and conclusions of law shall reference specific evidence in the record and the controlling sections of this chapter and shall briefly explain the reasons for the decision. The council may affirm, modify, vacate, set aside or reverse any decision brought before it for review, and may remand the case and direct the entry of such appropriate order, or require further proceedings to be had as may be just under the circumstances.

G. Upon express vote, the council may adopt as its statement of findings and conclusions those findings and conclusions officially adopted by the commission.

H. The findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be signed by the mayor and filed with the clerk, who shall promptly mail a copy to the appellant. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.200 Record of appeal from commission.

A. Upon receipt of a valid application appealing a decision of the commission, the record of appeal shall be prepared by the city clerk and provided to the council not less than five days prior to the hearing before the council, and shall consist of the following:

1. A verbatim transcript of the prior proceedings from which the appeal has been taken;

2. Copies of all memoranda, exhibits, correspondence, recommendations, analyses, maps, drawings, pictures, videos and other documents or exhibits submitted prior to the decision from which the appeal is taken;

3. A copy of all prior written actions, determinations and decisions, including findings and conclusions;

4. A list of the names and addresses of all persons appearing as witnesses at prior hearings; and

5. Any written statements filed pursuant to PMC 14.08.210.

B. The record of appeal shall be made available for public inspection in the city clerk’s office not less than five days prior to the hearing date. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.210 Written statements.

A. An appellant may file a written statement summarizing the facts and setting forth pertinent points and authorities in support of the points contained in the notice of appeal, provided such statement must be filed not less than 12 days prior to the date set for the appeal hearing.

B. Any interested party wishing to file a written statement in rebuttal to the appeal may do so, provided such statement must be filed not less than six days prior to the appeal hearing date. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.220 Appeal to superior court.

An appeal from the council may be taken by any person to the superior court as provided by law. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.230 Enforcement authority.

This title shall be enforced by the building official. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.240 Remedies and civil penalties.

The city or an aggrieved person may institute a civil action against a person who violates a provision of this title or a term, condition or limitation imposed pursuant to this title. In addition to other relief, a civil penalty not to exceed $300.00 may be imposed for each violation. Each day that a violation or an unlawful act or condition continues constitutes a separate violation. An action to enjoin a violation may be brought notwithstanding the availability of any other remedy. Upon application for injunctive relief and a finding of a violation or threatened violation, the superior court shall grant the injunction. (Ord. 466 § 3, 1994)

14.08.250 Severability.

If any provision, clause, sentence or paragraph of this chapter or its application to any person or circumstances shall be held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect the other provisions of this chapter, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable. (Ord. 18-005 § 18, 2018)