Chapter 18.35


18.35.010    Purpose and intent.

18.35.030    Definitions.

18.35.040    Exempt signs.

18.35.050    Sign area.

18.35.060    Permitted sign types.

18.35.070    Prohibited signs.

18.35.080    Existing signs.

18.35.090    Permit – Required – Application.

18.35.100    Surety required.

18.35.110    Permit – Review of application.

18.35.120    Permit – Fee schedule.

18.35.130    Permit – Expiration.

18.35.140    Exception to permit requirement.

18.35.150    Permit – Denial – Notice.

18.35.160    Variance procedure.

18.35.165    Enforcement.

18.35.170    Conflicting provisions.

18.35.180    Violation – Penalty.

18.35.010 Purpose and intent.

A. The purpose of this chapter is to preserve and maintain the small-town quality and the unique historic character of the city. It is to promote and protect the public welfare, health, safety and aesthetics by regulating existing and proposed signs.

B. Sign design shall be a creative response to the location on which it is to be placed. It shall consider:

1. Scale compatibility and visual appropriateness with both the natural beauty of the environment and the unique building-scape of the city;

2. Symbolic appropriateness with the activity to which it pertains;

3. Expressive identity of individual proprietors, yet never violating the visual character of the surroundings in which it is to be placed;

4. Legibility at the distance and pace (speed) at which it is to be seen;

5. Undue blocking of public view from the public right-of-way;

6. Reduction of distractions contributing to traffic confusion or accidents. (Ord. 465 § 1, 1985)

18.35.030 Definitions.

Except where specifically defined in this section, all words used in this chapter shall carry their customary meanings. Words used in the present tense include the future, and the plural includes the singular. The word “shall” is mandatory; the word “may” denotes a use of discretion in making a decision; the words “used” or “occupied” shall be considered as though followed by the words “or intended, maintained, arranged or designed to be used or occupied.”

“Banner” means a piece of manmade or natural cloth or fabric displaying a distinctive noncommercial design, attached by one or more edges to a pole or staff or other device intended for such display.

“Billboards” means outdoor advertising signs containing a message, commercial or otherwise, unrelated to any use or activity of the property on which the sign is located. A directional or locator sign shall not be considered a billboard.

“Directional or locator sign” means a sign erected on public property or of a public or quasi-public nature containing a map, directions and other information intended to direct pedestrians to services, businesses and public facilities.

“Display surface” means that part of a sign structure used to display an integrated advertising message.

“Marquee” means a permanent covering structure projecting horizontally from and attached to a building, affording protection from the elements, including, but not limited to, cloth awnings and mansard roofs.

“Pedestrian sign” means a small sign designed to identify a business to a pedestrian and indicate the location of the entrance.

“Person” means any individual, corporation, association, firm, partnership, business, singular or plural.

“Projection sign” means any sign other than a wall sign which extends more than 12 inches from the facade of the building to which it is attached.

“Roof sign” means any sign erected upon, against or directly above a roof or on top of or above the parapet of a building.

“Rotation sign” means any sign which rotates on a fixed axis.

“Sign” means any letters, figures, design, symbol, trademark or device intended to attract attention to any activity, service, place, subject, person, firm, corporation, public performance, article, machine or merchandise and including display surfaces and supporting structures thereof.

“Street” means a public right-of-way which affords a primary means of access to abutting property.

“Street frontage” means the side of a building facing the street.

“Surface area” or “facade” means the area of that continuous exterior front, side or back surface of a building, including doors and windows, but excluding any roof area.

“Temporary sign” means a sign constructed of cloth, canvas, cardboard, wallboard or other light material, intended to be displayed for a limited period of time.

“Wall sign” means any sign attached to and supported by the wall of a building or the wall of a structure, with the exposed face of the sign in a plane parallel to the plane of the wall.

“Window sign” means any sign located inside and affixed to or within one foot of the window panes of a building, whether temporary or permanent. (Ord. 846, 2004; Ord. 788, 2000; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.040 Exempt signs.

The following signs are exempt under this chapter:

A. Signs required by law, including, but not limited to, official traffic signs, directional signs, signals, public notices, court and sheriff notices, all of which are erected by public authorities;

B. Informational services signs, including, but not limited to, “Customer Parking,” “Driveway Entrance” and “Exit,” not to exceed three square feet;

C. Signs identifying public conveniences, including, but not limited to, restrooms, telephones, bus stops and taxicab stands, not to exceed three feet;

D. Information warning signs, including, but not limited to, “No Trespassing,” “No Dumping” and “No Parking,” not to exceed three feet;

E. Building address identification number limited to six inches in height;

F. Temporary political signs and signs displayed in windows of party political headquarters, not to exceed four square feet; provided they are removed within 14 days after the election;

G. Temporary decorations customarily displayed at special holidays, such as Christmas and Independence Day; provided they are removed within 14 days after the holiday;

H. One temporary real estate sign for each street frontage located on the premises for sale, lease or rent, not exceeding four square feet; provided, that it is removed 14 days after the sale, lease or rent of the premises;

I. One temporary sign for each street frontage denoting the architect, engineer or contractor, or future business under construction, not to exceed 16 square feet; provided, it is removed 14 days after completion of construction;

J. Any sign located within a building not visible from the street or sidewalk;

K. Flags of government or noncommercial institutions such as schools;

L. Sandwich board signs worn by a person while walking the public ways of the city;

M. Window signs, where such signs are temporary and not a window graphic;

N. Signs in the interior of a building more than one foot from the closest window or not facing a window;

O. Signs or plaques denoting historical structures or sites designated on municipal, county, state or federal historic registers. (Ord. 834, 2003; Ord. 788, 2000; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.050 Sign area.

A. 1. The total sign area for any single enterprise may be up to 20 square feet, subject to review and recommendation by the design advisory board, taking into consideration the criteria set forth in Section 18.35.010.

2. For public institutional buildings and churches over 5,000 square feet in size, the total sign area for both building identification and announcement of events shall not exceed 70 square feet; provided, that the total allowable sign area for identification shall not exceed 38 square feet and the sign area for announcement of events shall not exceed 32 square feet. Individual signs containing both a message and identification shall not exceed 50 square feet on all sides and individual signs not containing a message shall not exceed 20 square feet. These signs and sign areas are subject to the same review requirements set forth in subsection (A)(1) of this section.

B. If a sign is a painted wall sign, only the total area of the letters or symbols themselves need be assessed against the allowable sign area, but if the background contrasts strongly with the wall it is painted on and is thus construed to be part of the architecture, the area measured is the smallest circle, triangle or quadrangle that can be drawn around all parts of the visible area.

C. Visible structures designed to be a part of the sign display shall be included in the sign area calculation.

D. The total area of a double-sided sign shall not exceed 20 square feet in area on each side. (Ord. 1004 § 4 (Exh. E), 2014; Ord. 846, 2004; Ord. 788, 2000; Ord. 729, 1996; Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.060 Permitted sign types.

A. Freestanding Signs. Signs supported by uprights extending from the ground, not attached to a building. Height of freestanding signs shall not exceed nine feet and freestanding signs shall not exceed 20 square feet in area each side, including support structure. The height of freestanding signs is measured from the grade at the edge of the right-of-way to the top of the sign. If unusual topography, architectural or landscape elements, building setting or road curvature merit special considerations, an exemption may be considered.

Freestanding signs 42 inches or less in height may be located in the street setback a minimum of five feet from the property line or edge of improvements. Signs exceeding 42 inches in height shall set back one additional foot for every foot over 42 inches. Freestanding signs shall not block visibility from driveways, accesses or at street intersections.

B. Joint Freestanding Signs. Signs supported by uprights extending from the ground, not attached to a building shared by more than one enterprise. The total area of any joint freestanding signs shall not exceed 28 square feet in area each side including support structure.

1. Each enterprise is entitled to an equal share of the sign space including the building name.

2. If more than one freestanding sign is used, it shall be similar or the same in design.

C. Building Surface Signs. Signs that are attached parallel to or painted directly on a wall surface of a building.

1. If an applicant demonstrates that a wall sign is an integral part of the architecture and constitutes a “super graphic,” the planning official, following a recommendation from the design advisory board, may waive the size restrictions.

2. A wall sign shall not project more than nine inches parallel to the face of the wall.

D. Projecting Signs. Signs that extend outwardly from a building wall plane.

1. No sign shall extend into or over a public right-of-way unless written permission has been granted by the director of public works and a hold harmless agreement has been provided to the city.

2. Projecting signs may be displayed by any establishment, not to exceed six square feet in size for a single face.

3. Projecting signs shall clear the sidewalk by seven and one-half feet, and projecting signs shall not be lower than seven and one-half feet from the ground, and shall not extend more than six feet from the building, or one-half the width of the public sidewalk, whichever is less.

E. Window Signs. Window graphics may not occupy more than 25 percent of the total area of the window in which they are displayed.

F. Directional or Locator Signs. Directional or locator signs may be erected by a public or civic body, may be freestanding or wall mounted, and shall not exceed 28 square feet in area.

G. Auxiliary Design Elements. Elements such as illumination of all types, movement, banners, awnings, canopies, marquees, window graphics and sidewalk displays.

1. Illumination.

a. Bare Bulb Illumination. The use of bare bulbs is restricted to establishments which would normally be associated with this light source, such as eating and drinking places, amusements and recreation. Wattage and bulb type shall be determined at time of review.

b. Flashing and Moving Light. No flashing and moving lights are allowed except when out of view of all streets, parking lots and views from properties uphill as a part of a planned atmosphere appropriate to a group of enterprises.

c. Indirect Illumination. An indirectly illuminated graphic is one which is lighted externally and directed towards the graphic or sign in such a manner that none of the light glares or shines onto a neighboring property or into the eyes of motorists and pedestrians. Indirect illumination is permitted in the commercial zones and for institutional or nonprofit organizations and residential developments with five or more housing units.

d. Neon Tube Illumination. A neon graphic is one with a light source supplied by a neon tube which is bent to form letters, symbols or other shapes and is permitted to all establishments in a commercial area.

2. Special Features. Special features referred to here (banners, awnings, canopies, etc.) are essentially pedestrian-oriented and will most frequently be used in conjunction with some other type of street sign.

a. Awnings and canopies may be used by all types of establishments. Only individual cutout letters and/or symbols may be attached to painted stencils or otherwise placed on these devices; all other types of graphic treatment are prohibited;

b. Marquees;

c. Moving signs, except wind-powered signs, are not allowed except in those cases that the proprietor can demonstrate that such a sign would be more appropriate to the business;

d. Banners, pennants, flyers, ribbons or other fluttering devices may be permitted following a recommendation from the design advisory board;

e. Sidewalk Showcases and Kiosks. These may be used with special permission of the city following a recommendation from the design advisory board provided written permission has been granted by the director of public works and a hold harmless agreement has been furnished to the city.

H. Temporary Signs. Temporary signs may be approved by the planning official, subject to the following criteria:

1. The maximum sign size is 20 square feet except for public institutional buildings and churches over 5,000 square feet which may be allowed a maximum 36 square feet and subject to the specific circumstances, including the relationship of the sign to the surface area/structure to which it is mounted, the scale of the structure, etc.

2. The maximum length of time for display shall be 30 days per calendar year except for public institutional or church uses each sign may be displayed for a maximum of 10 days and the total number of days allowed for all temporary signs is 60 days per calendar year.

3. No more than one temporary sign per property/use may be allowed at a time.

4. A cash deposit may be required to ensure compliance with the time limitations. (Ord. 1004 § 4 (Exh. E), 2014; Ord. 846, 2004; Ord. 834, 2003; Ord. 788, 2000; Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.070 Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited:

A. All roof-mounted signs, directly on the roof surface;

B. Billboards;

C. Temporary signs attached to, located on or resting against a motor vehicle or trailer for the purpose of advertisement or directing people to a business;

D. All signs which resemble legal traffic signs;

E. All signs which have no permanent attachment to a building or the ground, including, but not limited to, pole attachments, mobile signs and sandwich board or “A” board signs except for temporary real estate signs as provided in Section 18.35.040(H);

F. Abandoned Signs. A sign which is located on property which becomes vacant or unoccupied for a period of 90 days or more, or which was erected for an occupant or business other than the present occupant or business, or contains content which pertains to a time, event or purpose which no longer pertains, is an abandoned sign. If the sign does not conform to the criteria described in this guideline and/or unrelated to the present occupant or business, it must be removed by the property owner;

G. Signs on Public Property. All signs on public property that are not approved for such location by the city are prohibited. Approved signs are subject to compliance with all provisions of this chapter;

H. Internally illuminated signs and digital image signs. (Ord. 846, 2004; Ord. 834, 2003; Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.080 Existing signs.

A. This chapter shall not apply to permanent signs in place on or before the date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, unless the user of the sign wishes to change the shape, dimensions or content of the sign. In that case, the sign must comply with the applicable sections of this chapter. It shall not be deemed a change in content of a sign if the change is merely changing the message that may appear on the changeable portion of a reader-board-type sign.

B. All signs, preexisting the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter or otherwise, must be kept in good repair, be well maintained, and not a safety hazard to the members of this community.

C. This section shall cease to apply to a preexisting sign if the business or other entity that the sign advertises ceased to do business in the same location for more than 90 days. After that time, any preexisting sign must meet all applicable standards of this chapter. (Ord. 834, 2003; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.090 Permit – Required – Application.

A permit shall be obtained for each sign erected within the city limits, excepting those signs which are exempted by this chapter. Each permit application shall be filed with the city land use coordinator by the property owner, lessee, contract purchaser or other persons entitled to possession of the property, or by an authorized agent, on a form provided by the city, and shall contain and include the following:

A. Building name and location;

B. Building owner and lessee, sign owner and sign lessee, name of business, primary product and/or service;

C. Location of existing and proposed signs;

D. Description of signs, including dimensions, materials and copy material;

E. Required fee;

F. Name, address and telephone number of sign installer. (Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.100 Surety required.

The city may require, as a condition to the granting of a permit, that the applicant furnish a surety approved by the city to secure the applicant’s obligation to adhere to the sign guidelines. (Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.110 Permit – Review of application.

All sign permit applications shall be reviewed by the design advisory board. The design advisory board shall make a recommendation to the planning official following review of each application. (Ord. 1004 § 4 (Exh. E), 2014; Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.120 Permit – Fee schedule.

A permit fee in an amount as shall from time to time be set by the city council by resolution shall be paid to the city clerk-treasurer at the time of permit application. (Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.130 Permit – Expiration.

A sign permit shall become null and void if the work for which the permit was issued has not been completed within 90 days of its issuance. (Ord. 704, 1995; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.140 Exception to permit requirement.

No permit shall be required:

A. For repainting, cleaning or other normal maintenance or repair of a sign for which a permit has previously been issued, so long as the sign structure or content is not modified in any way;

B. For the changing of the advertising copy or message on an approved reader-board or theater marquee. (Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.150 Permit – Denial – Notice.

When a sign permit is denied, written notice of denial shall be given to the applicant along with a brief written statement of the reasons for the denial. (Ord. 1004 § 4 (Exh. E), 2014; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.160 Variance procedure.

A. Special Circumstances Required. A variance from the requirements of this chapter can be considered by the hearing examiner when special circumstances applicable to a specific piece of property exist and it is considered necessary to provide a means to modify the regulations contained in this chapter as they might apply to a particular property. Modifications to the regulations in this chapter are permitted only after obtaining a variance.

B. Criteria for Granting a Variance. The applicant shall demonstrate to the hearing examiner’s satisfaction that:

1. The literal interpretation and strict application of the provisions and requirements of this chapter would cause undue and unnecessary hardship to the applicant because of unique or unusual conditions pertaining to the specific building or parcel of property in question;

2. The granting of the requested variance would not be materially detrimental to the property owners in the vicinity;

3. The unusual conditions applying to the specific property do not apply generally to other properties in the city;

4. The granting of the variance will not be contrary to the general objectives of this chapter of moderating the size, number and obtrusive placement of signs;

5. The special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant;

6. The variance is the minimum that will make possible the reasonable use of the property.

C. Application Procedures. The application procedure for a sign variance is the same as for a zoning variance and regulations in Chapter 18.30 shall apply. (Ord. 957 § 26, 2011; Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.165 Enforcement.

In addition to all other methods of enforcement identified in this chapter and elsewhere in this code, the city shall remove all signs on public property that have not been approved per all relevant portions of this chapter and specifically Section 18.35.070(G). (Ord. 704, 1995)

18.35.170 Conflicting provisions.

If any provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with any provision of any zoning, building, fire safety or health ordinance or code of the city, the provision which establishes the higher standard shall prevail. (Ord. 465, 1985)

18.35.180 Violation – Penalty.

Violation of or failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty as set forth in Chapter 1.14. When violations are of a continuing nature, the penalty shall increase each day of the violation as set forth in Section 1.14.050(E). (Ord. 834, 2003)