DIVISION 3. SIGNS*

*Cross references: Advertisements, ch. 6; placement of signs in street, sidewalk, alley or other public space, 6-7; streets, sidewalks and other public places, ch. 66; zoning, ch. 78, art. III.

Sec. 78-75. Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this division, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

Sign means any writing, letter work or numeral, pictorial presentation, illustration or decoration, emblem, device, symbol or trademark, flag, banner, or pennant or any other device, figure or character which is:

Sign, advertising, and off-premises sign mean any billboard or other sign on which is portrayed information that directs attention to a business, commodity, service or entertainment not lawfully existing or permitted on the site upon which the sign is located.
Sign, announcement, means a sign of temporary character indicating the names of persons associated with or events conducted upon the premises on which the sign is located.
Sign, business, means any sign, except an advertising sign, that directs attention to a business, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or offered on the same premises upon which the sign is maintained.
Sign, freestanding, means a sign supported by upright structural members, braces, or ground anchorage and not attached to a building.
Sign, identification, means a sign that gives the name and address of a building, business, development, or establishment. Such sign may be wholly or partly devoted to a readily recognized symbol or trademark uniquely attributable to the property's ownership or management.
Sign, informational, means a sign conveying instructions with respect to the premises on which it is located which gives directions or provides information to the public by official notices, place names and tourist information.
Sign, portable, means a sign not permanently attached to the ground or a building, including any sign attached to a vehicle for advertising purposes when the vehicle is so parked as to attract the attention of the public.
Sign, shopping center, means a freestanding sign which identifies the name of the shopping center and does not identify individual enterprises, products, services, or amusements.
Sign, wall, means a sign attached to or deriving its major support from a wall, including the following: arcade sign, awning sign, canopy sign, marquee sign, projecting sign, roof sign, wall sign, and window sign.
(Code 1991, 14-101)
Cross references: Definitions generally, 1-2.

Sec. 78-76. Purpose and intent.


(a) The purpose of this division is to regulate all signs placed for exterior observance in order to foster the city's policies for the protection of property values, the protection of the character of the various communities in the city, the encouragement of the sound development of land throughout the city for its most appropriate use, and the protection of the public welfare in general.
(b) A sign placed on land or on a building for the purpose of identification, protection or advertising a use conducted therein shall be deemed to be an integral part of the land or building. Therefore, the purpose of this division is to establish limitations on signs in order to ensure that they are appropriate to the land, building or use to which they are appurtenant and are adequate but not excessive for their intended purpose. Business sign restrictions have been devised after considering, among other matters, shopping habits, extent of trade area, means of access, the avoidance of excessive competition among sign displays in their demand for public attention and the protection of commercial speech under the first amendment to the United States Constitution.
(c) Advertising signs are considered inappropriate to the character and sound development of the city and it is intended by this division that the streets and highways in the city shall not be made available for such display, except that advertising signs may be located in certain commercial and industrial districts in which they are deemed not to be incongruous with other uses permitted therein.
(d) It is further intended that, in proposed commercial and industrial areas, all signs within one complex be coordinated with the architecture in such a manner that the overall appearance is harmonious in color, form and proportion.
(Code 1991, 14-102)

Sec. 78-77. General regulations; permit required.


(a) All signs shall be regulated in accordance with the provisions of this division and the zoning district in which a sign is to be located.
(b) No sign, except those qualifying for permit exemption, shall be painted, constructed, erected, remodeled, relocated or expanded until a sign permit for such sign has been obtained in accordance with the provisions of this division and until such complies with the regulations in this division.
(Code 1991, 14-103)

Sec. 78-78. Exemptions from permit requirement.

The following signs or signing operations shall not require a sign permit:

(Code 1991, 14-104)

Sec. 78-79. Application for permit; permit fee; expiration of permit; special exceptions.


(Code 1991, 14-105; Ord. No. 98-2, I, 1-27-1998)

Sec. 78-80. Prohibited signs.

The following signs shall be prohibited in the city:

(Code 1991, 14-106)

Sec. 78-81. Sign regulations by zoning districts.

The following regulations shall apply to all signs for which a permit is required by the provisions of this division:

(Code 1991, 14-107)

Sec. 78-82. Signs visible from interstate and federal aid highways.

(Code 1991, 14-108)
State law references: Outdoor advertising in sight of public highways, Code of Virginia, 33.1-351 et seq.

Sec. 78-83. Measurements.

(Code 1991, 14-109)

Sec. 78-84. Nonconforming signs.

Signs lawfully existing as of April 25, 1984, which do not conform to the provisions of this article, and signs which are accessory to a nonconforming use, shall be deemed to be nonconforming signs. Such signs shall not be enlarged, extended or structurally altered, reconstructed or changed in any manner. No such sign shall be worded so as to advertise or identify any business other than that in effect at the time it became a nonconforming sign. No nonconforming sign shall be moved on the same site.
(Code 1991, 14-110)

Secs. 78-85--78-111. Reserved.


Last Update: 9 March 2006

Name: Gary Stanton, Dept of Historic Preservation

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