Sign Ordinance Back To Board In Cumberland

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CUMBERLAND — Members of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors are set to adopt an amended sign ordinance in July that addresses use of animated, electronic, illuminated and other types of signage for business and residential use.

County supervisors held a public hearing in June and tasked the county’s planning commission with reviewing the amendments to the ordinance again, said Planning Director Sara Carter.

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In a memo to County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Giles and supervisors, Carter noted that the existing sign ordinance had been on the commission’s list of projects for several years. The June memo recommended the board consider revised language that “resolves several issues.” The revised ordinance, wrote Carter, reduces confusion between sections, adds missing definitions and clarifies existing definitions, creates a consistent sign area for districts, addresses the advent of electronic signs and allows signs in business districts and along Route 60, with a provision for cycle time to prevent driver distraction, and increases the amount of sign area allowed in certain zoning districts.

“The existing sign ordinance is really very difficult to understand,” Carter told The Herald.

She said in revising the ordinance, the commission wanted to make sure people are able to appropriately advertise their businesses.

What the commission examined most recently after the supervisors’ first look, said Carter, were existing non-conforming signs, specific definitions of yard sale and flea market signs, changes in banner signs, leaving the prohibition of animated signs, and eliminating a fee to obtain a sign permit.

Carter said the commission wants to communicate to the board that “there’s only one sign that we know of that was a legal, non-conforming sign that will remain that way with the new ordinance.”

She said that the new ordinance is essentially bringing signs into compliance with county code.

Some other prohibited signs, according to the revised ordinance, include off-premise signs and banner signs, except when used temporarily.

Some signs, such as yard sale signs, won’t require a permit.

In certain residentially zoned areas (R-1, R-3 and R-MH) and recreational access areas, identification signs, freestanding signs and sale or rent signs are allowed, depending on their size and height. In agricultural and certain residentially zoned areas (R-2), directional signs, identification signs, free standing signs and wall signs are permitted, depending on their size and height.

In business and industrial agricultural land use zoning districts, directional signs, canopy signs, wall or roof signs and freestanding signs are allowed, again, depending on their size and height.

Sign sizes and heights vary from larger signs allowed in business and industrial zones, while smaller signs are permitted in residential areas, according to the ordinance.

“They are going to leave the animated signs the way that they are in terms of their current recommendation,” Carter said of the commission’s wanting to allow electronic signs but not animated ones.

“Electronic changeable copy signs are only permitted in business zoning districts and in the R-2 district that surrounds Anderson Highway (Route 60),” states the document.

The commission wants to allow, Carter said, electronic changeable copy that has a changeable face, but no movement or animation on the sign.

“Every four seconds, what you have on that electronic sign can change…It can’t be scrolling,” Carter said.

The commission is also recommending to the board that the size restriction for banner signs be eliminated, returning to the 30-day time frame of having them displayed.