06/19/09 — County to control signs in zoned areas

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County to control signs in zoned areas

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 19, 2009 1:46 PM

County commissioners without comment Tuesday unanimously enacted an amendment to the county zoning ordinance regulating the size and location of on-premises signs in areas the county has already zoned.

Existing signs would be grandfathered in. However, changes to the signs would fall under the new rules.

The regulations do not apply to signs inside a municipality nor to those in unzoned areas of the county.

The board aims to use the regulations, possibly in tandem with proposed new off-street parking and loading rules, as a tool for ensuring orderly development.

A public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 9:15 a.m. on the off-street parking and loading regulations. It will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

It will be the second time commissioners have held a public hearing on the issue. Commissioners took no action after the first hearing several months ago and referred it back to the county Planning Board for additional study. It was decided that so much time had lapsed that a second hearing would be in order before taking any action.

The lack of parking lot standards and sign standards played into the recent debate surrounding a rezoning request by Commissioner Steve Keen.

Appearance concerns were cited by the county planning staff in recommending against rezoning a portion of Keen's property from Residential/Agriculture 20 to Commercial Shopping. The Planning Board recommended the rezoning.

The request was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday. Commissioners have yet to act on the request.

Most of the county is not zoned.

Zoned areas are mostly around schools and the county's three airports -- Mount Olive, Goldsboro-Wayne and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. An area at Lane Tree Golf Course was zoned at the request of property owners.

Zoning maps may be viewed on the county Web site at www.waynegov.com or at the county planning office that has moved to the Jeffreys Building (the old Federal Building).

The sign specifies which signs require permits to install and those that do not.

For example, signs for churches, schools, or public buildings including bulletin board (lighted or unlighted) and not exceeding 20 square feet in area do not require a permit. The sign must be on the premises and may not be closer than 15 feet to the property lines.

Other examples are:

*Temporary real estate signs, such as "For Sale" or "For Rent" not exceeding 32 square feet in a residential zone or 64 square feet in a commercial zone.

*Signs offering agricultural products for sale, which were produced on premises, not exceeding 20 square feet, not be illuminated, and only during the harvest season.

*Temporary banners, lighting and displays as part of a customary holiday decoration or annual civic event.

*Yard sale signs may be placed on or off premises provided they are not lighted. The number is limited to three per sale, may remain in place for only three days in any 30-day period and must be removed when the sale is over. Maximum size is 4 square feet.

*Government signs

*Political campaign signs (not lighted) announcing candidates may not be displayed more than 60 days prior to an election and must be removed no later than 14 days after the election. Signs may not be larger than 32 square feet and 6 feet in height per parcel.

Prohibited signs include:

*Moving or rotating signs

*Roof-mounted signs

*Signs with flashing, moving, blinking, rotating or scintillating lights that may distract drivers.

*Signs that exhibit images or language of an obscene or sexual nature in accordance with state laws

*Civil Defense-style searchlights.

*Pavement markings for any purpose other than traffic control.

*Any sign that copies, imitates an official sign, or purports to have official status.

Signs, except those for public safety, cannot be placed within 10 feet of highway right-of-way. Advertising or business signs cannot be placed within 100 feet of a lot that has a house, church or school on it without approval from the property owner.