FAQ forthcoming on ordained and enacted amendment to Signs & Billboards Ordinance

Date: July 24, 2017

At its Regular Meeting on June 5, 2017, the Board of Supervisors ordained and enacted the 1033 Amendment to Signs and Billboards, Chapter 19 of the Ferguson Township Code of Ordinances. The existing chapter needed to be revised as a result of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Reed vs. The Town of Gilbert, AZ, in 2016, to address its content-neutral sign regulations.

The Township Planning & Zoning staff are preparing a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet about the revisions to be posted here soon.

The Supreme Court decided that municipal sign regulations should adhere to time, place and manner. Content-neutral regulations do not apply to or affect the sign message, or communication on the sign in any way. These regulations do not pertain to lettering, the graphics, the speech, the artwork, or colors. Nor do they prohibit or control the use of any of these characteristics.

Signs perform an important function in identifying and promoting properties, businesses, services, residences, events, and other matters of interest to the public. The intent is to regulate all signs within the Township to ensure that they are appropriate for their respective uses; in keeping with the appearance of the affected property and surrounding environment; and protective of public health, safety, and general welfare by:

1. Setting standards and providing uniform, scientifically based controls that permit reasonable use of signs and preserve the character of the Township while regulating physical characteristics of signs in order to create content-neutral signage controls;
2. Prohibiting the erection of signs in such numbers, sizes, designs, illumination, and locations as may create a hazard to pedestrians and motorists;
3. Avoiding excessive conflicts from large or multiple signs, so that permitted signs provide adequate identification and direction while minimizing clutter, unsightliness, and confusion; and
4. Establishing a process for the review and approval of sign permit applications to ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed right of free expression is protected.

Any sign erected, altered, or maintained after the effective date of this Ordinance shall conform to ordinance regulations.

The Township's Board of Supervisors had referred the proposed Sign Ordinance revisions to the Planning Commission for its review, comment, and recommendation. The Planning Commission briefly reviewed the draft ordinance at its February 27, 2017 meeting, and were given until the March 27, 2017 meeting to complete a full discussion.

Once the Planning Commission had the opportunity to formally comment on the revisions, the Planning and Zoning staff took its comments into consideration, presented the draft ordinance with its changes to the Planning Commission, and asked its members to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors repealed the existing ordinance and enacted the proposed ordinance on June 5, and authorized a public hearing on the amendment at its Regular Meeting on June 19.

The Township staff invited members of the public to review and comment on the proposed revisions. Staff encouraged members of the business community to review the Sign Ordinance and suggest any changes they believe would make it “business friendly." As this is the first time since 2014 that the Sign Ordinance has been amended, staff wanted to ensure the amended ordinance covers the wide range of sign types and associated uses of signs and billboards.

Revisions include, but are not limited to, temporary signs, exempt signs, digital message boards and unique commercial sign considerations.

View the 1033 Amendment to Signs and Billboards, Chapter 19 of the Ferguson Township Code of Ordinances