Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Understanding how your business sign will be regulated

It is no secret that every business should invest in some type of signage. But before you do there are a few regulations you should be aware of.

Here are the two categories in which business signage is regulated:

1. Building & Electrical codes - Any permanent business sign has to conform to all applicable building and electrical codes. Making sure your signs comply with all codes will take some technical expertise. Before you have your sign installed make sure the company that is installing it agrees that they are responsible for making sure your sign/s comply with all codes.

2. Zoning & sign codes – The majority of all local government agencies regulate how business signs are displayed. Most codes include the following:

• Regulation of the size, number and location of signs – Local zoning and sign codes tend to regulate those 3 things. For instance, a specific code might specify that a “directional" sign must be within so many feet from the edge of the entry/exit or that a "freestanding"sign must be set back so many feet from the public right-of-way.

• Permit Applications & Approvals - Before the permit process begins the sign company or business owner must obtain an application from the local government office. Requirements vary from state to state but normally the applicant is required to submit information related to the construction and installation of the sign. The application fee has to be paid in full Provisions before your application will be reviewed.

• Provision for a variance – According to a variance is a "flexibility" device that allows a local government to provide a property owner with relief from the normal application of a restriction in the zoning code, such as minimum lot or building size or set back requirements. If the visibility of your sign is compromised due to certain codes you should request a variance.

• Treatment of Nonconforming Signs & Amortization – It is not uncommon for local governments to change zoning and sign codes every now and again. It is very unlikely that the local government will change the zoning and sign codes entirely. If your business sign was in compliance with the “old” code but is not in compliance with the “new” code then your sign would be considered a “legal non-conforming sign”. As a business owner you have the right to keep your “legal non-conforming sign”. You are not required to bring the sign into compliance with the “new” code.

As you can see there are several legal issues to take into consideration before purchasing a business sign. Knowing and understanding all of them is very important. Take the time to do a little research so you can get a full understanding before you spend any money on a sign.

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