ARTICLE 12:  SIGN REGULATIONS
Section
12.1   Purpose and intent
12.2   Applicability
12.3   Exempt signs
12.4   Prohibited signs
12.5   General sign provisions
12.6   Signs permitted with a land development permit
§ 12.1  PURPOSE AND INTENT.
   The purpose of this article is to support and complement the various land uses allowed in the town’s jurisdiction through the regulation of signs. More specifically, the intent of this article is to:
   12.1.1   Encourage effective use. Encourage the effective use of signs as a means of communication in the town;
   12.1.2   Maintain and enhance character. To maintain and enhance the beauty and unique character and enhance the aesthetic environment of the town by eliminating visual blight;
   12.1.3   Enhance economic growth. To enhance the town’s ability to attract sources of economic growth and development;
   12.1.4   Maintain safe conditions. To protect pedestrians and motorists of the town from damage or injury caused or partially attributed to the distractions and obstructions caused by improper size and location of signs;
   12.1.5   Minimize adverse effects. To minimize the possible adverse effect of signs on public and private property; and
   12.1.6   Promote public health, safety, and welfare. To promote public safety, health, welfare, convenience, enjoyment of travel, and the free and safe flow of traffic within the town’s jurisdiction.
§ 12.2  APPLICABILITY.
   Unless exempted in accordance with § 12.3, Exempt Signs, no sign allowed by this article shall be constructed, erected, moved, enlarged, illuminated, altered, maintained, or displayed without first being issued a land development permit.
§ 12.3  EXEMPT SIGNS.
   The following types of signs shall be exempt from the requirement to obtain a land development permit, and may be located on a lot within any Base Zoning District provided the sign is located outside the right-of-way and complies with all applicable requirements in this section.
   12.3.1   Commercial signs.
   (A)   Drive through service menu boards which are not visible from a public right-of-way and do not exceed 32 square feet in area.
   (B)   Internally-directed signage, including banners, placards, and scoreboards, located within athletic fields and stadiums.
   (C)   Signs denoting a product being sold out of a vending machine or self-service container that distributes product(s) following deposition of money into the machine, provided that the sign does not exceed six square feet in area and is not legible from a public right-of-way.
   12.3.2   Fuel sales signs.
   (A)   Gasoline price or self-service signs of two square feet or less associated with a Retail Sales and Service Use selling gasoline, provided the signs are secured to a gasoline pump.
   (B)   One freestanding gasoline price sign less than nine square feet in area associated with a retail establishment selling gasoline, provided the sign is located outside of the street right-of-way.
   (C)   One state vehicle inspection station sign located outside of the street right-of-way.
   12.3.3   Historic or public interest signs.
   (A)   Public interest and incidental signs less than two square feet in size, including “Warning” and “No Trespassing” signs.
   (B)   Historical plaques mounted in accordance with the United States Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
   (C)   Temporary displays as part of a holiday or civic event.
   (D)   Flags, pennants, insignia, or religious symbols of any government, non-profit, or not-for-profit organization provided:
      (1)   Such signs are not associated with commercial promotion; or used as an advertising device;
      (2)   No pole displaying such signage exceeds 35 feet in height;
      (3)   Flags, except those representing United States government bodies, do not exceed 60 square feet in size; and
      (4)   Signs are limited to a maximum of three per site.
   12.3.4   Political campaign signs. Campaign and election signs provided:
   (A)   No sign exceeds 12 square feet in area;
   (B)   No sign is erected more than 60 days prior to the election for which they are intended;
   (C)   Signs are removed within seven days following the election for which they are intended; and
   (D)   All signs are placed outside of the right-of-way in locations which do not obstruct the vision of motorists.
      Nothing in this section is intended to preempt any other relevant state or federal law regarding political campaign signs.
   12.3.5   Produce stand signs. Produce stand signs provided:
   (A)   Signs are limited to a maximum of one per stand, and shall be located on the same site as where the products for sale are produced;
   (B)   The sign is located outside of the right-of-way and at least ten feet from any side lot line;
   (C)   The sign has a maximum area of 12 square feet; and
   (D)   The sign is not illuminated.
   12.3.6   Real estate signs. Temporary real estate signs advertising a specific property for sale, lease, rent, or temporary construction signs provided:
   (A)   There is no more than one sign per street frontage;
   (B)   Signs do not exceed a maximum of ten square feet in area per sign on a lot in a residential Base Zoning District and 32 square feet per sign on a lot in any other Base Zoning District;
   (C)   Signs on corner lots are located at least 100 linear feet apart as measured by the shortest straight line between them;
   (D)   Signs are removed within seven days after the property is sold, rented, leased, or construction has been completed; and
   (E)   No sign is illuminated.
   12.3.7   Regulatory and informational signs.
   (A)   Regulatory signs, such as traffic-control signage, and NCDOT signs.
   (B)   Memorial signs or grave markers that are noncommercial in nature.
   (C)   Integral decorative or architectural features of buildings or works of art, provided such features or works do not contain trademarks or advertising messages.
   (D)   Up to two wall-mounted incidental signs including tenant identification, historical markers, or bulletin boards not exceeding six square feet in area.
   (E)   On-premises directional and instructional signs not exceeding six square feet in area.
   (F)   One subdivision identification sign located at each entrance to the subdivision, provided the sign has a maximum height of six feet and does not exceed 36 square feet in area per face.
   (G)   Single-family dwelling identification signs depicting an address or resident’s name, provided the sign does not:
      (1)   Advertise a home occupation use;
      (2)   Exceed three square feet in area; or
      (3)   Exceed one per single-family dwelling.
   12.3.8   Temporary signs.
   (A)   Temporary special event signs and banners for religious, charitable, civic, fraternal, or similar non-profit or not-for-profit organizations provided:
      (1)   Signs are erected no sooner than 30 days prior and removed no later than two days after the event;
      (2)   No sign exceeds 32 square feet in area;
      (3)   Signs are not illuminated;
      (4)   Signs are placed at least five feet behind the right-of-way and out of any sight triangles, and must have property owner’s approval to post a sign on their property;
      (5)   Signs are limited to a maximum of four special events per organization per calendar year; and
      (6)   Signs are limited to a maximum of one on-premises sign or banner and three off-premises signs or banners.
   (B)   On-premises pennants, flags, and streamers for special events and grand openings associated with nonresidential for-profit uses may be permitted for one consecutive 30-day period per establishment per calendar year.
   (C)   Temporary banners associated with for-profit nonresidential use, provided they are:
      (1)   Limited to a maximum of 75 square feet in area;
      (2)   Attached to the primary facade of a principal structure or set back 50 feet from the right-of-way;
      (3)   Not attached to a roof structure or an existing sign face;
      (4)   Not located above the second floor level;
      (5)   Limited to a maximum of two special events per establishment per calendar year, for periods not to exceed 15 consecutive days; and
      (6)   Removed within two days of the event’s conclusion.
   12.3.9   Window signs. Window signs on the ground floor of a commercial use provided the window sign(s) occupies less than 50% of the total window area on the building side where it is located.
   12.3.10   Yard sale signs. Yard sale signs, provided they are:
   (A)   Limited to one on-premises sign per yard sale;
   (B)   No larger than four square feet in area;
   (C)   Not affixed to a utility pole or other sign; and
   (D)   Removed within two hours after the end of the yard sale.
§ 12.4  PROHIBITED SIGNS.
   The following signs shall be prohibited.
   12.4.1   Signs interfering with traffic safety. Any sign that obstructs the view of pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists using any street, the approach to any street intersection, or which interferes with the effectiveness of, or obscures, any traffic sign, device, or signal as determined by the Ordinance Administrator.
   12.4.2   Signs misconstrued as regulatory. Signs which contain lights, rotating disks, words, and other devices not erected by a public authority, which may be erroneously construed as regulatory signs or emergency warning signs. An example of this is a sign which contains a picture of a traffic sign plus the word “Stop” or “Yield”.
   12.4.3   Signs within the right-of-way. Any sign (other than a regulatory sign), banner, or display placed on any curb, sidewalk, post, pole, hydrant, bridge, tree, or other surface located on, over, or across any street or right-of-way, or any banner placed on stakes on a property, unless otherwise permitted.
   12.4.4   Signs blocking existing signs. Any sign located in such a way as to intentionally deny visual access to another existing sign.
   12.4.5   Flashing signs. Signs with flashing or reflective disks, signs with flashing lights or lights of changing degree of intensity or color (except regulatory signs).
   12.4.6   Signs on stakes. Pole signs or signs on metal or wood stakes which are not affixed to a permanent foundation (excluding regulatory signs and temporary election signs).
   12.4.7   Portable signs. Portable signs, including marquee signs with wheels and axles that have been removed and placed on permanent foundations.
   12.4.8   Vehicular signs. Vehicular signs placed or parked in such a manner as to advertise a business or product from any street right-of-way. This also includes billboards or outdoor advertising signs mounted to the bed of a truck.
   12.4.9   Moving or rotating signs. Signs which rotate or have any mechanical or wind-driven components that cause the sign to move or transform.
   12.4.10   Roof signs. Roof signs that extend above the soffit of a pitched roof, or above the highest point of a mansard roof or parapet wall.
   12.4.11   Off-premises commercial signs. Signs containing a commercial message which are not located on the same parcel as the business, product, or service being advertised. This shall not apply to outdoor advertising signs (billboards) which comply fully with the requirements of this article and all other applicable state and federal regulations.
   12.4.12   Inflatable signs. Inflatable signs (including inflated balloons with a diameter of greater than two feet) except as allowed as part of a temporary display as part of a holiday or civic event.
§ 12.5  GENERAL SIGN PROVISIONS.
   12.5.1   General standards. All permitted signs shall comply with the following general standards.
   (A)   The scale of a sign shall be appropriate for the building on which it is located.
   (B)   Signs shall be integrated with the design of the building and shall not obscure architectural features.
   (C)   Any structurally-unsafe sign that endangers the public safety shall be immediately removed or repaired and made compliant with the requirements of this ordinance.
   (D)   No sign shall be located so as to impair traffic visibility.
   12.5.2   Computation of sign area.
   (A)   The area of a sign face (which is also the sign area of a wall sign or other sign with only one face) shall be computed by means of the smallest polygon that will encompass the limits of the writing, emblem, or other display, together with any material or color forming an integral part of the background of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the backdrop or structure against which it is placed, but not including any supporting framework, base, bracing, or decorative fence or wall when such fence or wall otherwise meets the regulations of this ordinance and is clearly incidental to the display itself. Street address numbers are not included within the sign copy area.
   (B)   For a single wall, all pieces of information or other graphic representations within a grouping on that wall shall be measured as though part of one sign, encompassed within one rectangle, which may not exceed the permitted total wall area to which the sign is affixed. For a single wall on a multi-occupant building, the area of signs shall be computed using these principles, and the aggregate copy of each.
   12.5.3   Authority to remove signs from right-of-way. Except where authorized, signs within a public right-of-way shall be prohibited. The town may remove and dispose of any sign located in the public right-of-way without providing prior notice to the sign’s owner.
§ 12.6  SIGNS PERMITTED WITH A LAND DEVELOPMENT PERMIT.
   This section sets forth the standards for the types of signs that are required to obtain a land development permit prior to their construction, erection, enlargement, display, alteration, or illumination
   12.6.1   Permitted signs by Base Zoning District.Table 12-1, Permitted Signs by Base Zoning District, prescribes the allowable types, numbers, dimensions, locations, and configurations of permitted signs within the Base Zoning Districts.
 
Table 12-1 Permitted Signs By Base Zoning District
Sign Type
Use Type
Maximum Area (Sq. Ft. per Face)
Maximum Height (Feet)
Maximum Number
Location
Illumination
RP and RR Districts
Directory Sign
Civic and institutional
6
4
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement
External
Monument Sign
SF detached residential subdivision
36
8
1
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
External
Nonresidential
48
Wall Sign (Front)
Nonresidential
5% of wall area, up to 36 sq. ft. per sign
1 story building: below roof. 2+ story building: below sill of 2nd floor windows
1
N/A
Internal
Wall Sign (Side)
1 per facade
RS, RT, RMX, and RMF Districts
Directory Sign
Civic and institutional
6
4
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement
External
Monument Sign
SF detached residential subdivision
36
8
1 per development entrance
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
External
Attached residential (min. 10 units)
Civic and institutional
48
1 per street frontage, with a minimum separation of 200 feet between signs
Wall Sign (Front)
Civic and institutional
5% of wall area, up to 48 sq. ft. per sign
1 story building: below roof. 2+ story building: below sill of 2nd floor windows
1
N/A
Internal
Wall Sign (Side)
1 per facade
NB and CB Districts
Awning Sign
Nonresidential
25% of awning area
Limited to awnings associated with the 1st floor
N/A
N/A
None
Canopy Sign
Commercial use with fuel sales
10% of canopy face
N/A
1 per street frontage
N/A
None
Directory Sign
Civic and institutional
10
4
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement
External
Commercial
5 per tenant up to 25 sq. ft.
6
1 per street entrance
Not visible from public ROW
Hanging Sign
All uses
16 inches high by 36 inches wide
7.5 feet above sidewalk (minimum)
1 per establishment
Under awning
None
Monument Sign
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
48
8
1 per street frontage with minimum 200 feet of separation between signs
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
Internal or external
Multi-tenant buildings
60
Pole Sign
Nonresidential uses
60
20
Internal
Projecting Sign
All uses
36
10 feet above grade (minimum)
1 per establishment
Signs shall be located in such a manner that the top of the sign does not extend past the roofline
Internal
Wall Sign (Front)
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
1 per linear foot of building or suite facing the street, up to 75 sq. ft. per sign
1 story building: below roof. 2+ story building: below sill of 2nd floor windows
2
N/A
Internal
Multi-tenant buildings
1 per tenant
Wall Sign (Side)
All uses
5% of wall area, up to 50 sq. ft. per sign
1 per facade
Window Sign
All uses
50% of total window area on first floor facade
First floor primary facade
None
OI District
Awning Sign
Nonresidential
25% of awning area.
Limited to awnings associated with the 1st floor
N/A
N/A
None
Directory Sign
Civic and institutional
10
4
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement
External
All other uses
5 per tenant up to 25 sq. ft.
6
1 per street entrance
Not visible from public ROW
Hanging Sign
All uses
16 inches high by 36 inches wide
7.5 feet above sidewalk (minimum)
1 per establishment
Under awning
None
Monument Sign
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
48
8
1 per street frontage with minimum 200 feet of separation between signs
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
External
Wall Sign (Front)
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
1 per linear foot of building or suite facing the street, up to 50 sq. ft. per sign
1 story building: below roof. 2+ story building: below sill of 2nd floor windows
2
N/A
Internal
Multi-tenant buildings
1 per tenant
Wall Sign (Side)
All uses
10% of wall area, up to 25 sq. ft. per sign
1 per facade
Window Sign
All uses
25% of total window area on first floor facade
First floor primary facade
None
HB District
Awning Sign
All uses
35% of awning area
Limited to awnings associated with the 1st floor
N/A
N/A
None
Canopy Sign
Commercial use with fuel sales
20% of canopy face
N/A
1 per street frontage
N/A
None
Directory Sign
Civic and institutional
12
4
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement
External
Commercial
5 per tenant up to 50 sq. ft.
6
1 per street entrance
Not visible from outside of the development
Interstate Sign
All uses
450
50
1 billboard or interstate sign per parcel
Signs must be located within 50 feet of the ROW of 1-85 or an access road to 1-85 abutting the 1-85 ROW; no closer than 1,000 feet from any other interstate sign or billboard; and located only on parcels with a minimum of 1,800 linear ft. of road frontage abutting ROW of I-85 or an access road abutting ROW of I-85
Internal or external
Monument Sign
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
48
8
1 per street frontage with minimum 200 feet of separation between signs
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
Internal or external
Multi-tenant buildings
80
Pole Sign
Commercial uses
120
30
Internal
Projecting Sign
All uses
48
10 feet above grade (minimum)
1 per establishment
Signs shall be located in such a manner that the top of the sign does not extend past the roofline
Internal
Wall Sign (Front)
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
1 per linear foot of building or suite facing the street, up to 125 sq. ft. per sign
1 story building: below roof. 2+ story building: below sill of 2nd floor windows
4
N/A
Internal
Multi-tenant buildings
1 per tenant
Wall Sign (Side)
All uses
5% of wall area, up to 75 sq. ft. per sign
1 per facade
Interstate Wall Sign
All interstate frontage buildings
15% of wall area up to an aggregate total of 450 sq. ft.
4
Signage must be located on the building facade which faces the interstate
Window Sign
All uses
50% of total window area on first floor facade
First floor primary facade
None
LI District
Awning Sign
All uses
25% of awning area
Limited to awnings associated with the 1st floor
N/A
N/A
None
Canopy Sign
Commercial use with fuel sales
20% of canopy face
N/A
1 per street frontage
N/A
None
Directory Sign
All uses
5 per tenant up to 50 sq. ft.
6
1
5 feet behind curb or 10 feet from edge of pavement.
External
Monument Sign
All uses
80
8
1 per street frontage with minimum 200 feet of separation between signs
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
Internal or external
Pole Sign
All uses
100
25
Internal
Wall Sign (front)
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
1 per linear foot of building or suite facing the street, up to 100 sq. ft. per sign
Below roof line
2
N/A
Internal
Multi-tenant buildings
1 per tenant
Wall Sign (side)
All uses
5% of wall area, up to 75 sq. ft. per sign
Below roof line
1 per facade
N/A
Internal
Window Sign
All uses
50% of total window area on first floor facade
First floor primary facade
None
HI District
Billboard (Outdoor Advertising Sign)
All uses
450
35
1 per parcel
Signs must be located within 50 feet of the ROW of 1-85
External
Interstate Sign
All uses
450
50
1 billboard or interstate sign per parcel
Signs must be located within 50 feet of the ROW of 1-85 or an access road to 1-85 abutting the 1-85 ROW; no closer than 1,000 feet from any other interstate sign or billboard; and located only on parcels with a minimum of 1,800 linear ft of road frontage abutting ROW of I-85 or an access road abutting ROW of I-85
Internal or external
Monument Sign
All uses
100
8
1 per street frontage with minimum 200 feet of separation between signs
At least 5 feet behind ROW and at least 10 feet from any property line
Internal or external
Pole Sign
All uses
150
35
Internal
Wall Sign (front)
All uses (except multi-tenant buildings)
1 per linear foot of building or suite facing the street, up to 150 sq. ft. per sign
Below roof line
4
N/A
Internal
Multi-tenant buildings
1 per tenant
Interstate Wall Sign
All interstate frontage buildings
15% of wall area with an aggregate total of 450 sq. ft.
4
Signage must be located on the building facade which faces the interstate
Wall Sign (side)
All uses
5% of wall area, up to 100 sq. ft. per sign
1 per facade
N/A
 
   12.6.2   Additional sign standards. The following standards shall apply in addition to those set forth in Table 12-1.
   (A)   Attached signage.
      (1)   Projecting signs and wall signs may not be located on the same facade of a structure.
      (2)   Wall signs shall not project more than 18 inches from the wall to which they are attached.
      (3)   Projecting signs may not project more than four feet from the wall to which they are attached.
      (4)   No attached sign or its supporting structure shall cover any window or part of a window.
   (B)   Freestanding signage.
      (1)   No more than one type of freestanding sign (monument sign or pole sign) may be used on a single parcel.
      (2)   Monument signs may only be erected along a street frontage where the principal structure is set back at least 15 feet from the right-of-way.
      (3)   Pole signs may only be erected along a street frontage where the principal structure is set back at least 30 feet from the right-of-way.
      (4)   In parcels with an interstate sign, no pole sign or monument sign may be erected so as to be seen from I-85.
   (C)   Electronic message boards.
      (1)   Electronic message boards may only be included as a feature on monument, pole, or interstate signs.
      (2)   Electronic message boards shall not comprise more than 25% of the permitted area of the sign on which they are included.
      (3)   The display on an electronic message board may not change more frequently than once per minute. Animated message transitions are not allowed.
      (4)   The display on any electronic message board that can be seen from 1-85 must be static.
   (D)   Billboards (outdoor advertising signs).
      (1)   No billboard shall be erected within a 1,000 foot radius of another billboard or interstate sign within the town’s jurisdiction.
      (2)   Billboards shall comply with all NCDOT permitting requirements and regulations pertaining to the clearing of vegetation within the right-of-way.
   (E)   Sign appearance.
      (1)   The use of high intensity colors or fluorescent pigments is prohibited.
      (2) All signs and sign supports must be constructed of materials that present a finished appearance. Rough cut plywood and recycled telephone poles are not permitted.
      (3)   The sign’s lettering should be professionally applied; a graffiti look with hand painted or paint stenciled letters is not acceptable.
      (4)   Exposed neon signs are prohibited.