§ 153.206  GENERAL PROVISIONS.
   (A)   Prohibited signs. The following signs shall not be allowed in any zoning district:
      (1)   Signs that are not consistent with the standards of this chapter;
      (2)   Signs that are not clean (i.e., are covered with materials that obscure the message, in whole or in part); signs that are not in good repair (i.e., having broken foundation, base or support structures, lighting fixtures and the like) and/or having a faded appearance;
      (3)   Signs that are structurally unsafe and/or dangerous (i.e., in a state of disrepair or being designed and/or constructed so as to pose a likely threat of total or partial collapse) (see division (E) below);
      (4)   Signs that are not securely affixed to a substantial structure that will hold the sign in a fixed position under normal weather conditions;
      (5)   Signs that are attached to any natural growth, such as trees, shrubs or other natural foliage;
      (6)   Signs other than official utility company signs affixed to power utility poles or other utility structures or fixtures;
      (7)   Signs located so as to interfere with the view necessary for motorists to proceed safely through intersections or to enter onto or exit from public streets or private roads (see § 153.142 of this chapter);
      (8)   Signs in public rights-of-way other than those allowed by the state’s TODS program;
      (9)   External neon signs other than in the GC, CBD or CH Districts;
      (10)   All types of pennants, streamers and airborne devices attached to the ground or buildings;
      (11)   Billboards;
      (12)   Internally lighted signs;
      (13)   Off-premises signs;
      (14)   Roof signs; and
      (15)   Signs containing an electronic sign face other than allowed by § 153.209(A) of this chapter.
   (B)   Signs authorized without a sign permit. The following signs are authorized in any district without a sign permit and are not included towards the maximum number of signs allowed on a parcel, but shall conform to the applicable requirements of this chapter and the applicable building codes:
      (1)   Signs posted on private property less than or equal to two square foot in sign face area;
      (2)   Signs erected by, on behalf of a governmental body for purposes of protecting the public health, safety and welfare;
      (3)   Official signs erected by public utilities;
      (4)   Flags or insignia;
      (5)   Any sign located wholly within a building and not visible from outside the building;
      (6)   Window signs located on the interior of a building. Window signs located on the exterior of a building are considered wall signs and are subject to all applicable regulations; and
      (7)   Public signs or signs sanctioned by a public body on public land are not subject to this chapter.
   (C)   Permit required for signs.
      (1)   Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no sign may be constructed, erected, moved, enlarged, illuminated or otherwise altered unless a sign permit has been issued in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Repainting or changing the message of a sign is not in and of itself considered an alteration.
      (2)   Application for a sign permit shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator on appropriate forms supplied by her or his office. Said application shall contain the following information:
         (a)   Name, address and telephone number of the applicant;
         (b)   Written permission of property owner on whose property the sign will be located (if the applicant is not the property owner);
         (c)   Type of sign as defined by this chapter;
         (d)   Scaled drawing showing sign size, height, type of support (if applicable), zoning district in which the sign will be located, location of sign on property including front and side yard setback distances and any other information required herein;
         (e)   Street address of the property upon which the sign will be located; and
         (f)   The name of the sign contractor, who shall erect the sign and/or sign structure.
      (3)   No permit shall be issued for the erection of any sign or signs until such sign(s) have been reviewed and approved by the Zoning Administrator and without first having paid a permit fee as established by the City Council.
      (4)   Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Zoning Administrator may appeal that decision to the zoning board of appeals.
   (D)   Signs in public rights-of-way. All signs in the U.S. 31 and M 66 Highway rights-of-way are jointly regulated by the city and the state’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) at locations approved by and installed in accord with the state’s TODS program.
   (E)   Unsafe signs.
      (1)   No person, corporation, business organization or other legal entity shall own or maintain any sign or advertising device that is structurally unsafe. For purposes of this section, the term STRUCTURALLY UNSAFE shall mean being in a state of disrepair or being designed and/or constructed so as to pose a likely threat of a total or partial collapse.
      (2)   The Zoning Administrator and/or other officials designated by the Zoning Administrator shall have the right to inspect signs and advertising devices to determine whether they are structurally unsafe. The Zoning Administrator and/or other officials designated by the Zoning Administrator may exercise this right of inspection by consent of the owner of the sign or advertising device and the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located or by administrative search warrant.
      (3)   If the Zoning Administrator finds that a sign or advertising device is structurally unsafe, he or she shall serve on the owner of the sign or advertising device and the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located a written notice, which specifies all of the following:
         (a)   The location of the sign or advertising device that is structurally unsafe;
         (b)   The nature of the unsafe condition;
         (c)   The date, no less than 20 days after the written notice was served, before which the owner of the sign or advertising device or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located shall remedy the unsafe condition;
         (d)   A statement that if the owner of the sign or advertising device or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located fails to remedy the unsafe condition within the time specified in the written notice, the city may enter onto the property to remedy the unsafe condition and charge the costs of such action, including reasonable attorney fees, to the owner of the sign or advertising device and/or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located;
         (e)   A statement that the owner of the sign or advertising device and the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located has the right before the expiration of the deadline contained in the written notice to request a hearing before the City Council regarding whether the sign or advertising device is structurally unsafe;
         (f)   The service required by this subsection shall be personal service or service by certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested. For purposes of this section, the phrase REMEDY THE UNSAFE CONDITION shall mean repairing the sign or advertising device so that it does not pose a serious threat of a total or partial collapse or removing the sign or advertising device from the property;
         (g)   If the owner of the sign or advertising device or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located requests a hearing before the City Council as provided in this section, the city shall take no action to remedy the unsafe condition until, after notice and hearing, the City Council finds that the sign or advertising device is structurally unsafe. A notice of the time, date and place of the hearing before the City Council shall be served on the owner of the sign or advertising device and on the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located no less than 14 days before the scheduled hearing. The service of this notice may be made by first class mail. The owner of the sign or advertising device or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located may appeal an adverse decision by City Council to the circuit court as provided by law; and
         (h)   In exercising its right under this section to remedy the unsafe condition, either with or without a hearing before the City Council, the city shall remove the sign or advertising device from the property if the unsafe sign is in imminent danger of collapse causing injury or damage to persons or property. The costs of remedying and/or removing the unsafe condition shall be collected by the city from the owner of the sign or advertising device or the owner of the property on which the sign or advertising device is located.
   (F)   Non-conforming signs.
      (1)   Subject to the remaining restrictions of this section, non-conforming signs that were otherwise lawful on the effective date of this chapter may be continued, repaired and maintained as is necessary to keep in a sound condition.
      (2)   No person may engage in any activity that causes an increase in the extent of non-conformity of a non-conforming sign. In addition, no person may add illumination.
      (3)   A non-conforming sign may not be moved or replaced, except to bring the sign into greater conformity with this chapter.
      (4)   If a non-conforming sign is destroyed to the extent it is impractical to be restored using a majority of its existing major components, it may not thereafter be repaired, reconstructed or replaced except in conformity with all the provisions of this chapter, and the remnants of the former sign structure shall be cleared from the land.
      (5)   The message of a non-conforming sign may be changed so long as this does not create any new non-conformity.
(Prior Code, § 5.101)  (Ord. 789, passed 3-19-2018)