§ 82-461  SIGNS.
   (A)   The following conditions shall apply to all signs erected or located in any use district:
      (1)   All signs shall conform to all applicable codes and ordinances of the municipality and, where required, shall be approved by the building official and a permit issued.
      (2)   No sign, except those established and maintained by the city, county, state or federal governments, shall be located, project into, or overhang a public right-of-way or dedicated public easement, without permission of the governmental unit controlling the right-of-way or easement.
      (3)   No sign shall be located so as to obstruct the view of traffic on streets for vehicle drivers entering or leaving a premises.
      (4)   No sign otherwise permitted shall project above or beyond the maximum height limitation of the use district in which located.
      (5)   Signs containing only directional information, pedestrian or vehicle warnings, and control information shall be permitted in all use districts.  Such signs shall have a surface display area of not more than three square feet and shall not exceed five feet in height.
      (6)   Nonaccessory signs shall not be permitted in any district.  Nonconforming nonaccessory signs may not be expanded, enlarged or extended, but may be maintained and repaired so as to continue the useful life of the sign.
      (7)   Signs used for advertising land or buildings for rent, lease and/or for sale shall be permitted when located on the land or building intended to be rented, leased and/or sold.
      (8)   Freestanding signs may be allowed within a required front yard.
      (9)   Special event signs advertising sales or grand openings may be permitted under the following conditions:
         (a)   A sign application must be submitted, which provides the size, means of securing, and a site plan showing the location for signs 32 square feet or larger.  A maximum of one sign per parcel may be allowed.
         (b)   Signs up to 8 square feet may be allowed with a maximum of four per business.
         (c)   No signs shall be located on utility poles, street signs or trees.
         (d)   Signs will be allowed for a maximum of 14 days and a maximum of 6 times within a year.
      (10)  Community event.  Signs (including special event signs or banners) advertising activities may be permitted under the following conditions:
         (a)   A sign application must be submitted, which provides the dates, duration, site plan and location for the display.
         (b)   No signs shall be located on utility poles, street signs or trees.
         (c)   The sign shall not exceed 32 square feet.
         (d)   There shall be no more than 1 sign on any parcel or lot.
         (e)   The application must be approved by the Building Department.
      (11)   For open house signs for auctions or for the sale of real estate, a sign shall not exceed four square feet and shall not be placed in the city right-of- way.  Open house signs may be displayed 1 week (7 days) prior to the advertised event and removed immediately after the event.
      (12)   Signs and their supporting structures (poles, braces, brackets, and closing structural framework and the like) shall be adequately maintained.  Such maintenance shall include proper alignment of structure, continued readability of the announcement, display, illustration, or insignia, and preservation of structure with paint or other surface finish material so that the sign and support structure shall be without rust, corrosion, peeling paint, or other evidence of dilapidation.
      (13)   It shall be unlawful to maintain a sign or sign supporting structure which is structurally unsafe, or constitutes a hazard to safety or health, or which has not been properly maintained pursuant to the aforementioned subsection or has been abandoned.  Any sign or sign supporting structure which does not meet these requirements is hereby declared to be a public nuisance.  The owner of said sign or sign supporting structure shall have 30 days to abate the nuisance by either making repairs or removing the sign, as directed by the building official.  If the repairs are not made or the sign is not removed as directed by the building official, the building official shall file with the city clerk the notice given to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent, and such other persons having an interest in the sign or supporting structure, and a report on the findings of the building department giving rise to said notice, and there shall be a hearing before city council pursuant to the provisions as set forth at § 52-2 of the Charlotte City Code.
      (14)   One freestanding or 1 ground sign shall be allowed.
      (15)   Those signs or sign structures that involve motion or rotation of any part of the structure, running animation or running video displays, whether digital or analog, or incorporating flashing or moving lights, are prohibited.
   (B)   The following shall apply to the various use districts as indicated:
      (1)   Use district R-1, R-2 and R-T districts.
         (a)   Construction signs not exceeding 4.5 square feet per sign face and 36 inches in height shall be permitted.
            1.   Construction signs shall be permitted 7 days prior to the start of a minor construction project and may remain 7 days after completion not to exceed 45 days total.
            2.   Construction signs for major projects that include foundations shall be permitted 7 days prior to the start of the project and may remain until the occupancy permit is issued.
      (2)   Use district R-1, R-2, R-T, RM-1, RM-2 and MH districts.
         (a)   For each dwelling unit, 1 name-plate not exceeding 2 square feet in area, indicating name of occupant.
         (b)   For structures other than dwellings, 1 identification sign not exceeding 10 square feet per sign face, except for churches under the following conditions:
            1.   For churches located on state trunk lines and major streets, as that term is defined under the major street system of the city, it shall not exceed 32 square feet per sign face.
            2.   For churches located elsewhere, a sign not exceeding 18 square feet per sign face.
            3.   Signs may only be ground signs not to exceed 5 feet in height.

         (c)   For rental and/or management offices in a multiple housing development, 1 identification sign not exceeding 6 square feet per sign face.
         (d)   In RM-1, RM-2 and MH districts, where the multiple housing project abuts a single family use, or zoning district, 1 sign at each drive entrance indicating the name of the multiple housing project shall be permitted provided that no such sign shall exceed 10 square feet per sign face. Only ground signs compatible with the surrounding development shall be permitted for this purpose with a maximum height of 5 feet.
         (e)   In RM-1, RM-2 and MH districts abutting districts other than R-1, R-2, and R-T, 1 sign at each drive entrance indicating the name of the multiple housing project shall be permitted provided that no such sign shall exceed 32 square feet per sign face. Only ground signs compatible with the surrounding development shall be permitted for this purpose with a maximum height of 5 feet.
         (f)   For bed and breakfast dwelling units, a sign not exceeding 6 square feet in area may be placed on the wall of the dwelling unit, or a freestanding ground sign not to exceed 10 square feet, with a maximum height of 3 feet, and that only 1 sign per establishment be allowed.
         (g)   Garage sale signs may be displayed only during the conduct of such sale and should be promptly removed upon completion of such sale.  Location of garage sale signs on street, utility poles, trees and at any location within the city right-of-way shall be prohibited.
         (h)   Subdivision identification signs shall be ground signs only and shall not exceed 32 square feet per sign face at entrances to a subdivision outside the rights-of-way of any public or private street.  The location of such sign shall meet all corner clearance requirements so as not to obstruct traffic vision.
         (i)   In the RM-2 district, a sign to announce a grand opening shall be permitted, up to 32 square feet in size, for a period not to exceed 60 days for each building under permit.
         (j)   For home occupations, 1 wall sign or 1 freestanding sign not to exceed 3 square feet. Freestanding sign must be placed parallel to the front of the residence, with no portion to extend beyond a 36 inches distance from the front of the residence. Sign height may not exceed 4 feet. Exterior lighting specific to sign will not be permitted.
      (3)   Use district B-1, OS-1 and mixed use districts.
         (a)   No sign shall project beyond or overhang the wall, or any permanent architectural feature, by more than 1 foot, and shall not project above or beyond the highest point of the roof or parapet.  One sign shall be permitted for each office unit occupying a building.
         (b)   One accessory ground sign not over 5 feet in height and not exceeding 32 square feet in area per sign face may be located in the required front yard provided such sign is located no less than 20 feet from any property line of an adjacent residential district and shall be located so as not to obstruct traffic vision.
         (c)   Accessory wall signs not exceeding 100 square feet in area or ten percent of the area of the front wall of the structure, whichever is less.
         (d)   One freestanding accessory sign not over 20 feet in height.  Such signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential district.  Such sign shall be not over 64 square feet in area per sign face and may be located in the required front yard provided that the bottom of the structure, excluding supporting structure, is at least eight feet above grade.
         (e)   Two restaurant menu signs per drive through with 1 sign being a pre-menu board and 1 sign a regular menu board that do not exceed 96 inches in height.
      (4)   Use District B-2 and B-3  Districts.
         (a)   No sign shall project beyond or overhang the wall, or any permanent architectural feature, by more than one foot, and shall not project above or beyond the highest point of the roof or parapet.  One sign shall be permitted for each office unit occupying a building.
         (b)   One freestanding accessory sign not over 20 feet in height.  Such signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential district.  Such sign shall be not over 100 square feet in area per sign face and may be located in the required front yard provided that the bottom of the structure, excluding supporting structure, is at least eight feet above grade.
         (c)   Except as provided for in subsection (g),accessory awning and wall signs not to exceed 100 square feet in area or ten percent of the area of the side of the structure where the sign is located, whichever is less, may be permitted.
         (d)   One ground sign shall be permitted and shall not exceed five feet in height. Such signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential area.  Such sign shall not exceed 32 square feet per sign face.
         (e)   In those instances where a group of stores in a shopping center or plaza with a common parking lot to serve all stores, one freestanding sign for the shopping center or plaza not exceeding 150 square feet per sign face and not over 20 feet in height may be located in a required front yard no closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential district.  The bottom of the structure, excluding supporting structure, shall be not less than eight feet above grade.
         (f)   Two restaurant menu signs per drive through with 1 sign being a pre-menu board and 1 sign a regular menu board that do not exceed 96 inches in height.
      (5)   Use district PDD.
         (a)   As a guide, the normal sign regulations for the proposed use will be considered by the planning commission in granting its approval.
      (6)   Use District I-1, IRO and 1-2 Districts.
         (a)   No sign shall project beyond or overhang the wall or any permanent architectural feature by more than one foot.
         (b)   One accessory ground sign, not to exceed eight feet in height and 80 square feet in area per sign face, may be located in the required front yard and shall be located so as not to obstruct traffic vision.
         (c)   Accessory wall signs, not exceeding 100 square feet in area, or ten percent of the area of the side of the structure where the sign is located, whichever is greater.
   (C)   Advertising signs pertaining to real estate developments located within the city and designed to promote the sale of lots or homes within a subdivision located within the city may be permitted by the Building Department on a temporary basis provided the following conditions are met:
      (1)   Such accessory signs shall not exceed 32 square feet in area.  Signs which are freestanding shall comply with schedule of regulations if located on subdivided land.  If located on unsubdivided land, the yard requirements need not apply.  No sign shall be located on any road rights-of-way.
      (2)   A temporary permit shall be obtained for each accessory sign from the Building Department.
      (3)   Temporary accessory signs shall be kept in good condition and must be removed when the development is 90% complete.
   (D)   Political campaign signs announcing the candidacy of persons running for public office or issues to be voted upon at an election and other information pertinent thereto must be removed within seven days after the election to which they pertain.  There shall be a service charge of $50 to the owner of each political sign removed by the city after the seven day time limit has expired.
   (E)   Use District CBD.  Signs, Banners, and Flags in the Central Business District.
      (1)   No sign shall project above or beyond the highest point of the roof or parapet.
      (2)   One freestanding accessory sign not over 20 feet in height.  Such signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential district.  Such sign shall not be over 32 square feet in area per sign face and may be located in the required front yard provided that the bottom of the structure, excluding supporting structure, is at least eight feet above grade.
      (3)   Accessory awning and wall signs not to exceed 100 square feet in area or 10% of the area of the side of the structure where the sign is located, whichever is less, may be permitted.
      (4)   One ground signs shall be permitted.  Such signs shall not be placed closer than 100 feet to any adjacent residential area.  Such sign shall not exceed 32 square feet per sign face or five feet in height.
      (5)   Sidewalk signs shall only be permitted in the Central Business District.
         (a)   Sidewalk signs shall be limited to two and one-half by three feet in size and must be removed by the closing of the business day.
         (b)   Sidewalk signs shall not interfere with pedestrian passage nor create a public safety hazard.
         (c)  Any sidewalk sign in disrepair or not properly placed may be removed by the city at owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blight condition.
         (d)   Sidewalk signs, which are rolling signs, may not exceed five feet in height and shall occupy an area no greater than seven and one-half square feet.
         (e)   Each separate business shall be allowed one sidewalk sign whether the business encompasses more than one store-front or less than one store-front.
         (f)   No permit shall be required for a sidewalk sign. 
      (6)   For signs, banners, and flags.
         (a)   A banner is to be utilized only to promote a grand opening sale or special event.  A banner may be erected for a period not to exceed 15 days.
         (b)   The number of banners shall be limited to six approvals per business or non-profit organization per calendar year with no banner being used consecutively.
         (c)   A banner promoting a commercial purpose shall be limited to ten percent of the first floor wall space, per street front, but not to exceed 40 square feet.  A banner which promotes a non-profit purpose or event shall be limited to 50 square feet.
         (d)   A banner shall be attached to the building, for example, it shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards or other publicly owned property.  No banner shall be at a height greater than the top of the wall to which it is attached.  Non-profit organizations, however, may place a banner on their building face or yards, but shall not exceed 50 square feet.
         (e)   Any banner in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition at owner's expense.
         (f)   A sticker-style permit must be obtained from the city prior to installation of banners.
         (g)   Each separate business on a premises with multiple businesses shall be allowed a banner, provided, however, that there shall be required a separate entrance for each banner.
         (h)   Balloons are to be utilized only to promote a grand opening, sale or special event.  A balloon display may be erected for a period not to exceed three consecutive days in any one week.
         (i)   The number of balloons shall be no more than 12 in any one grouping and no balloons shall be more than 15 inches in diameter.
         (j)   Each separate business shall be allowed 12 balloons whether the business encompasses more than one store front or less than one store front.
         (k)   Balloons shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards or other publicly owned property.
         (l)   Any balloon display in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city at the owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition.
         (m)   A flag may be displayed for a period not to exceed 15 consecutive days in any one approval period.
         (n)   Flag approvals shall be limited to four per business per 12 month period.
         (o)   Each separate business shall be allowed one flag whether the business encompasses more than one store-front or less than one store-front.
         (p)   A flag shall be limited to 18 square feet.
         (q)   A flag shall be attached to the building face only, for example, it shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards or other publicly owned property.
         (r)   No flag shall be at a height greater than the top of the wall to which it is attached.
         (s)   Any flag in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city at the owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition.
         (t)   Nothing shall restrict the display of the American, state, city, school or community flags, which may be hung from the building and which may over-hang the sidewalk, provided that:
            1.   It is not more than 18 feet square in size;
            2.   It is properly anchored; and
            3.   That the lowest portion of the flag is at least eight feet above grade.
         (u)   Display of the American, state, city, school or community flags shall be permitted on property owned by the government or by a non-profit organization and shall be exempt from these requirements.
         (v)   Flags promoting a public purpose may be erected on city light poles.  Permission to place such flags must be granted by the Building Department.  Such flags must be at least eight feet above sidewalk grade and are exempt from all other requirements relating to flags in the above paragraphs.
   (F)   Banners, Balloons, Flags,  Sidewalk Signs, and Temporary Signs in the OS-1, B-1, B-2, B-3, I-1, IRO, and I-2 Districts.
      (1)   Banners shall be permitted to be displayed at any time during the year.
      (2)   Banners may only be attached to the principal structure.
      (3)   A banner promoting a commercial purpose shall be limited to ten percent of the first floor wall space, per street front, but not to exceed 32 square feet.
      (4)   A banner shall be attached to the building, for example, it shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards, or other publicly owned property.  No banners shall be at a height greater than the top of the wall to which it is attached.
      (5)   Any banner in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city at owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition.
      (6)   Balloons are to be utilized only to promote a grand opening, sale or special event.
      (7)   Balloons shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards or other publicly owned property.
      (8)   Any balloon display in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city at the owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition.
      (9)   Each separate business shall be allowed one flag whether the business encompasses more than one store-front or less than one store-front.
      (10)   A flag shall be attached to the building face only, for example, it shall not be mounted or hung from utility poles, wires, light standards or other publicly owned property.
      (11)   Any flag in disrepair or not properly hung may be removed by the city at the owner's expense so as not to create an unsafe or blighted condition.
      (12)   Nothing shall restrict the display of the American, state, city, school or community flags, which may be hung from the building.
   (G)   Unregulated Signs.  The following signs are exempt from regulation by this Chapter.
      (1)   One wall sign or one ground sign not exceeding one square foot in surface display area to designate an assigned house number or building name.  Such signs shall not be counted in the total sign area permitted the premises.  Such signs in excess of one square foot in surface display area may be permitted as part of the total sign area otherwise permitted under this chapter.
      (2)   Any sign, traffic signal, or warning device erected or displayed by any public agency, such signs shall not be counted against the number of signs or against the total sign area permitted on the premises in which they are located.
      (3)   Free-standing signs or wall signs indicating "No Parking", "Fire Lane," "Entrance" and similar wording when such signs are required to be erected by a public agency.  Such signs shall not be counted against the number of signs or against the total sign area permitted on such premises, provided they do not exceed three square feet per sign.  No license shall be required for such sign if approved by the traffic engineer.
      (4)   Signs existing on the effective date of the adoption of this chapter which are maintained by a church, school, community center, or other public building.
      (5)   Banners, balloons, and flags, in R-1, R-2, R-T, RM-1, RM-2, and MH Districts.
      (6)   Memorial signs or tablets denoting the name or date of erection of a building when cut into any masonry surface or when constructed of bronze or other nonncombustible material.
      (7)   Flags bearing the official design of a unit of government, education institution, or civic league or organization, fraternal benefit societies, order or association, or any organization operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or education purposes.  Providing such flags confirm to subsection (7)(t).
      (8)   Signs not exceeding 2 square feet which contain only noncommercial messages including designation of rest rooms, telephone location, or direction of door openings.
      (9)   Parking information signs containing only directional information or pedestrian or vehicular warning and control material.  Such signs shall have a surface display of not more than three square feet and shall not exceed 5 feet in height.
      (10)   Parking reservation signs not exceeding 1 square foot in surface display area and not exceeding three feet in height.
      (11)   Political signs which meet the requirements of § 82-461(d) of the city zoning ordinance.
      (12)   One wall or free-standing real estate sign, provided that, such signs are removed 10 days after the sale, lease, or rental of the property upon which erected, subject to the following further conditions:
         (a)   Real estate signs in residential areas shall not exceed 9 square feet in surface display area per face, and, if they are freestanding, shall be set back at least 15 feet from the nearest property line.
         (b)   Real estate signs in commercial areas shall not exceed 16 square feet in surface area per face, nor exceed 8 feet in height, and, if they are freestanding, shall be set back at least 25 feet fromthe nearest existing or future curb line, in the absence of the curbs, 25 feet from the nearest edge of pavement, and that only 1 sign per road frontage be allowed.
      (13)   Signs maintained by a political subdivision of the State of Michigan.
      (14)   Directly or indirectly illuminated signs which do not contain any illustration or communicate any message other than time, temperature, barber poles, or market quotations.
      (15)   Plaques or signs not exceeding 6 square feet designating a historic structure or district.
      (16)   One building directory sign not exceeding 6 square feet with letter height not greater than 2 inches painted on or attached to the building which contains only names of the building occupants.
   (H)   Appeals.
      (1)   Sign board of appeals.  The Charlotte Zoning Board of Appeals shall constitute a board of appeals for purposes of this chapter.
      (2)   Reduction, modification or waiver.  The board of appeals may authorize a variance from the requirements of this chapter upon request provided the standards established hereinafter are fully met.
      (3)   Standards for reduction, modification or waiver.  Standards for a variance are as follows:
         (a)   That there is a practical difficulty in the way of carrying out the strict letter of this article.
         (b)   That the practical difficulty is due to unique circumstances related to the particular property and not general to other property in the district, neighborhood, or throughout the city.
         (c)   That the problem was not created by the applicant.
         (d)   That granting the variance will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district.
         (e)   Every variance granted shall be in the minimum amount necessary to overcome the inequity inherent in the particular property.
   (I)   Height restriction.  No height variance shall be granted from the height restrictions except in cases where topographic or landscaping features restrict visibility.  A variance of no more than 5 additional feet may be granted.
(1993 Code, § 82-461)  (Ord. passed 10-12-1992; Ord. passed 1-8-1996(2);  Ord. passed 2-12-1996; Ord. passed 1-11-1999(2);  Ord. passed 7-23-2001; Ord. passed 3-11-2002(11); Ord. passed 7-12-2004; Ord. passed 12-12-2005; Ord. passed 9-11-2006; Ord. passed 4-9-2007(2); Ord. passed 4-9-2007(3); Ord. passed 3-10-2008)