17-15-0500  Nonconforming Signs.
   17-15-0501 Policy. It is the policy of the City of Chicago to encourage that all signs within the city be brought into compliance with the requirements of Chapter 17-15. Moreover, it is the policy of the City of Chicago to require that all nonconforming flashing signs within the city be brought into compliance with the requirements of Chapter 17-15.
   17-15-0502 Definition. A nonconforming sign is a sign that was lawfully established pursuant to a lawfully issued permit but that is no longer allowed by the regulations of this Zoning Ordinance.
   17-15-0503 Continuation of Nonconforming Signs.Nonconforming signs may remain in use, subject to the regulations of this section (Sec. 17-15-0500), section 13-20-565, and all other applicable requirements of the Municipal Code. Nonconforming signs must be maintained in good repair, and must comply with all other requirements of this Zoning Ordinance.
   17-15-0504 Alterations. Change of copy or the substitution of panels or faces on nonconforming signs is permitted without affecting the legal status of a sign as a nonconforming sign (subject to requirements for building and electrical permits). No other alterations are allowed, except for routine maintenance and repair.
   The alteration of any nonconforming sign, other than for routine maintenance and repair, shall cause the sign to lose its status as a legal non-conforming sign and such status shall not be re-established. The language added to this section by this 2013 amendatory ordinance is intended to clarify rather than change existing law.
   17-15-0505 Nonconforming Flashing Signs.
      17-15-0505-A Amortization or Altered to Comply.
         1.   Nonconforming flashing signs that existed on the effective dates specified in Sec. 17-1-0200 must be removed or altered to comply with the standards of 17-12-1004 and 17-12-1005-C no later than November 1, 2009.
         2.   Flashing signs that become nonconforming because of subsequent amendments to this Zoning Ordinance must also be removed or altered to comply with the amended standards no later than 5 years of the effective date of the amendment that renders the flashing sign nonconforming.
         3.   Nonconforming flashing signs in existence after the date that they are required to be removed or altered relinquish their nonconforming status and thereafter constitute a violation of this Zoning Ordinance. Such violations are subject to enforcement and penalties under Chapter 17-16.
         4.   No zoning permits or approvals may be issued for any building to which a nonconforming flashing sign is appurtenant after the date that such nonconforming sign is required to be removed or altered.
         5.   No business license may be issued for business to which a nonconforming flashing sign is appurtenant after the date that such nonconforming sign is required to be removed or altered.
      17-15-0505-B Extension of Amortization Time Period.
         1.   Any person who owns or maintains a flashing sign that is required to be amortized may file an application for an extension of the required amortization period.
         2.   The application for an extension must be in a form prescribed by the Zoning Administrator and include information that the Zoning Administrator deems appropriate to act upon the application.
         3.   If the Zoning Administrator determines that the applicant has not yet recovered the applicant's investment in the sign plus a reasonable rate of return, the Zoning Administrator must issue a permit authorizing the sign to remain in place during a period of time sufficient to enable the applicant to recover the applicant's investment in the sign plus a reasonable rate of return. For purposes of this provision, a “reasonable rate of return” will be a rate of return on an applicant's investment equal to the weekly average 1-year constant maturity Treasury yield, as published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, for the calendar week during which the application is received by the Zoning Administrator.
      17-15-0505-C Signs may remain in place while the application for a time extension is pending and, if it is denied, for no more than 30 days thereafter unless the Zoning Administrator's ruling on the application is stayed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
   17-15-0506 Abandoned Nonconforming Signs.
      17-15-0506-A Any nonconforming on- premise sign that is located on property that has failed to maintain a valid business license or that becomes vacant and unoccupied for a period of 12 months or more, or any nonconforming on-premise sign that pertains to a time, event or purpose that is no longer imminent or pending will be deemed to have been abandoned.
      17-15-0506-B
         1.   Any nonconforming off-premise sign that is not used or for which a valid permit does not exist for a continuous period of 12 months or more will be deemed to have been abandoned.
         2.   A sign structure that is removed, except as a result of criminal vandalism, such that a nonconforming sign for which a valid permit existed can no longer be displayed, will be deemed to have been abandoned. The remaining presence of in-ground or above-ground footings or portions of the poles or bracing, wiring or other apparatus shall not be grounds for retention of the nonconforming status or revival of the permit.
      17-15-0506-C Abandoned nonconforming signs are prohibited and must be removed by the owner of the sign or the property owner of the premises.
      17-15-0506-D No zoning permits or approvals may be issued for buildings occupied by nonconforming abandoned signs until such signs are removed.
      17-15-0506-E No business license may be issued for businesses with nonconforming abandoned signs after the date that such nonconforming signs are required to be removed or altered.
(Added Coun. J. 5-26-04, p. 25275; Amend Coun. J. 3-9-05, p. 44391; Amend Coun. J. 9-13-06, p. 84870, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 2-15-12, p. 20906, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 2-13-13, p. 47133, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 7-24-13, p. 58318, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 1-23-19, p. 94952, Art. I, § 30)