City of Monessen, PA
Westmoreland County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 375-50 Applicability.

[Amended 4-21-2010 by Ord. No. 3-2010]
A. 
Purposes. This article is intended to promote and maintain overall community beautification; establish reasonable time, place and manner regulations on the exercise of free speech, without regulating content; promote traffic safety by avoiding distractions and sight distance obstructions; protect property values and ensure compatibility with the neighboring existing and planned land uses; and assist in carrying out the goals of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Advertising Act, as amended.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 36 P.S. § 2718.101 et seq., the Outdoor Advertising Control Act.
B. 
Permit required; fee. If a sign is not listed within the City Code's "Table of Miscellaneous Signs Not Requiring Permits,"[2] or if it is not a nonpermanent window sign, a permit under this chapter shall be required for display of such a sign. Only types, sizes and heights of signs that are specifically permitted by this chapter within the applicable district shall be allowed.
(1) 
A fee shall accompany each application for a permit. Such fees shall be established and revised from time to time by resolution of the City Council.
(2) 
Each sign permit application shall be accompanied by a drawing to scale showing the proposed sign, its dimensions, highest point above ground level, material, method of illumination, and exact location on the lot or structure involved, and other data as the Zoning Officers may require.
[2]
Editor's Note: The table of sign requirements is included at the end of this chapter.
C. 
Notice of noncompliance; violations and penalties.
(1) 
Notice. If a sign: is displayed before a required permit has been obtained; or is displayed although prohibited under § 375-58; or which does not require a permit for display is not removed within the time period required by the City Code's "Table of Miscellaneous Signs Not Requiring Permits," the Zoning Officers shall notify the record owner of the property and/or the party or parties identified as responsible for display of the sign that the sign must be completely removed within 14 days from the date of the notice, subject to penalty for noncompliance. After removal, the responsible party may apply for a sign permit, unless the sign is prohibited under § 375-58.
(2) 
Failure to comply. If any sign described under § 375-50C(1) has not been removed upon the expiration of the fourteen-day notice period, the record owner of the property and/or the party or parties responsible for display of the sign shall be in violation of this chapter. Each sign displayed in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate violation. The Zoning Officers shall issue the citation directly to the parties responsible, if feasible, and file the citation at the office of the Magisterial District Justice of the City. Upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding before the Magisterial District Justice, a fine shall be imposed of not less than $75 and no more than $300, for each violation.
(3) 
Appeal to Zoning Hearing Board. In the event the Zoning Officers issue or file a citation on the grounds that a sign is prohibited under Article VIII, and the party cited challenges the validity of the ordinance or the Zoning Officers' interpretation thereof, that party may appeal the validity or interpretation to the Zoning Hearing Board within 30 days after the filing of the citation. Notice of this right shall be stated by the Zoning Officers on the notice and citation issued.
D. 
Changes on signs. Lawfully existing signs may be painted, repaired or changed in message without issuance of a new permit under this chapter, provided that the changes do not increase the sign area, otherwise conflict with this chapter, or expand a prior nonconformity.

§ 375-51 Nonconforming signs.

Signs legally existing at the time of enactment of this chapter which do not conform to the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance shall be considered nonconforming signs. An existing lawful nonconforming sign may be replaced with a new nonconforming sign, provided that the new sign is not more nonconforming in any way than the old sign.

§ 375-52 Miscellaneous signs not requiring permits.

The following signs[1] shall be permitted by right within all zoning districts within the following regulations and shall not be required to have a permit under this article. Unless otherwise stated, each sign listed below shall have a maximum height of 10 feet.
[1]
Editor's Note: The table of sign requirements is included at the end of this chapter.

§ 375-53 Freestanding, wall and window signs.

A. 
The following[1] are the signs permitted on a lot within the specified district and within the following regulations, in addition to exempt signs and temporary signs permitted in all districts by other provisions of this article. See definitions of the types of signs in § 375-60.
[1]
Editor's Note: The table of sign requirements is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
Maximum height of wall signs. The maximum height of wall signs shall be equal to the total height of the building to which they are attached.
C. 
Portable signs.
(1) 
Purpose. These standards recognize portable signs as a particular type of sign that has the characteristics of a temporary sign but that has been inappropriately used as a permanent sign. This section is based on the policy that if a use desires to regularly display a sign for regularly changing messages, that it erect a permanent sign within all of the requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
Definition of a portable sign.
PORTABLE SIGN
A freestanding sign that is attached to a chassis that allows it to be towed from one location to another or that can be transported on a flatbed truck and that is not permanently attached to a building or the ground.
(3) 
A portable sign, including any such sign that may have been displayed prior to the adoption of this chapter and which does not have a lawful permit as a permanent sign, shall only be permitted if it meets all of the following requirements:
(a) 
Shall be permitted only on the lot of a permitted principal commercial use.
(b) 
Shall have a maximum sign area of 40 square feet on each of a maximum of two sides.
(c) 
Shall only include one sign per principal use or per lot, whichever is more restrictive.
(d) 
Shall need a sign permit, which shall state the dates during which the sign may be displayed.
(e) 
Shall only be displayed on a lot for one period per year, which shall not exceed 30 days during a calendar year. Failure to remove the sign after the 30 days shall constitute a zoning violation.
(f) 
Shall not obstruct safe sight distance to vehicles within or off the lot; shall not be placed within the existing street right-of-way.
(g) 
Shall not include flashing or blinking lights.

§ 375-54 Abandoned or outdated signs.

Signs advertising a use no longer in existence (other than a sign relating to a building that is clearly temporarily vacant and being offered to new tenants or for purchase) shall be removed within 180 days of the cessation of such use.

§ 375-55 Location of signs.

The following shall regulate the location of signs:
A. 
Setback from streets. No sign except official signs, nameplate signs, public service signs and directional signs shall be erected within or project over any existing or established future street right-of-way.
B. 
Sight distance. No sign shall be so located or arranged that it interferes with the sight distance requirements of § 375-64 or safe sight distances for vehicles within a lot. Signs in a location that may reduce sight distance shall have a minimum clearance of three feet above the ground, except for structural posts.
C. 
Off-premises. No signs except permitted off-premises, official, political or public service signs shall be erected on a property to which it does not relate.
D. 
Setbacks from lot lines. A freestanding sign for a commercial or industrial business shall not be located within 20 feet of the lot line of a residential lot line. A sign is not required to meet setback requirements for accessory structures.
E. 
Permission of owner. No sign shall be posted on any property or sign pole or public utility pole, unless permission has been received by the owner.
F. 
Utility poles. No sign shall be stapled or nailed to a utility pole, except by an authorized utility. See also § 375-58G.

§ 375-56 Illumination of signs.

A. 
See § 375-42, Glare.
B. 
Times of illumination. It is strongly encouraged that signs within 200 feet of a dwelling or a residential district not be illuminated between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

§ 375-57 Vehicles functioning as signs.

Any vehicle or structure to which a sign is affixed in such a manner that the carrying of such sign or signs no longer is incidental to the primary purpose of the vehicle or structure but becomes a primary purpose in itself shall be considered a freestanding sign and as such shall be subject to requirements for freestanding signs in the district in which such vehicle or structure is located.

§ 375-58 Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited in all zoning districts:
A. 
Spinners or any moving object used to attract attention to a commercial use.
B. 
Flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated or moving signs of any type, except time and temperature signs. This restriction specifically includes window signs, but does not prohibit holiday lighting or displays, within § 375-52.
[Amended 4-21-2010 by Ord. No. 3-2010]
C. 
Signs which emit smoke, visible vapors or particles, sound or odor.
D. 
Signs which contain information that states or implies that a lot may be used for any purpose not permitted under the applicable provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Signs that are of such character, form, shape or color that they imitate or resemble any official traffic sign, signal or device or that have any characteristics which are likely to confuse or distract the operator of a motor vehicle on a public street (such as prominent use of the words "Danger" or "Stop").
F. 
Signs or displays that include words or images that are obscene, pornographic or that an average reasonable person would find highly offensive to public decency.
G. 
Signs attached by tacks, staples or other metal fasteners to utility poles.

§ 375-59 Construction of signs.

Every permanent sign permitted in this section shall be constructed of durable materials and shall be kept in good condition and repair. The Zoning Officer shall by written notice require a property owner or lessee to repair or remove a dilapidated or unsafe sign within a specified period of time. If such order is not complied with, the City may repair or remove such sign at the expense of such owner or lessee.

§ 375-60 Measurement and major types of signs.

A. 
Sign definitions. The following definitions shall be used in determining whether signs meet the measurement and type requirements of this article:
BUILDING FACE
The vertical area of a particular side of a building, including the vertical area in front of any slanted roof.
FREESTANDING SIGN
A sign which is self-supporting upon the ground or which is primarily supported by poles attached to the ground and not primarily supported by a building.
HEIGHT OF SIGN
The vertical distance measured from the average ground level surrounding a sign to the highest point of the sign and its supporting structure. Religious symbols, when not accompanied by lettering, shall not be restricted by the sign heights of this article.
ILLUMINATED SIGN, INTERNALLY
A sign illuminated by light from within the sign rather than a source adjacent to or outside of the sign. A sign within a display case with lights only shining onto the front of the sign shall be considered to be externally illuminated.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
See Article II.
SIGN
See Article II.
WALL SIGN
A sign primarily supported by or painted on a wall of a building and which does not project more than two feet from such wall.
WINDOW SIGN
A sign which is readily visible and can be at least partially read from an exterior lot line and which is attached to a window or transparent door or that can be read through a window or transparent door.
B. 
Measurement of sign area.
(1) 
Sign area shall include all lettering, wording and accompanying designs and symbols, together with related background areas on which they are displayed. One freestanding sign may include several signs that are all attached to one structure, with the total sign area being the total area of all signs on the structure.
(2) 
The sign area shall not include any structurally supporting framework, bracing or clearly defined wooden framing if such area does not include any display, lettering or sign and if such area is clearly incidental to the sign area itself.
(3) 
Where the sign consists of individual letters or symbols attached to or painted directly on a building or window, other than an illuminated background that is a part of the sign, the sign area shall be the smallest rectangle that includes all of the letters and symbols.
(4) 
In computing the permitted sign area of a sign with two sides, the permitted total sign area shall be based upon the sign area of only one side (the larger of any two if they differ).
(5) 
Unless otherwise specified, all square footages in regards to signs are maximum sizes.
C. 
Flags and banners are permitted, provided that any flag or banner having a commercial message shall be regulated the same as a sign.

§ 375-61 Off-premises signs (including billboards).

A. 
Purposes. Off-premises signs are controlled by this chapter for the following purpose: to ensure that a physical environment is maintained that is attractive to desirable types of development; to prevent visual pollution in the City and to protect property values, especially in consideration of the fact that most commercial areas of the City are within proximity to existing residences; to prevent glare on adjacent property and streets; to protect the open space and natural character of areas of the City; to avoid the creation of additional visual distractions to motorists, especially along the high-speed expressways and along busy arterial streets that involve complex turning movements, congestion and numerous traffic hazards; to recognize the numerous alternative forms of free speech available in the City, including existing nonconforming off-premises signs, on-premises signs and temporary signs and printed and electronic media; to recognize that this chapter allows every landowner a reasonable use for their land; to avoid off-premises signs that would have an unfair advantage over on-premises signs in the competition for attention, because off-premises signs typically are higher and larger than on-premises signs; to carry out the purposes listed in § 375-50.
B. 
Nonconforming off-premises signs. This section is not intended to require the removal of an existing lawfully placed off-premises sign that is in structurally sound condition.
C. 
Commercial and noncommercial. This section applies to both commercial and noncommercial off-premises signs except as may be specifically provided for elsewhere in this chapter.
D. 
PennDOT Sign. Signs erected and maintained by the PennDOT are permitted by right in all districts. Such signs that identify business services available at an interchange are specifically encouraged as an appropriate and orderly means of providing information without causing visual pollution or traffic hazards.
E. 
Based directly on the intent statements within this chapter, off-premises signs are only permitted if they meet the following requirements, except for signs not requiring a permit under § 375-52.
(1) 
District. An off-premises sign is only permitted in the commercial and industrial districts and shall require conditional use approval.
(2) 
Location. An off-premises sign is only permitted within a maximum of 200 feet of existing right-of-way of an arterial street and a minimum of 10 feet from any nonresidential lot line. Any off-premises sign shall be set back a minimum of 20 feet from all existing and future street rights-of-way. No off-premises sign shall be located within 200 feet of an existing residential lot line.
(3) 
Maximum sign area: 200 square feet.
(4) 
Spacing. Any off-premises sign shall be separated by a minimum of 1,500 feet from any other off-premises sign, including signs on either side of a street and including existing signs in other municipalities. No lot shall include more than one off-premises sign.
(5) 
Maximum height: 80 feet. See definition in § 375-60.
(6) 
Attached. No off-premises sign or sign face shall be attached in any way to any other off-premises sign. Off-premises signs shall have a maximum of two sign faces.
(7) 
Lighting and glare. No off-premises sign shall be illuminated.