City of Warren, PA
Warren County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 3-22-1982 by Ord. No. 1329; 7-11-1983 by Ord. No. 1358; 3-19-1984 by Ord. No. 1379; 9-23-1985 by Ord. No. 1422; 12-12-1988 by Ord. No. 1491; 5-18-1989 by Ord. No. 1549; 12-8-1997 by Ord. No. 1622; 1-8-2001 by Ord. No. 1656; 1-17-2011 by Ord. No. 1796; 11-17-2014 by Ord. No. 1851]
From the effective date of this article, any sign erected shall conform to the provisions of this article and any other ordinance(s) or regulations of the City of Warren that relate to it.
See Article XVI of this chapter.
The following restrictions and regulations shall be applicable to all signs unless otherwise specified:
A. 
Materials. All signs, excluding awning and window signs, shall be constructed only from wood, metal, stone, or other material as determined by the City which has the general appearance of structures composed primarily of wood, metal or stone with painted, engraved or raised messages. Sign materials should complement the original construction materials and architectural style of the building facade on which they are to be displayed. If plywood is used, medium density overlay shall be used as a minimum grade. Bare plywood is prohibited.
B. 
Color. In selecting the principal colors for a sign, colors that compliment the color of the building should be used.
C. 
Illumination.
(1) 
Light sources shall be shielded from all adjacent properties and streets and shall not be of such intensity as to cause glare distracting to pedestrians or motorists.
(2) 
Each display of internally illuminated changing display signs must be static and activated for a minimum of 30 seconds. Scrolling signs are permitted.
(3) 
Permits for illuminated signs will not be issued without an approved electrical permit.
D. 
Electrical connections. The electrical supply to all exterior signs, whether to the sign itself or to lighting fixtures positioned to illuminate the sign, shall be provided by means of concealed electrical cables. Electrical supply to freestanding signs shall be provided by means of underground cables. Applications for electrical permits shall be filed at the time of the sign permit application.
E. 
Nuisance. No sign shall create a public nuisance by emitting smoke, sound, vapor, beams or rays, particle emissions, or odors.
F. 
Sign removal. Any business that has closed shall remove any signs associated with the business within 60 days after it closes. The owner of the premises shall have the responsibility to ensure such signs are removed within the sixty-day period.
G. 
No sign or sign structure shall be erected unless it complies with all applicable requirements of the City of Warren Building Code.
H. 
All signs and sign structures shall be kept in good repair and in a presentable condition, so that all sign information is clearly legible. Any sign found by the Zoning Officer to show deterioration, including rust, faded colors, discoloration, holes, and missing parts or informational items, shall constitute a violation of this article.
I. 
No sign or structure shall be placed in the public right-of-way except for permitted sandwich boards, projecting signs, and civic event signs as provided for in this article.
J. 
Supplemental signs shall not exceed 25% of the total allowable sign square footage.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to erect any sign in the City of Warren unless it is specifically permitted in this article. Unlawful signs include, but are not limited to:
A. 
Any sign which by color, shape, or location conflicts with or resembles a traffic signal device.
B. 
Signs attached to rocks, utility poles, parking meters, traffic signposts, traffic signals or control devices, street signs, or historical markers.
C. 
Signs attached to trees, shrubs or any living vegetative matter.
D. 
Signs erected without the permission of the property owner or authorized agent.
E. 
Signs that create a hazard by obstructing the clear view of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
F. 
Animated, changing display, and scrolling signs within the Historic District.
G. 
Any sign that obstructs free ingress to or egress from a required door, window, fire escape, or other required exit.
H. 
Vehicular signs on vehicles parked in the same location in excess of 30 days.
I. 
Abandoned signs.
J. 
Signs that exhibit statements, words, or pictures of an obscene or pornographic nature.
K. 
Beacon lights.
L. 
Pennants longer than 150% of the street frontage of the premises.
Unless otherwise provided by this article, all signs shall require permits and payment of fees as described in § 470-59. No permit is required for the maintenance of a sign or for a change of copy on a legally conforming painted, printed, or changeable copy sign. For the purposes of this section, "maintenance" shall include any repainting of a sign that does not otherwise change its message or appearance.
The following signs shall be allowed without a sign permit and shall not be included in the determination of the number or sign area of other signs allowed within a zoning district, subject to the restrictions in § 470-59.
A. 
Government/regulatory signs.
B. 
Real estate signs.
C. 
Political signs.
D. 
Public interest signs.
E. 
Memorial signs.
F. 
Yard sale signs.
G. 
Address signs.
H. 
Interior signs.
I. 
Incidental signs.
J. 
Civic event signs on premises.
K. 
Personal expression signs.
L. 
Pennants as permitted in this article. Pennants may only be used on nonresidential premises.
M. 
Artisan signs.
N. 
Home-based business signs smaller than two square feet.
O. 
Supplemental signs.
The following signs shall be allowed as permitted by City Council:
A. 
Murals.
B. 
Marquee signs. City Council shall ensure the proposed sign is appropriate to the style, period, type, size, and scale of the building for which it is proposed. Council shall weigh testimony from other property owners in the vicinity regarding the merits of the sign. Council shall weigh whether the sign will enhance the traditional town character of Warren or detract from it in determining whether the sign shall be permitted.
Signs on the premises of legally nonconforming uses, such as an office in a residential area, may remain until the existing use of the premises is discontinued. If a sign wears out or is damaged, or is changed for any other reason, the number, size and area of all signs relating to the premises shall not be increased beyond the size they were at the time this article was adopted.
A. 
If a legally nonconforming sign lists more than one business, new businesses may be added without affecting the nonconforming status of the sign. However, the sign may not be altered in any way that extends the sign's nonconformity in any manner.
B. 
Nothing in this article shall relieve the owners or users of legally nonconforming signs, or the owners of the property on which legally nonconforming signs are located, from any provisions of this article regarding the safety, maintenance, and repair of signs.
C. 
Should 50% or more of any legally nonconforming sign be damaged by any means, it shall be removed and not reconstructed except in conformity with the provisions of this article.
D. 
Any business that has closed shall remove any signs associated with the business within 60 days after it closes. The owner of the premises shall have the responsibility to ensure such signs are removed within the sixty-day period.
E. 
The existence of a legally nonconforming sign on a single- or multiple-occupancy premises shall not prevent the erection or placement of another sign on the premises, if the new sign meets the requirements of this article. However, the total number of signs and the size and area of the signs shall not exceed the requirements of this article.
F. 
A legally nonconforming sign shall immediately lose its legally nonconforming designation if the sign message or appearance is altered in any way. At that time the sign shall be immediately brought into compliance with this article and a new permit secured, or the sign shall be removed.
G. 
City Council may determine that a sign existing before this article was enacted which is nonconforming, but is not a serious detractor to the City's character, may be conditionally accepted as legally nonconforming.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to erect, alter, repair, or relocate any sign within the City of Warren without first obtaining a sign permit, unless the sign is specifically exempt from the permit requirements.
B. 
Applications for sign permits shall be made upon forms provided by the Zoning Officer and shall contain and/or have attached the following information where relevant:
(1) 
Name, address, telephone number and signature of the owner or duly authorized agent for the property owner.
(2) 
Name, address, telephone number and signature of the owner of the sign.
(3) 
Name, address and telephone number of the sign contractor.
(4) 
Property address and applicable zoning district.
(5) 
Two copies of a plan drawn to scale depicting:
(a) 
Lot dimensions, building frontage, and existing cartways, rights-of-way, and driveways.
(b) 
The design of each sign face and sign structure, including dimensions, total area, sign height, depth, color scheme, structural details, materials, lighting scheme, and proposed location.
(c) 
Sign message.
(d) 
Building elevations, existing and proposed facades, parapet walls, cornices, and the location and size of all proposed and existing permanent signage.
(e) 
Current photographs showing existing signs on the premises and certifying the date on which photographs were taken.
C. 
A permit fee, to be established from time to time by resolution of City Council, shall be paid.
D. 
Such other information which may be required by the Zoning Officer to show full compliance with this and all other ordinances of the City.
Zone
Purpose
Form
Restrictions/ Guidelines
R-1
Home occupation
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, nonilluminated, name and address of occupant, attached to building. Maximum 2 square feet.
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of closing on the sale of property. Maximum 6 square feet per side of sign.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of completion of the project. Maximum 16 square feet per side of sign.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum 4 square feet per side of sign.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.
R-2
Home occupation
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, nonilluminated, name and address of occupant; attached to building. Maximum 2 square feet.
Rooming house
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source; 4 square feet.
Bed-and-breakfast
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source; 4 square feet.
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source; 10 square feet per side.
Convalescent homes
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum 4 square feet
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 16 square feet
Gallery
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Museum
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Philanthropic institutions
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 16 square feet.
Private or parochial schools
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 16 square feet per side with a maximum of 2 sign faces.
Public/semipublic uses
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of closing on the sale of property. Maximum of 6 square feet per side of sign.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of completion of the project. Maximum of 16 square feet per side of sign.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.
R-3
Home occupation
Wall Sign
Maximum 1 sign, nonilluminated, name and address of occupant; attached to building. Maximum of 2 square feet.
Rooming houses
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Bed-and-breakfast
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Freestanding
Maximum 1 sign with a maximum of 2 faces; illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 10 square feet.
Convalescent homes
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Gallery
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Museum
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Philanthropic institutions
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Private or parochial schools
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Public/semipublic uses
Wall
Maximum 1 sign, illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source. Maximum of 4 square feet.
Permitted offices
Wall
Maximum 1 sign; 6 square feet in area on 1 side; may have a separate support not more than 4 feet in height and at least 5 feet from the street right-of-way or property line.
Temporary
Maximum of 6 square feet per side.
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of closing on the sale of property. Maximum 6 square feet per side of sign.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed within 72 hours of completion of the project. Maximum of 16 square feet per side of sign.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum of 6 square feet.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.
C-1
The total area of all signs for one business shall not exceed the total area permitted under "wall sign."
Wall Sign
4 square feet for each lineal front foot of building up to 30 lineal feet; 3 square feet for each lineal front foot in excess of 30 lineal feet up to 100 lineal feet; 2 square feet for each lineal front foot in excess of 100 feet.
Sign regulations shall apply to each side of a building facing on more than 1 street. Area calculations are not aggregate and shall be applied to each side of a building
Freestanding
Maximum height of 25 feet and maximum total area of 1 side, excluding base, frames and support, of 75 square feet; total of all faces may not exceed 150 feet. Base, supports and sign shall be located entirely within the property lines of the business for which the sign was erected.
Projecting
Maximum 72 inches into public right-of-way but not more than 72 inches from building to which it is attached and no closer than 4 feet from curb. Maximum area of 24 square feet per side; maximum total area of all sides not to exceed 48 square feet per sign. Lower edge shall be at least 10 feet from ground.
Temporary
Maximum of 10 square feet per side.
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon sale of property. Maximum of 16 square feet per side.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon completion of the contract. Maximum of 16 square feet per side.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum of 16 square feet per side.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.
Gallery
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Museum
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
C-2
The total area of all signs for one business shall not exceed the total area permitted under "wall signs."
Wall sign
4 square feet for each lineal front foot of building up to 30 lineal feet; 3 square feet for each lineal front foot in excess of 30 feet up to 100 lineal feet; 2 square feet for each lineal front foot in excess of 100 feet.
Sign regulations shall apply to each side of a building facing on more than one street.
Freestanding
Maximum height of 25 feet and maximum total area of 1 side, excluding base, frames and support, of 75 square feet; total of all faces may not exceed 150 square feet. Base, supports and sign shall be located entirely within the property lines of the business for which the sign was erected.
Area calculations are not aggregate and shall be applied to each side of a building
Projecting
Maximum 72 inches into public right-of-way; no more than 72 inches from building; no closer than 4 feet from curb. Maximum area of 24 square feet per side; maximum total area of all sides not to exceed 48 square feet. Lower edge shall be at least 10 feet from ground.
Temporary
No limit on the size of an individual temporary sign as long as the allotted square footage for signs of the business is not exceeded by this and other signage.
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon sale of property. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon completion of the contract. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.
Gallery
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
Museum
Wall
Maximum 1 sign illuminated indirectly by a hooded light source or backlit. Maximum of 50 square feet.
M-1
Freestanding
The size of signs in the M-1 Industrial District shall not be limited. Maximum of 35 feet in height.
Projecting
Do not extend over the right-of-way; shall be subject to the requirements of freestanding signs in the M-1 district.
Real estate
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon sale of property. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Contractor
Temporary
Must be removed immediately upon completion of the contract. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Special event
Temporary
Erected for a period not to exceed 4 weeks. Maximum of 32 square feet per side.
Church
For church or other permitted public use, regulations of the district in which a sign is located shall be in effect except that the size of a permanent sign or bulletin board may be a maximum of 16 square feet.