City of Fredericksburg, VA
 
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[Amended 2-11-2014 by Ord. No. 14-01; 5-13-2014 by Ord. No. 14-17; 11-14-2017 by Ord. No. 17-22]
The purpose and intent of this section is to establish reasonable regulations on the size, height, area, bulk, location, erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, razing, and removal of signs and the structures to which they are affixed. The section applies to signs that are visible from the public rights-of-way and those visible across property boundaries. These regulations are intended to protect public health and safety, safeguard the public nature and uses of the rights-of-way, preserve the scenic and natural beauty of the City, and foster a community image that promotes economic growth, all within the bounds of the United States Constitution.
A. 
All signs shall comply with all provisions of this chapter, all applicable provisions of the Building Code, and all state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to the display of signage.
B. 
No sign, unless exempted by § 72-59.3, shall be erected, constructed, posted, painted, altered, or relocated:
(1) 
Except as provided in this section; and
(2) 
Until a sign permit has been issued.
C. 
Before a sign permit is issued, an application for a certificate of zoning use and a certificate of appropriateness, as well as any building or electrical permits required by the City, if applicable, must be approved.
D. 
A sign permit is void if any sign for which the permit was issued is not installed in accordance with the permit, and all fees paid, within six months of the date the permit was issued, unless the Zoning Administrator, within the Administrator's sole discretion, grants a permit extension. The City may revoke a sign permit if:
(1) 
The City determines that the information in the application was materially false or misleading;
(2) 
The sign as installed does not conform to the sign permit application; or
(3) 
The sign violates the zoning ordinance, building code, or other law or regulation.
E. 
The owner of any sign, other than a permitted off-premises sign, located on commercial property where the use or business has ceased operating shall, within 60 days of the cessation of use or business operation, replace the sign face with a blank face until a use or business has resumed operating on the property.
The signs listed in this section are allowed without a sign permit. However, any general requirements for a certificate of zoning use, certificate of appropriateness, building permit, or electrical permit still apply. All prohibitions in § 72-59.4 still apply. All regulations applicable to particular zoning districts still apply.
A. 
Signs of a duly constituted governmental body.
B. 
Up to four square feet of building-mounted signage within six feet of any building entrance. This signage shall not be illuminated in R and PD-R districts.
C. 
Flags of up to 40 square feet.
D. 
Address numbers signs that are not larger than one square foot in R and PD-R districts; and not larger than two square feet in all other districts.
E. 
Seasonal displays and decorations.
F. 
Temporary signs:
(1) 
On property with an active building permit: one sign, up to six square feet in area, and up to six feet in height if freestanding, in any R and PD-R districts; or 32 square feet, and eight feet in height if freestanding, in any other district.
(2) 
On a property for sale or rent: one sign, up to six square feet in area, and six feet in height if freestanding, in any R and PD-R districts; or 32 square feet in area, and eight feet in height if freestanding, in any other district.
(3) 
Beginning 60 days before a federal, state, or local primary, general, or special election, and ending 10 days after that election: in addition to any other signs permitted by this article, up to 32 square feet of signage in area, up to eight feet in height.
G. 
Permanent ground or building-mounted signs of up to two square feet when adjacent to parking lot entrances and exits and parking spaces.
H. 
Normal maintenance and repair of a conforming sign.
I. 
Change of advertised copy on a variable message board sign or marquee designed and approved for replaceable copy.
J. 
Public art.
K. 
Signs that are illegible because their physical attributes do not allow for the differentiation of words, letters, figures, designs, symbols, or logos by an observer with 20/20 vision located in the public right-of-way, on public property, or across a property boundary.
L. 
Any sign applied directly and entirely to and flush with an asphalt, concrete, or similar paved surface.
M. 
Any sign within a building, if the sign does not display animation, flashing or intermittent lights, or lights changing degrees of intensity, have message changes that are on less than an eight-second cycle, and if the sign is not in motion by any means, unless otherwise prohibited by § 72-59.
All signs and sign structures that are not specifically exempted or permitted by § 72-59 are prohibited, specifically including:
A. 
Signs that violate any provision of United States or Virginia law.
B. 
Signs that obstruct a door, fire escape, or building opening intended for light, air or access to a building.
C. 
All signs, pennants, streamers, floating and stationary balloons, strings of flags, sail/feather signs, inflated devices, and signs held by a person that are in motion by any means, including fluttering or rotating.
D. 
Signs displaying animation, flashing or intermittent lights, or lights changing degrees of intensity, including electronic variable message signs except as otherwise permitted in § 72-59.5, Design standards.
E. 
Signs that obscure a governmental sign, and signs likely to be mistaken for governmental signs.
F. 
Signs that are likely to cause a pedestrian or vehicular traffic hazard.
G. 
Temporary signs, except as specifically permitted by § 72-59.8, Banners.
H. 
Signs that are structurally unsafe.
I. 
Portable signs.
J. 
Signs that emit smoke, flame, scent, mist aerosol, liquid, gas, or sound (other than a customer/business employee intercom).
K. 
Any sign displayed on a stationary or moving motor vehicle or trailer when the vehicle or trailer is used primarily for the purpose of and serving the function of a portable sign, except when the vehicle or trailer is not parked adjacent to a public road or is loading or unloading.
L. 
Signs representing or depicting specified sexual activities, specified anatomical areas, or sexually oriented goods, and signs containing obscene text or pictures as defined by the Code of Virginia.
M. 
Off-premises advertising signs, except as specifically permitted by § 72-59 or another section of the City Code.
N. 
Roof signs.
O. 
Signs erected on public property, including rights-of-way, other than those approved by an authorized City official in writing, required by law, or permitted under Code of Virginia, § 24.2-310. These signs may be immediately removed and disposed of by any authorized official. Removal of the sign under this provision does not preclude prosecution of the person responsible for the sign.
P. 
Any sign or illumination that causes any direct glare into or onto any building other than the building to which the sign is located.
Q. 
Any sign, except official notices, which is nailed, tacked, posted or in any other manner attached to any pipe or utility pole, whether on public or private property of any description, or to any natural vegetation.
R. 
Any sign which extends above the zoning district height limits.
S. 
Any exterior permanent lighting either by exposed tubing or strings of lights, either outlining any part of a building or affixed to any architectural feature thereof.
The following regulations apply to all signs permitted or exempted under § 72-59:
A. 
Electronic Variable Message Signs.
[Amended 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-23]
(1) 
Shall only be permitted in the PD-C Zoning District, except that:
(a) 
Signs permitted under § 72-59.6A(2) for the stacking lanes of accessory drive-through uses may use electronic variable message displays.
(b) 
Signs permitted under § 72-59.6A(2) in association with gasoline sales uses that are located on properties fronting on U.S. Route 1, Virginia Route 2 (south of the Blue Gray Parkway), and Virginia Route 3 (west of U.S. Route 1) may use electronic variable message displays.
(2) 
Shall be limited to freestanding signs.
(3) 
No more than 40% of permitted sign area may be an electronic variable message display, except that:
(a) 
Up to 100% of permitted sign area for signs permitted under § 72-59.6A(2) in association with a drive-through accessory use may be electronic variable message displays.
(b) 
Up to three areas, each up to 15 inches in height and 36 inches in width, of signs permitted in association with a gasoline sales use under § 72-59.6A(2) may be electronic variable message displays.
(4) 
Changes in display shall alternate on a not-less-than-eight-second cycle, except that signs permitted under § 72-59.6A(2) in association with a drive-through accessory use or gasoline sales use shall change no more than once per hour. Changes shall be instantaneous with no animation effects, including blurring, fading, wiping, or scrolling. All electronic variable message signs, regardless of current cycle time, shall conform to this subsection within one year of the date this section is adopted.
(5) 
As part of the sign permit application, the display manufacturer shall submit a letter certifying that the proposed sign will be programmed to meet the code requirements upon installation and that all programmed compliance features will be locked from future alteration.
(6) 
Displays shall be turned off during a major failure or malfunction.
B. 
Freestanding signs:
(1) 
Freestanding signs shall be set back a distance no less than half their height from any property or right-of-way line.
(2) 
Freestanding signs shall be set back a distance no less than their height from any existing freestanding sign.
C. 
Illumination. The following applies to all illuminated signs:
(1) 
External lights of any technology may be installed, directed solely at the sign in a manner that does not illuminate surrounding areas, or signs may be illuminated by any technology with a brightness not exceeding the maximum illumination levels shown in § 72-58.2D.
(2) 
The illumination of signs within 300 feet of and visible from residential districts or PD-R shall be turned off at 10:00 p.m. or within one hour after the closing of the business, whichever is later, and shall be turned on no sooner than one hour before the business opens.
A. 
Residential, Planned Development-Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Districts.
(1) 
Building-mounted signs are permitted as follows:
[Amended 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-23]
Building-Mounted Signs
Zoning District
Residential and planned development-residential
Commercial
Industrial
Maximum area
0.5 square feet per linear foot of building front (up to 50 square feet)
1.5 square feet per linear foot of building front (up to 200 square feet per building side)
1.5 square feet per linear foot of building front (up to 200 square feet per building side)
Illumination
No
Yes
Yes
Maximum projection
42 inches from wall
42 inches from wall
42 inches from wall
Minimum clearance if projecting more than 6 inches
8 feet above pedestrian travel way, 15 feet above vehicle travel path
Other
Only permitted for nonresidential uses permitted as a principal use.
Each building containing a commercial use in C-D may have additional building-mounted signage advertising off-premises nonresidential uses, of up to 4 square feet per off-premises use and up to 16 square feet total.
Three or more businesses that are not adjacent to an arterial or collector road may jointly erect 1 freestanding sign off-site, which shall not exceed 10 feet in height and 100 square feet in area. The sign shall be located within 1,000 feet of the businesses being advertised and be on property zoned I-1 or I-2.
(2) 
Freestanding signs are permitted as follows:
[Amended 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-23]
Freestanding Signs
Zoning Districts
R
C-T
C-D
C-SC
C-H
I-1
I-2
Maximum Number
Per parcel per street frontage
1, for non- residential uses permitted as a principal use
1
1
N/A
1
1
1
Per gasoline sales use
N/A
N/A
1
1
1
1
1
Per major entrance to an office park or retail center
N/A
1
N/A
1
1
N/A
N/A
Per major entrance to a shopping center
N/A
N/A
N/A
1
N/A
N/A
N/A
Per major entrance to an industrial park
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
1
Per major entrance to a neighbor- hood
2
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Flagpole per parcel
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Maximum Sign Area
(square feet)*
For each sign adjacent to a public street right-of-way > 70 feet
20
40
40
100
100
100
100
For each sign adjacent to a public street right-of-way < 70 feet
10
30
30
75
75
75
75
For gasoline sales uses
N/A
N/A
25
25
25
25
25
For major entrances listed above, adjacent to a public street right-of-way > 70 feet
20 each
60
N/A
100
100
N/A
100
For major entrances listed above, adjacent to a public street right-of-way < 70 feet
20 each
40
N/A
75
75
N/A
N/A
* Flag area counts toward maximum sign area.
Maximum Height
(feet)**
General
5
5
5
20
20
20
20
For major entrances listed above, adjacent to a public street right-of-way > 70 feet
5
10
N/A
20
20
N/A
20
For major entrances listed above, adjacent to a public street right-of-way < 70 feet
5
8
N/A
20
20
N/A
N/A
** Permitted flagpole height is equal to maximum permitted building height as defined by Article III.
Illumination
For each sign adjacent to a public street right-of-way > 70 feet
Yes, only by direct white lighting illuminat- ing the face of the sign
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
For each sign adjacent to a public street right-of-way < 70 feet
N/A
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Other
Two signs are permitted for each stacking lane of an accessory drive-through use. The signs shall not be included in calculating the number of freestanding signs or in calculating the total aggregate sign area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 30 square feet in area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 15 square feet in area. Signs shall be installed within 10 feet of the drive-through lane.
B. 
Planned Development Districts. A signage design package is required for all signs in PD-C, PD-MU, PD-MC Districts that will have multiple land uses or multiple development phases.
(1) 
The Zoning Administrator may approve minor amendments to a signage design package. The Zoning Administrator has the sole discretion to determine whether an amendment to a package is minor.
(2) 
Signage design package review process.
(a) 
The applicant shall submit a signage design package for approval by the Zoning Administrator with either the final site design for the first phase of development or before construction of the first phase of lot or site development.
(b) 
The Zoning Administrator shall review the proposed signage design package within 60 days. The package may be returned to the applicant for changes or modifications. A changed or modified package that addresses departmental comments and is resubmitted shall be approved or denied within 45 days. The applicant may file an appeal of the Zoning Administrator's decision to the BZA.
(3) 
A signage design package:
(a) 
Shall contain only signs with consistent colors and fonts (excepting business logos), lighting, and construction materials.
(b) 
May contain any types of signs that the Zoning Administrator deems to be consistent with the overall planned development district.
(c) 
Specify the types of materials proposed for construction or use on the project's various signs. Sign poles, supports, panels, attachments, lettering and visible base materials must be identified. Individual purchasers or lessees of project property may select sign materials for their individual signs where the package so allows.
(4) 
Upon approval of the signage design package by the Zoning Administrator, all new signs within the boundaries of the PD-C, PD-MU, or PD-MC project shall adhere to the standards of the approved signage design package.
(5) 
All signage design packages shall be in conformance with all sign permit requirements of § 72-59.
(6) 
In addition to the general signage design package regulations, the regulations in this section apply to signs in all PD-C districts.
(a) 
PD-C development projects will be permitted the following signs:
[1] 
A freestanding sign not to exceed 1,000 square feet in sign panel area or 175 feet in height, which may be illuminated.
[2] 
A monument sign at a major entrance 52 feet in width. The sign shall not exceed 60 feet in height (excluding architectural treatments). The sign shall not exceed 200 square feet, except that up to 30 users in the development may each have up to 130 additional square feet of space on the monument sign as an off-premises sign.
[3] 
A monument sign at each existing major intersection at the boundary of the parcel, not to exceed 15 feet in height and 250 square feet in sign area.
(b) 
Individual parcels within a PD-C may be permitted:
[1] 
Building signs of up to one square foot for each linear foot of building perimeter, up to 200 square feet of signage per building side.
[2] 
A monument sign up to 10 feet high and 100 square feet in area. A monument sign identifying more than one user may be up to 150 square feet in area.
[3] 
An off-premises monument sign up to 10 feet high and 100 square feet in area if the subject of the sign is on a site or lot of at least 100,000 square feet that does not abut a four-lane major thoroughfare, and the sign is located within 300 feet of the subject.
[4] 
Two signs are permitted for each stacking lane of an accessory drive-through use. The signs shall not be included in calculating the number of freestanding signs or in calculating the total aggregate sign area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 30 square feet in area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 15 square feet in area. Signs shall be installed within 10 feet of the drive-through lane.
[Added 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-23]
(7) 
In addition to the general signage design package regulations, the regulations in this section apply to signs in all PD-MU and PD-MC districts.
(a) 
Commercial, industrial, or retail properties housing one or more tenants may not exceed 1.5 square feet of sign area for each linear foot of building frontage. No total sign area, including the area of any freestanding sign, may exceed 200 square feet in area.
(b) 
Freestanding signs for commercial, industrial, or retail properties may not exceed 15 feet in height.
(c) 
Two signs are permitted for each stacking lane of an accessory drive-through use. The signs shall not be included in calculating the number of freestanding signs or in calculating the total aggregate sign area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 30 square feet in area. One sign is limited to six feet in height and 15 square feet in area. Signs shall be installed within 10 feet of the drive-through lane.
[Added 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-23]
A. 
Historic Districts. In addition to the general regulations of § 72-59, the regulations in this section apply to signs in all the Old and Historic Fredericksburg District:
(1) 
All signs to be located in the Old and Historic Fredericksburg District shall be approved by the Architectural Review Board in accordance with the provisions of the HFD Overlay District. The ARB may regulate the area, height, placement, materials, color, lighting, graphics, lettering, and architectural styling of signs, consistent with applicable guidelines.
(2) 
Electronic variable message signs are prohibited in all historic districts.
B. 
Gateway Overlay Districts. In addition to the general regulations of § 72-59, all signs to be located in Gateway Overlay Districts shall be approved by the Zoning Administrator in accordance with the provisions of this overlay district. The Zoning Administrator may regulate the area, height, placement, materials, color, lighting, graphics, lettering, and architectural styling of signs, consistent with applicable guidelines.
(1) 
Cowan Boulevard Corridor and Fall Hill Avenue Corridor subdistricts.
(a) 
Each site or development shall have an overall signage plan reviewed as part of a sign permit, including a consistent style, size, and color scheme for all signs on the property.
(b) 
Materials used in both sign and support structures shall complement the building being served by the sign.
(c) 
The only signage allowed within the streetscape buffer in C-SC, C-H, and C-T districts is one sign, which shall be ground-mounted, monument-style, and not more than 10 feet in height or more than 60 square feet in surface area.
(d) 
Sign illumination shall be by direct white lighting or backlighting with a diffuse light source. Direct white lighting shall be shielded so that it does not spill over into adjacent properties or into motorists' eyes. Backlighting is permitted for signs with dark opaque backgrounds, if light shines through only the letters, characters, or graphics of the sign.
(e) 
All sign colors shall be compatible and shall be consistent with the color, scale, and style of the building or site.
(f) 
Ground-mounted, monument-style signs shall include landscaping around the base of the sign. The sign base shall be counted in the ten-foot height limit set forth in this section and shall not exceed 30% of the overall sign height.
(2) 
Electronic variable message signs are prohibited in the Lafayette Boulevard Corridor Overlay District along Lafayette Boulevard and the Princess Anne Street Corridor Overlay District along Princess Anne Street.
Banners are permitted subject to the following:
A. 
Banners shall be building-mounted. A maximum of one banner may be displayed at any one time. The area of the banner is limited to 50% of the aggregate area of permitted permanent building signage or 40 square feet, whichever is less.
[Amended 5-28-2019 by Ord. No. 19-22]
B. 
Each permitted banner shall be displayed for no more than 30 consecutive days, and each display shall be separated by a period of not less than 30 days. No property shall display a banner more than four times in any calendar year.
C. 
Temporary signs shall be located on the same property as the sponsoring business or organization.