Borough of Ridley Park, PA
Delaware County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The Borough recognizes that signs perform an important function in identifying properties, businesses, services, residences, events, and other matters of public interest. It is the intent of this article to:
A. 
Set standards and provide controls that permit reasonable use of signs and enhance the character of the Borough.
B. 
Encourage sign design that builds on the traditional town image and visual environment that the Borough seeks to promote.
C. 
Avoid excessive competition for large or multiple signs, so that permitted signs provide identification and direction while minimizing clutter, unsightliness, confusion, and hazardous distractions to motorists.
D. 
Protect against hazards to traffic and pedestrian safety.
Any sign hereafter erected shall conform to the provisions of this article and any other ordinance or regulations of the Borough relating thereto. Any sign not specifically authorized by the provisions of this article shall not be erected in the Borough.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to erect, alter, rebuild, enlarge, extend, or relocate signs listed in § 213-99, Signs for which a permit is required, without first obtaining a permit from the Borough, except for those signs listed in § 213-95, Exempt signs.
B. 
Application for such permits shall be made in writing to the Borough in accordance with § 213-97.
C. 
The Zoning Officer is hereby authorized to revoke any permit issued by the Borough upon failure of the holder thereof to comply with any provision of this article.
The following restrictions and regulations shall be applicable to all signs unless otherwise specified:
A. 
All signs, excluding awning and window signs, shall be constructed only from wood, metal, stone, or other material as determined by the Borough 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. 
In selecting the principal colors for a sign, colors that complement the color of the building should be used.
C. 
Where permitted, signs shall be illuminated only in accordance with the following regulations as authorized in an appropriate sign permit:
(1) 
Light sources shall be shielded from all adjacent properties and streets and shall not be of such intensity as to cause glare hazardous to pedestrians or motorists.
(2) 
Signs using internal illumination shall be designed so that when illuminated at night, only the letters and logos of the sign are visible. Individual, solid letters with internal lighting tubes which backlight a wall in a halo effect are permitted.
(3) 
Permits for illuminated signs will not be issued without an approved electrical permit. All work shall be completed in full compliance with the Electrical Code as set forth in the most recently published Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 73, Building Construction, Art. I, Administration and Enforcement of Uniform Construction Code.
(4) 
No illuminated sign shall be lighted on days when the business or permitted use is not open for business.
(5) 
Internally illuminated signs are not permitted in Historic Districts.
D. 
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 same time as the sign permit application.
E. 
No sign shall create a public nuisance by emitting smoke, sound, vapor, beams or rays, particle emission, or odors.
F. 
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 that 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 Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 73, Building Construction, Art. I, Administration and Enforcement of Uniform Construction Code.
H. 
All signs and sign structures shall be kept in good repair and in presentable condition so that all sign information is clearly legible. Any sign found by the Zoning Officer to show deterioration, rust, faded colors, discoloration, holes, and missing parts or informational items shall constitute a violation of this article.
I. 
Except for official/traffic, directional, and incidental signs, no sign shall be erected within the right-of-way lines of any public street, and no sign shall be closer than six feet to the right-of-way line of a public street, unless specifically authorized by other ordinances and regulations of the Borough of Ridley Park or other governmental bodies or agencies having jurisdiction or regulatory authority in the matter.
J. 
All permanent signs over four square feet in size shall be constructed by a professional sign company.
K. 
Except for official signs, incidental signs, directional signs, wayfinding signs, or billboards, all permanent signs shall be located on the property to which the text or message applies.
L. 
Freestanding pole signs.
(1) 
The bottom or lowest edge of any freestanding pole sign shall be no closer to the ground than seven feet. Not more than two feet above the ground level can be devoted to and maintained for plantings. If such plantings are installed, they shall be maintained at the maximum height of two feet and shall be free of weeds, debris, and other undesirable material.
(2) 
The maximum height of such signs shall be 20 feet in residential and the C-1 Districts and 35 feet in all other districts measured from grade level, unless specifically stated otherwise in regulations for a particular district.
(3) 
All single-post pole signs shall be made of metal, except for those used in residential districts which may be made of pressure-treated timbers. All such posts shall be embedded in the ground at least three feet six inches unless otherwise directed by the Zoning Officer.
(4) 
Freestanding pole signs will be permitted in residential areas only when set back a minimum distance of six feet behind the front property line, and no portion of such sign shall be less than six feet behind the front property line.
(5) 
There shall be a distance of not less than 100 feet between freestanding pole signs along the same road frontage.
M. 
Freestanding ground signs.
(1) 
The top edge of a ground sign shall be a maximum of six feet above ground level.
(2) 
Ground signs shall be supported and permanently placed by embedding, anchoring, or connecting the sign in such a manner as to incorporate it into the landscape or architectural design scheme.
(3) 
The setback shall be as required for freestanding pole signs in Subsection L above.
(4) 
Illumination shall be by concealed or indirect lighting.
N. 
Window signs. A maximum of 20% of the total window area may be used for permanent signs that are etched, painted, or permanently affixed to the window. Neon signs in a window shall have a maximum of 10% coverage or eight square feet, whichever is less.
O. 
Temporary signs.
(1) 
The use of any temporary sign, except for signs exempt by § 213-95, shall require a permit that shall be effective for not more than 30 days.
(2) 
Such signs shall not obstruct access to or from any door, window, fire escape, or ventilating equipment nor be attached to any standpipe or fire escape.
(3) 
Temporary signs shall be removed immediately upon expiration of the permit.
(4) 
The size of these signs shall not exceed 1/3 square foot of sign area for each linear foot of building width.
(5) 
Temporary commercial advertising signs shall not be attached to fences.
(6) 
After expiration of a thirty-day period for the temporary sign permit, the applicant may apply for another such permit. However, not more than four such permits for a temporary sign shall be issued to the same applicant within any twelve-month period.
P. 
Awning signs and canopy signs.
(1) 
A permit shall be obtained from the Zoning Officer for the erection, repair, or replacement of any awning sign or canopy sign, following a review by the Planning Commission.
(2) 
Awning signs and canopy signs shall be designed and constructed to withstand wind or other lateral loads, and live loads as required by the Uniform Construction Code,[3] with due allowance for shape, open construction, and similar features that receive the pressure and loads.
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 73, Building Construction, Art. I, Administration and Enforcement of Uniform Construction Code.
(3) 
All awning signs shall have a minimum clearance of seven feet from the sidewalk to the lowest part of the metal framework of any awning, except that the bottom of the valance of canvas awnings shall have a minimum clearance of six feet nine inches above the sidewalk.
(4) 
Retractable or fixed awnings are permitted to project up to four feet into a public right-of-way, provided that they meet clearance requirements and are no closer than one foot to a curbline.
(5) 
No post of any canopy sign is permitted within a public right-of-way.
(6) 
All awnings and canopies shall have totally opaque covering material.
(7) 
Lettering delineating the name of the establishment only and logos shall be permitted only on the face of the awning or canopy that is parallel to the building facade.
Q. 
Real estate "for sale" or development signs. Signs that advertise real estate for sale shall not exceed 16 square feet in residential districts and 30 square feet in nonresidential districts. Such signs shall be removed from the property in question not less than seven days after the date of settlement.
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 vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
F. 
Animated signs.
G. 
Any sign that obstructs free ingress to or egress from a required door, window, fire escape, or other required exit.
H. 
Vehicular signs.
I. 
Abandoned signs.
J. 
Flashing signs.
K. 
Revolving signs.
L. 
Tethered balloons, filled either by gas or heated air.
M. 
Roof signs.
N. 
Wall signs that cover windows or architectural detail.
O. 
Banners longer than 150% of the street frontage of the premises.
P. 
Signs with reflective backgrounds.
The following signs to the extent indicated are exempt from the requirements of this article, from the need to secure permits, and from the allowable sign area requirements, except as specified below in this section:
A. 
Official signs posted in the strict performance of lawful governmental functions, such as roadway signs indicating route number, street name, traffic, and parking.
B. 
Small signs not exceeding two square feet that are necessary for traffic movement on private property.
C. 
Memorial or historic markers where approved by the Historical and Architectural Review Board or the Planning Commission.
D. 
Small temporary signs, provided that:
(1) 
The size of any such sign shall not exceed four square feet.
(2) 
Up to three temporary signs shall be allowed on any parcel without a permit so long as their aggregate square footage does not exceed 10 square feet.
(3) 
Nameplate signs on private residences, provided that they do not exceed one square foot.
A. 
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.
B. 
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.
C. 
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 area of the signs shall not exceed the requirements of this article.
D. 
A legally nonconforming sign shall immediately lose its legally nonconforming designation if the sign is altered in any way. At that point, the sign shall be immediately brought into compliance with this article and a new permit secured or the sign shall be removed.
E. 
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.
F. 
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.
Unless otherwise provided by this article, all signs shall require permits and payment of fees as described in this section. 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.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to erect, alter, repair, or relocate any sign within the Borough of Ridley Park 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]
[1]
Editor's Note: So in original.
C. 
A permit fee, to be established from time to time by resolution of Borough Council, shall be paid.
D. 
The Borough shall process all sign permit applications within 30 days of the Borough's receipt of an application and upon remittance of the appropriate sign permit fee. The Zoning Officer shall give notice to the applicant of his/her decision by hand delivery or by mailing such notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address on the permit application on or before the 30th day. If the decision of the Zoning Officer is to deny the application, the decision shall state the grounds upon which the denial is based. Failure of the Borough to act within the thirty-day period shall be deemed an approval of the permit.
In addition to all other requirements of this article, the following regulations shall be applicable to any sign placed in an Historic District:
A. 
No sign shall be erected or altered until an application for a certificate of appropriateness has been reviewed and approved by the Ridley Park Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB) and after Borough Council has issued a certificate of appropriateness. The HARB shall ensure that the proposed sign is appropriate:
(1) 
Regarding the style, period, type, size, and scale of the building for which it is proposed.
(2) 
Regarding consistency with other signs in the district.
(3) 
All applications for a certificate of appropriateness must contain the following information:
(a) 
A current color photograph of the property.
(b) 
An illustration of the building facade showing the proposed sign.
(c) 
A scaled drawing showing the sign itself and including the size, materials, colors, lighting, lettering, and method of attachment. Material samples may be required.
(d) 
For ground signs, a site plan indicating the location of the sign.
(e) 
The type of illumination.
The following signs and no other are permitted in the respective districts, provided that they meet all applicable requirements of this article.
A. 
Signs in residential districts.
(1) 
Identification signs for apartment buildings, townhouse developments, churches/religious uses, and similar permitted uses other than individual dwellings, provided that:
(a) 
The type of sign permitted shall be wall and freestanding ground signs only.
(b) 
The size of any such sign shall not exceed 16 square feet; however, in the R-3 District, 24 square feet is permitted.
(c) 
Ground signs shall have a maximum height of six feet.
(d) 
Not more than one sign shall be permitted for each permitted use or structure unless such premises fronts on two streets, then no more than two signs, one on each street, shall be permitted.
(e) 
No such sign shall be illuminated except by concealed or indirect lighting attached to the sign itself.
(2) 
Permanent signs for public or private schools, religious uses, and other nonresidential uses, provided that:
(a) 
These signs shall be wall signs and freestanding signs; however, changeable copy shall be permitted for schools and churches, temples, etc.
(b) 
The size of any such sign shall not exceed 24 square feet.
(c) 
Not more than one sign shall be permitted for each permitted use or residential structure unless such premises fronts on two streets, then no more than two signs, one on each street, shall be permitted.
(d) 
No such sign shall be illuminated except by concealed or indirect lighting attached to the sign itself.
(3) 
Signs identifying nonresidential nonconforming uses, provided that they meet the same requirements as Subsection A(1) above.
(4) 
Signs identifying residential professional offices, provided that such sign shall not exceed 12 square feet.
(5) 
Nameplate signs which do not exceed two square feet. Also see § 213-95, Exempt signs, above.
B. 
Signs in the C-1 Commercial District.
(1) 
Any sign permitted in residential districts.
(2) 
Wall signs, projecting signs, freestanding ground signs, freestanding pole signs, awning signs, and canopy signs.
(3) 
Maximum sign dimensions:
(a) 
Wall signs and awning signs: one square foot of sign area for each foot of building width with a maximum of 30 square feet.
(b) 
Freestanding signs (ground signs and pole signs): 16 square feet.
(c) 
Projecting signs and canopy signs: 10 square feet.
(4) 
Not more than three types of permitted signs shall be permitted on any one premises, provided that the combined area of these signs shall not exceed 50 square feet.
C. 
Signs in the C-2 Commercial District.
(1) 
Any sign permitted in residential districts or the C-1 District.
(2) 
Wall signs, projecting signs, freestanding ground signs, freestanding pole signs, awning signs, and canopy signs.
(3) 
Maximum sign dimensions:
(a) 
Wall signs and awning signs: one square foot of sign area for each foot of building width with a maximum of 50 square feet.
(b) 
Freestanding signs (ground signs and pole signs): 24 square feet.
(c) 
Projecting signs and canopy signs: 16 square feet.
(4) 
Not more than three types of signs shall be permitted on any one premises, provided that the combined area of these signs shall not exceed 70 square feet.
D. 
Signs in the Medical Campus District.
(1) 
Any sign permitted in residential districts or the C-1 District.
(2) 
Wall signs, projecting signs, freestanding ground signs, freestanding pole, awning signs, and canopy signs.
(3) 
Maximum sign dimensions:
(a) 
Wall signs and awning signs: 60 square feet.
(b) 
Freestanding signs (ground signs and pole signs): 50 square feet.
(c) 
Projecting signs and canopy signs: 20 square feet.
(d) 
For buildings that have a front width of 100 feet or more, two wall signs shall be permitted on that frontage. In this case, a special exception shall be required. In this case, the maximum sign area of such wall signs combined shall not exceed 100 square feet.
(e) 
Not more than three types of the above noted signs shall be permitted on any one premises, provided that the combined area of these signs shall not exceed 120 square feet.
E. 
Signs in the interstate fronting civic use district. Same as in the Medical Campus District, provided that billboards are permitted, subject to § 213-100.
F. 
Signs in the parks and open space district. Same as in the C-1 Commercial District, provided that no sign shall be illuminated except by concealed or indirect lighting attached to the sign itself or on the ground directed upwards at the sign. The intent is to protect adjacent residential areas from impacts of light or glare.
G. 
Signs in the Industrial District.
(1) 
Wall signs, freestanding ground signs, and freestanding pole signs.
(2) 
Maximum sign dimensions:
(a) 
Wall signs: one square foot of sign area for each foot of building width with a maximum of 75 square feet.
(b) 
Freestanding signs (ground signs and pole signs): 50 square feet.
(3) 
For buildings that have a front width of 100 feet or more, two wall signs shall be permitted on that frontage. In this case, a special exception shall be required. In this case, the maximum sign area shall not exceed one 125 square feet.
(4) 
Not more than two types of signs shall be permitted on any one premises, provided that the combined area of these signs shall not exceed 150 square feet.
A. 
The Borough has considered the need for the promotion of local and county businesses, organizations, and events to the motoring public on Interstate 95, which abuts a small portion of the Borough. In light of this need, the Borough will allow the installation of one Borough- or county-owned billboard to be located in the C-1 Commercial Zoning District abutting Interstate 95. Such billboard may be operated by a third party for general commercial purposes, but must also have availability for community announcements. The following requirements shall apply to the billboard:
[Amended 9-20-2011 by Ord. No. 1198]
(1) 
The billboard will be allowed to have a gross surface area no greater than one 1,200 square feet.
(2) 
The billboard shall be set back not less than 120 feet (measured by radial spacing) from any residential zoning district. Distance made horizontally in all directions from the sign's face.
(3) 
The billboard structure shall have a maximum height above the grade at the sign base of 120 feet.
(4) 
It shall be located within 200 feet of the right-of-way of Interstate 95.
(5) 
The design and configuration shall include changeable message technology and shall comply with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a general outdoor advertising sign or billboard.
(6) 
It shall not display any obscene material.
(7) 
It shall not emit noise.
(8) 
The billboard shall not be mounted on a roof, wall, or face or other part of a building or any other structure, including trees.
(9) 
External illumination of any and all sign faces on the billboard shall be shielded to prevent the light source from being seen from adjacent or nearby residential properties, streets, or sidewalks.
B. 
All billboard standards herein shall exist in full force and effect in conjunction with all sign standards existing in the most recent edition of the International Construction Code (ICC), as amended. Whenever any conflict exists between this chapter and the ICC, the more restrictive provisions shall have precedence.
Off-premises signs shall be permitted to be affixed or attached to the walls of bus shelters.