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Borough of Columbia, PA
Lancaster County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Purposes. This article is intended to promote and maintain overall community aesthetic quality; establish reasonable time, place and manner of regulations for the exercise of free speech, without regulating content; promote traffic safety by avoiding distractions and sight distance obstructions; and protect property values and ensure compatibility with the character of neighboring uses.
B. 
Permit required. A zoning permit shall be required for all signs except for signs meeting the requirements of § 220-47, and nonilluminated window signs constructed of paper, cardboard or similar materials and that are not of a permanent nature. Only types, sizes and heights of signs that are specifically permitted by this chapter within the applicable district shall be allowed. Within the Historic District, the appearance of a sign may be required to be approved under Chapter 130, Historic District.
C. 
Changes on signs. Any lawfully existing sign (including nonconforming signs) may be painted or repaired or changed in logo or message without a new permit under this chapter provided that the changes do not increase the sign area or otherwise result in noncompliance or an increased nonconformity with this chapter.
A. 
Signs legally existing at the time of enactment of this chapter and which do not conform to the requirements of the chapter shall be considered nonconforming signs.
B. 
An existing nonconforming sign may only be replaced with a conforming sign, except a lawful nonconforming sign serving a lawful nonconforming principal use on the same lot may be replaced with a new sign advertising the nonconforming use if the new sign is not more nonconforming in any manner than the previous sign.
A. 
The following signs 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:
Type and Definition of Signs Not Requiring Permits
Maximum Number of Signs Per Lot
Maximum Sign Area Per Sign1 on Residential Lots
Maximum Sign Area Per Sign1 on Non- residential Lots
Other Requirements
Christmas tree sign: advertises the seasonal sale of Christmas trees.
2
8
30
Shall only be posted during seasons when such products are actively offered for sale.
Charitable event sign: advertises a special event held a maximum of 9 days in any calendar year that primarily is held to benefit a U.S. Internal Revenue Service certified tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
2
4
40
Shall be placed a maximum of 30 days prior to event and removed a maximum of 7 days after event.
Contractor's sign: advertises a building tradesperson, engineer or architect who is actively conducting significant work on a particular lot that is not such person's place of business.
2
8
40
Shall only be permitted while such work is actively and clearly underway and a maximum of 10 days afterward. Such signs shall not be placed on the lot for more than 1 year, unless a 1-year extension is granted by the Zoning Officer. Shall not be illuminated.
Directional sign: provides information indicating traffic direction, entry or exit, loading or service area, directions to apartment numbers or parking courts in a development, fire lanes, parking or closely similar information regarding the same lot as the sign is on, and that does not include advertising.
No maximum
3, in addition to signs painted on pavement
3, in addition to signs painted on pavement
Directional signs within a residential development shall not be illuminated.
Flag: a banner or pennant made of fabric or materials with a similar appearance that is hung in such a way to flow in the wind and that includes some type of commercial message.
2
50
50
Governmental flags and flags without a commercial message are not regulated by this chapter.
Garage sale sign: advertises an occasional garage sale/porch sale or auction.
2 per event
2 per sign
2 per sign
Shall be placed a maximum of 48 hours before permitted garage sale or auction begins, and be removed a maximum of 24 hours after event ends.
Home occupation sign: advertises a permitted home occupation.
1
2
2
Shall not be illuminated, except for a sign of a medical doctor. Shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the street right-of-way, unless printed on a mailbox. May be freestanding,  attached  flat on a building wall or within a window.
Identification sign: only identifies the name and/or occupation of the resident and/or the name, street address and/or use of a lot, but that does not include advertising.
1
1, except 2 for a principal nonresidential use
6
Maximum  height of  8 feet.
Open house sign: advertises the temporary and periodic open house of a property for sale or rent.
2 per event
4
4
Shall be placed a maximum of 5 days before open house begins, and be removed a maximum of 24 hours after open house ends. Such sign shall not be posted more than 5 consecutive days.
Political sign: advertises a person or party seeking political office or a political cause or opinion on a referendum or matter of political concern and which relates to a scheduled election or matter of upcoming vote by a governmental body.
No maximum
Maximum total of 30
Maximum total of 60
Shall be placed a maximum of 60 days prior to election, vote or referendum and removed a maximum of 7 days after such election, vote or referendum. Persons posting political signs shall maintain a written list of locations of such signs, unless posting signs on their own property. Political signs shall not be placed on private property without the prior consent of the owner. If a political sign does not meet these requirements, then it shall be regulated as an "off-premises sign."
Public services sign: advertises the availability of rest rooms, telephone or other similar public convenience.
No maximum
2
2
Real estate sign: advertises the availability of property on which the sign is located for sale, rent or lease.
1 per street the lot abuts
6
30
Shall only be placed on the property while it is actively for sale, lease or rent, and shall be rremoved a maximum of 7 days after settlement or start of lease.
Service organization/ place of worship sign: an off-premises sign stating name of a recognized incorporated service organization or place of worship and that states the place and times of meetings or services and/or an arrow directing persons to such location.
2
2
2
Maximum of 2 such signs per such organization or place of worship.
Time and temperature sign: with a sole purpose to announce the current time and temperature and any nonprofit public service messages.
1
Not permitted
30
Trespassing sign: indicating that a road is private, that trespassing is prohibited on a lot, or controlling certain activities such as hunting and fishing on the lot.
No maximum
2
4
1 NOTE: Maximum sign areas are for each of 2 sides of each permitted sign, measured in square feet.
B. 
In addition, the following types of signs are not regulated by this chapter:
(1) 
Historic sign: memorializes an important historic place, event or person and that is specifically authorized by the Borough or a county, state or federal agency.
(2) 
Holiday decorations: commemorates a holiday recognized by the Borough, county, state or federal government and that does not include advertising.
(3) 
Not readable sign: not readable from any public street or any exterior lot line.
(4) 
Official sign: erected by the state, county, Borough or other legally constituted governmental body, or specifically authorized by Borough ordinance or resolution, and which exists for public purposes.
(5) 
Required sign: only includes information required to be posted outdoors by a government agency or the Borough.
(6) 
Right-of-way sign: posted within the existing right-of-way of a public street and officially authorized by the Borough or PennDOT.
A. 
The following are the signs permitted on a lot within the specified districts 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 § 220-55.
Zoning District or Type of Use
Maximum Total Height of Freestanding Signs
Maximum Area of Wall Signs
Maximum Area of Window Signs
Maximum Area and Number of Freestanding Signs
P, C or residential districts for permitted principal nonresidential uses.
8 feet
20 square feet on each side of a principal building
May be used in place of a wall sign with the same restrictions
1 sign on each street the lot abuts, each with a maximum sign area of 20 square feet2
For home occupation signs, see § 220-47. No new signs in these districts shall be internally illuminated.
DC, RC, NC or MDRB Districts. No new freestanding signs in the DC, RC or MDRB Districts shall be internally illuminated.
8 feet
10% of the area of the building side on which the signs are attached.1
Temporary nonilluminated window signs are not regulated. Other window signs are regulated under wall signs.
1 sign per street that the lot abuts, each with a maximum area of 20 square feet2
All districts not listed above
20 feet
15% of the area of the building side on which the signs are attached
Temporary nonilluminated window signs are not regulated. Other window signs are regulated under wall signs.
1 sign per street that the lot abuts, each with a maximum area of 50 square feet2, 3
NOTES:
1 In the DC, MDRB and RC Districts, one projecting sign may also be permitted per lot, provided such sign meets minimum clearance over the sidewalk as provided in the Building Code, is constructed entirely from wood or materials with a closely similar appearance (and metal fasteners), has a maximum sign area on each of 2 sides of 8 square feet, and is securely attached to the building.
2 If the permitted freestanding sign area is not used, such sign area may be added to the permitted wall sign area.
3 If a lot includes 6 or more principal uses, then the maximum freestanding sign area may be increased to 80 square feet.
B. 
Maximum height of wall signs. The maximum height of wall signs shall be equal to the top of the roof along the wall to which they are attached.
C. 
Portable signs (including signs on mobile stands) and other temporary 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) 
Definitions. As used in this subsection, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
PORTABLE SIGN
A freestanding sign that is attached to a chassis or legs that allows it to be towed or carried from one location to another and that is not permanently attached to the ground.
(3) 
Portable signs are prohibited in all districts, except for charitable event signs permitted by § 220-47.
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.
The following shall regulate the location of signs:
A. 
Setbacks.
(1) 
A sign shall not project over any existing street right-of-way, except for permitted projecting signs within the DC, RC and MDRB Districts.
(2) 
A freestanding illuminated sign for a commercial or industrial business (except in the DC District) shall not be located within 10 feet of an abutting lot line of a lot that only includes one dwelling unit.
(3) 
These setbacks shall not apply to official signs, nameplate signs, public service signs and directional signs.
B. 
Sight distance. No sign shall be so located that it interferes with the sight distance requirements of § 220-59.
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. 
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.
E. 
Utility poles. No sign shall be attached to a utility pole using metal fasteners, except by a utility or government agency.
See "light and glare control" in Article V.
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.
The following signs are prohibited in all zoning districts:
A. 
Any moving object used to attract attention to a commercial use. Flags and banners except as is permitted by § 220-47 and except for flags or banners meeting the requirements for a particular type of sign.
B. 
Flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated or moving signs of any type, except time and temperature signs may flash. In addition, flashing lights visible from a street shall not be used to attract attention to a business. This restriction specifically includes window signs, but does not prohibit Christmas lighting or displays, within § 220-47.
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").
F. 
Signs or displays visible from a lot line that include words or images that are obscene or pornographic.
G. 
Balloons of greater than 25 cubic feet that are tethered to the ground or a structure for periods of over a day and that are primarily intended for advertising purposes.
H. 
Floodlights and outdoor lasers for advertising purposes.
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 Borough may repair or remove such sign at the expense of such owner or lessee.
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, but not including the area 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 when attached to a tower or spire of a place of worship.
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 area of a common geometric form that could encompass all signs.
(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) 
The maximum sign area of sign shall be for each of two sides of a sign, provided that only one side of a sign is readable from any location.
(5) 
Unless otherwise specified, all square footages in regards to signs are maximum sizes.
A. 
Purposes. Off-premises signs are controlled by this chapter for the following purposes, to: ensure that a physical environment is maintained that is attractive to desirable types of development, especially light industrial and office parks; prevent visual pollution in the Borough and protect property values, especially in consideration of the fact that most commercial areas of the Borough are within close proximity to existing residences; prevent glare on adjacent property and streets; avoid the creation of additional visual distractions to motorists, especially along busy arterial streets that involve complex turning movements and numerous traffic hazards; recognize the numerous alternative forms of free speech available in the Borough, including existing nonconforming off-premises signs, on-premises signs and temporary signs and printed and electronic media; carry out the purposes listed in § 220-45.
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. 
PennDOT sign. Signs erected and maintained by PennDOT are permitted by right in all districts.
D. 
Permitted off-premises signs. An off-premises sign is only permitted if it meet the following requirements:
(1) 
District. An off-premises sign is only permitted in the HC District.
(2) 
Location. An off-premises sign shall be set back a minimum of 25 feet from all lot lines and street rights-of-way.
(3) 
Maximum sign area: 300 square feet.
(4) 
Spacing. Any off-premises sign shall be separated by a minimum of 1,200 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: 25 feet above the elevation of the adjacent street, measured at the street center line.
(6) 
Attached. No off-premises sign or sign face shall be attached in any way to any other off-premises sign, except that a sign may have two sign faces of 150 square feet each if they are placed approximately back to back.
(7) 
Control of lighting and glare. See standards in § 220-38.
(8) 
Residences. No off-premises sign greater than 10 square feet in sign area shall be located within 200 feet of an existing dwelling.
(9) 
Condition. The sign shall be maintained in a good and safe condition. The area around the sign shall be kept free of debris.