City of Hagerstown, MD
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hagerstown 1-12-1999 by Ord. No. 1999-1[1]. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Auctions and special sales — See Ch. 52.
Building construction — See Ch. 64.
Land management — See Ch. 140.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 204, Signs, adopted as Ch. 34, §§ 34-4 and 34-5, of the 1967 Code, as amended.
This chapter shall hereinafter be known and cited as the "Sign Ordinance."
A. 
There is a significant relationship between the manner in which signs are displayed and the public safety and the value and economic stability of enjoining property. The reasonable display of signs is necessary as a public service and necessary in order to conduct competitive commerce and industry.
B. 
The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum standards for signs within the City of Hagerstown to further traffic safety, to encourage the effective use of signs as a means of communication, to maintain and enhance the aesthetic environment and the City's ability to attract sources of economic development and growth, to minimize the possible adverse effects of signs on nearby public and private property and to enable the fair and consistent enforcement of this chapter.
Unless otherwise expressly stated or the context clearly indicates a different intention, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings indicated in this section:
BILLBOARD
A freestanding outdoor advertising structure.
FACE
The surface of any sign upon, against, or through which the message is displayed or illustrated on said sign.
FREESTANDING
Any structure not permanently affixed or attached to a building or other permanent improvement.
LOT
Any piece or parcel of land or a portion of a subdivision that is recorded in the land records of Washington County, Maryland.
OFF-PREMISES ADVERTISING SIGN
Any sign, billboard or other structure which is not located on the premises that it identifies or advertises. Any sign, billboard or other structure which displays multiple messages and includes at least one message which identifies or advertises anything off of the premises upon which the said sign is located.
OUTDOOR ADVERTISING STRUCTURE
Any building or structure which contains a sign, poster, panel, billboard, painted or electronic bulletin, or any other structure, device or surface display which advertises a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment or event, or displays any other message conducted, sold or offered elsewhere than on the premises where the outdoor advertising structure is located.
PORTABLE SIGN
Any sign not permanently affixed to the ground.
SIGN
Any structure, display or device that is arranged, intended, designed or used as an advertisement, announcement, identifier, description, or direction to attract the public's attention.
It shall be unlawful for any person to erect and thereafter maintain within any residential zoning district of the City any billboard or sign, with the following exceptions:
A. 
Real estate signs. Real estate signs erected temporarily for the purpose of advertising the sale or rental of only the premises or a portion of the premises upon which they are located provided that if any such sign is erected, it shall be removed as soon as it has served its purpose, that is, immediately upon the sale or the rental of such premises or portion thereof, and provided, further, that no such sign shall exceed eight square feet in area. This exception is not intended to permit the erection of signs advertising the rental of rooms for temporary lodging to tourists or other transients, the erection and maintenance of which signs are hereby expressly prohibited.
B. 
Professional nameplates. Professional nameplates not exceeding one square foot in area.
C. 
Signs and bulletin boards. A sign or bulletin board not exceeding 12 square feet in area, so placed as not to interfere with or obstruct the view across any intersecting street and erected upon the premises of a church or charitable institution for the purpose of displaying the name and activities hereof or the service to be held therein.
D. 
Governmental signs. Signs of any size or shape erected by or under the direction of any governmental body or agency in any location for purpose of promotion, identification, direction, safety or convenience of the public.
E. 
Subdivision identification. Permanent subdivision identification signs which do not exceed 20 square feet in surface area per face, limited to two faces, not exceeding one per main entrance and set back 15 feet from the curbline.
F. 
Development signs. Temporary development signs advertising the sale or rental or structures which have a maximum surface area of 60 square feet, limited to two faces, maximum height of 15 feet, indirectly illuminated, and set back 25 feet from the street line.
G. 
Construction signs. Temporary construction signs limited to one each for contractors, architects, financing, etc., nonilluminated and set back 15 feet from the street line, and permitted only while construction is in progress or for such time as may be required by federal requirements for financing for extending advertising.
H. 
Historic signs. Memorial tablets or signs and historical markers, flags and insignias of bona fide civic, charitable, fraternal and welfare or religious organizations and national flags and flags of political subdivisions of the United States.
I. 
Political signs. One or more political campaign signs which, in the aggregate, do not exceed a total of 32 square feet in area, on any privately owned lot. Each such sign shall be erected and maintained in compliance with all applicable election laws.
J. 
Nonbusiness signs. Nonbusiness signs which are not outdoor advertising structures as defined by § 204-3 of this chapter may be erected for a period not to exceed 90 days in any calendar year by or for the owner or lawful occupant of any lot or structure which said signs, in aggregate, do not exceed a total of six square feet in area, nonilluminated. Such signs must be set back at least 10 feet from the curbline on any lot or fixed to an occupied dwelling, structure or building, except where such dwelling, structure or building is located less than 10 feet from the curb and in that event the setback is the lesser of 10 feet or the distance between the dwelling structure or building and the curbline.
A. 
No off-premises advertising sign which was not in existence on the effective date of this chapter shall be permitted within the City limits of the City of Hagerstown, unless said sign is in compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Any off-premises advertising sign existing outside of the City limits immediately prior to annexation, which is subsequently annexed into the City limits, shall be considered to have existed on the effective date of this chapter.
B. 
No increase in size or height, or relocation of an existing off-premises advertising sign shall be permitted after the effective date of this chapter, unless in compliance with this chapter.
C. 
No off-premises advertising sign in existence on the effective date of this chapter, that is illegal or otherwise violative of any law, ordinance or regulation, shall be deemed lawful merely as a result of its compliance with this chapter. This chapter is in addition to, and does not supersede, any existing law, ordinance or regulation that may be applicable.
D. 
It shall be unlawful for any person, partnership, corporation or other entity to own, construct or maintain an off-premises advertising sign within the City limits of the City of Hagerstown without first obtaining a permit for such off-premises advertising sign and remitting the required permit fee. A permit is required for each off-premises advertising sign, regardless of size or type. No permit shall be issued unless the off-premises advertising sign is in compliance with the standards, restrictions and requirements of this chapter. This permit requirement shall not be applicable to any off-premises advertising sign in existence on the effective date of this chapter, except upon replacement thereof.
E. 
All permit applications for off-premises advertising signs shall be filed with the building inspector and shall state the following:
(1) 
The name and address of the owner of the off-premises advertising sign and the name and address of the owner of the property on which the said sign is or will be located.
(2) 
A statement that the off-premises advertising sign is or will be constructed in accordance with all applicable state and City regulations, including the building and electrical codes in effect at the time of construction.
(3) 
The approximate location of the off-premises advertising sign and the approximate location of buildings on the property where the said sign is or will be located.
(4) 
The size, height, setback, type and number of faces on each off-premises advertising sign.
(5) 
The date of the construction of the off-premises advertising sign and the company number, state permit number and building permit number, if any.
F. 
Any off-premises advertising sign which has not been issued a permit from the building inspector and the requisite permit fee paid shall be removed within 60 days of written notification by the building inspector to the owner of said sign or landowner upon which the off-premises advertising sign is located.
G. 
The permit issued for each off-premises advertising sign will be displayed on the molding, trim or base on the lower right corner of each off-premises advertising sign in a manner to be readable from the ground. Each permit shall contain the name of the owner of the said sign, the current address and phone number of the owner and the voltage of any electrical apparatus used.
H. 
The permit fee for each off-premises advertising sign shall be established and specified by the Mayor and City Council from time to time.
The following standards shall apply to all off-premises advertising signs which are constructed after the effective date of this chapter and to existing off-premises advertising signs which are replaced entirely or are reconstructed, repaired or modified such that the cost of such reconstruction, repair or modification exceeds 50% of the current replacement cost of said sign.
A. 
Not more than one off-premises advertising sign shall be allowed per lot and no new off-premises advertising sign shall be located within 500 feet of any existing off-premises advertising sign, regardless of the number of lots in between. This restriction shall not be applicable to any off-premises advertising sign in existence on the effective date of this chapter when said sign is being replaced, reconstructed, repaired or modified.
B. 
All off-premises advertising signs shall be set back not less than 25 feet from the right-of-way line of all streets. This setback line restriction shall not be applicable to any off-premises advertising sign in existence on the effective date of this chapter when said sign is being replaced, reconstructed, repaired or modified.
C. 
No off-premises advertising signs shall be located within 100 feet of a City residential zoning district, and if illuminated, within 500 feet of a City residential zoning district. This restriction shall not be applicable to any off-premises advertising sign in existence on the effective date of this chapter when said sign is being replaced, reconstructed, repaired or modified.
D. 
No off-premises advertising sign face shall exceed a total of 300 square feet in surface area including trim, nor shall it contain more than one message per face, except for complementary or joint messages.
E. 
No more than two faces are permitted per off-premises advertising sign. All off-premises advertising signs with two faces shall have the two faces placed back to back.
F. 
Each off-premises advertising sign shall be framed with trim work, which shall be no smaller than six inches and no larger than one foot in width.
G. 
No off-premises advertising sign face shall exceed a vertical dimension of 14 feet nor a total horizontal dimension of 25 feet.
H. 
No off-premises advertising sign shall exceed 30 feet in height.
The following landscaping requirements shall apply to all freestanding off-premises advertising signs which are constructed after the effective date of this chapter and to existing freestanding off-premises advertising signs which are replaced entirely or are reconstructed, repaired or modified such that the cost of such reconstruction, repair or modification exceeds 50% of the current replacement cost of said sign.
A. 
A landscape strip of an area equal to or greater than the surface area of a sign face and at least as long as the sign length shall be located immediately adjoining the supporting structure on each face side of the sign.
B. 
Eight feet in height.
(1) 
For all signs exceeding eight feet in height, a hedge or other durable planting with a minimum height being no less than that which places the top of the durable planting within 12 inches of the bottom of the sign face, and attaining a height equal to the bottom of the sign face within four years after planting, is to extend the entire length of the required landscape strip.
(2) 
For all signs up to eight feet in height, a perennial ground cover is to extend the entire length of the required landscape strip. Common grasses shall not satisfy this requirement.
C. 
For all signs exceeding 15 feet in height, two flowering trees shall be placed within the required landscape strip.
D. 
Single faced structures with the rear viewable from a public right-of-way or other public property shall have equally spaced evergreen trees planted in the rear of the structure. The number of trees shall be equal to two, or the number of supporting members of the structure, whichever is greater. The reverse side of the sign shall be a one earthtone color.
E. 
Existing or alternative landscaping materials may be utilized to meet the requirements of this subsection provided that they substantially comply with the standards specified herein.
All off-premises advertising signs, structures, faces and landscaping shall be kept in good repair and properly painted and maintained in a skillful and reasonable manner. All lighting and illumination will be oriented toward the ground. All new off-premises advertising signs constructed after the effective date of this chapter shall be in compliance with the provisions of this chapter, building code, electrical code and any applicable City laws, ordinances or regulations.
A. 
Regardless of whether any such sign was in existence on the effective date of this chapter, the following off-premises advertising signs are specifically prohibited:
(1) 
Portable signs with changeable message boards.
(2) 
Any signs which include lights which flash, blink or turn on or off intermittently, with the exception of time and temperature displays.
(3) 
Rooftop signs.
(4) 
Signs on or attached to stationary equipment such as semitruck trailers where signing is the apparent principal use of the equipment on either a temporary or permanent basis.
B. 
Any such sign existing on the effective date of this chapter shall be permitted to exist in its present location for a period of five years from the effective date of this chapter.
A. 
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Building Inspector and all appeals shall be taken as if from the City Building Codes.[1] Enforcement actions shall be prosecuted against the owner of an off-premises advertising sign and/or the owner of the property on which the off-premises advertising sign is located.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 64, Building Construction.
B. 
Any owner of a sign or landowner upon which a sign is located whose sign does not display the required permit as provided for in this chapter, or who otherwise violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a municipal infraction. Pursuant to Article III, Chapter 1, of the City Code, each day the sign exists without a permit or in violation of this chapter shall be a separate offense.
C. 
The fine for a violation of this chapter shall be $100 for each initial violation, and $200 for each day thereafter that the violation continues.
All provisions of this chapter shall be in full force and effect on and after the effective date of this chapter.