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Sign Ordinance

Please see below for the City of Irondale’s Sign Ordinance. To apply for a sign permit please click here and complete the fillable application.

Section 5:22—Sign regulations.

Section 5:22-1—Purpose and scope.

The purpose of this section is to establish regulations for the erection and maintenance of signs. It is determined that, while signs are a proper commercial use of private property in certain areas of the city and under certain zoning classifications and are entitled to the protection of the law, such signs should be reasonably regulated in the interest of the public safety and welfare and to safeguard and promote the aesthetic quality of the city by the establishment of standards for the number, size, height, spacing and illumination of such signs.

The regulations herein contained shall govern all signs presently existing or hereafter erected or displayed, but shall neither waive nor repeal additional requirements of other applicable ordinances not inconsistent herewith. However, these requirements shall not apply to signs necessary to the discharge of governmental functions, such as traffic control signals and devices, street signs, public notices and various court or postal requirements.

Section 5:22-2—Definitions.

For the purposes of this section the following words, terms and phases shall have the meaning ascribed to them as specified herein. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense shall include the future tense, words in the plural number shall include the singular number, and words in the singular number shall include the plural number.

  1.  Areas of special aesthetic concern.

Any area of the city established by resolution of the city council (as a community renewal project area, a commercial revitalization project area, a neighborhood revitalization and improvement project area, an urban renewal and urban redevelopment project area and the downtown master plan project area; and also, historic districts, scenic corridors, and community business districts) wherein city policy is seeking to upgrade both the quality and amount of private investment through public support and wherein the improvement of aesthetic quality is a principle factor for the general welfare.

  1.  Back-to-back signs.

Signs erected with faces oriented in opposite directions and separated by no more than four feet.

  1.  Illuminated sign.

A sign illuminated by the following types of lighting:

  1.  Indirect. A sign reflecting light from a separate outside source aimed toward it.
  2.  Direct. A sign emitting light from a source within or affixed to the sign face, and beaming outward from it.
  3.  Intermittent. A sign containing any flashing light, including arrangements that spell messages, simulate motion or form various symbols or images.
  4.  Maintenance.

Any cleaning, painting, copy changes, poster panel replacements, or bulb replacement, which does not alter the basic design, structure, size or electrical service to the sign.

  1.  Monument sign.

A permanent sign mounted on the ground in such a manner that the sign face is attached to the ground either directly or in a landscaped setting wherein the bottom edge of the sign face shall be less than four feet above the ground level.

  1.  Off-premise sign.

Any permanent sign which directs the attention of the general public to a business, service, product or activity not conducted, offered or sold as a major portion of business upon the premises where such sign is located. None of the following shall be deemed an off-premise sign:

  1.  Directional and other official signs authorized by law.
  2.  Signs advertising the sale or lease of property upon which they are located.
  3.  On-premise signs.
  4.  On-premise sign.

A permanent sign erected upon, and maintained in conjunction with the use of a specific parcel of property identifying the name of the place, persons or organizations occupying the premises or designating the principal use or activity or the principal product or service available on the premises.

  1.  Pole sign.

A permanent sign mounted on a pole or poles wherein the bottom edge of the sign shall be at least four feet above the ground level.

  1.  Portable sign.

Any sign, whether on its own trailer, wheels or otherwise, which is designed to be transported from one place to another. It is characteristic of a portable sign that the space provided for advertising messages may be changed at will by the replacement of lettering or symbols.

  1.  Product advertising sign.

A permanent sign erected and maintained in conjunction with the use of a specific parcel of property identifying the name of the place, persons, or organization occupying the premises and designating a product or service available on the premises, which is not a principal use, activity, or product sold on the premises.

  1.  Projecting sign.

A sign located off the ground, affixed to an exterior building wall, and extending beyond it more than one foot.

  1.  Roof sign.

A sign attached or affixed in any manner to the top of any building roof.

  1.  Scenic corridor.

A travel way corridor which is determined by the city to be important for the general welfare by promoting investment and reinvestment in businesses and tourism through creating a favorable impression on the travelling public by reducing visual clutter and enhancing the visual clarity and aesthetic quality along such travel ways; which corridor shall consist of the paved roadway and right-of-way and an area 300 feet from either side of and parallel to the street right-of-way.

  1.  Sign.

Any solid or flexible material, structure, or combination thereof, including supporting apparatus, containing lettered, symbolic or graphic matter, or similar eye-attracting devices or light systems, attached to, resting on or painted upon a building or structure or erected or placed on premises, and designed to be visible from off the premises, provided, however that this shall not include hand painted window signs of less than 70 square feet.

  1.  Sign area.

Display spaces on a unified structure excluding supporting members and decorative base or border provided that:

  1.  Where two sign faces are placed side by side on a structure, the sign area shall be the total of the areas of the faces.
  2.  Where sign faces are erected back to back or in a “V” type, the sign area shall be one-half of the total of the areas of the faces.
  3.  Sign face.

The surface area of a sign devoted to a message or advertising display.

  1.  Signs, height of.

The vertical distance from the average grade at the base of the sign to the highest point on the top of the sign.

  1.  Signs, spacing of.

The distance between signs shall be measured along the center line of the street or highway adjacent to the signs between the lines intersecting with the center line which are drawn as perpendicular lines from the center points of the sign faces to the center line of the street.

  1.  Temporary sign.

A sign or advertising display constructed of cloth, canvas, fabric, paper, plywood, or other light material and intended to be displayed for a short period of time. Included in this category are retailers’ signs temporarily displayed for the purpose of informing the public of a sale or special offer, and banner signs, beacons, balloons, and mascot signs.

  1.  Three-sided signs.

Signs erected with three or more faces oriented in different directions.

  1.  ”V”-type signs.

Signs erected with faces oriented in different directions which shall be separated by no more than four feet at their nearest point, and with a horizontal angle no greater than 30 degrees.

  1.  Wall sign.

A sign located off the ground, directly upon, but no higher than, the building wall, projecting beyond said wall not more than one foot. Wall signs shall include messages carved, inscribed or designed into a face of the building and any sign painted or drawn on a face of the building.

Section 5:22-3—Permit required; exemptions; prohibited signs.

  1.  Permits required.

Unless exempted or prohibited as provided herein below, all signs shall require permits as provided in this section. Application for a permit shall be made to the department of buildings and inspections and shall be accompanied by such drawings, plans, specifications, and engineering designs as may be necessary to fully advise and acquaint the department personnel with the proposed sign and sign location and be accompanied with the deed, lease or other agreement by which the applicant has the right to erect, use or maintain the proposed sign at that location. Except as may be further restricted hereinafter, no permit for an off-premise sign shall be issued without the applicant first having presented documentation of the removal of an existing sign of equal or greater size. For the purposes of this section: (1) Signs in areas of special aesthetic concern shall be removed before signs in any other location; (2) If no signs of applicant are located in areas of special aesthetic concern, signs shall be removed from scenic corridors prior to signs in any other location; (3) Then non-conforming signs shall be removed prior to conforming signs; provided however, that a permit for a sign may be issued if an applicant produces documentation that a sign of equal or greater size has been removed due to an act of God or non-renewal or cancellation of a lease not initiated by the applicant. All such documentation will be subject to stringent enforcement. If any misrepresentation is made pertaining to any such documentation, the applicant will be subject to revocation of any permit issued in reliance on such misrepresentation and may be required to remove any structure built under such permit.

  1.  Exempt signs.

Except as otherwise provided in this ordinance, the following signs are exempt from the provisions of this section, subject, however, to meeting all other applicable codes and regulations.

  1.  Bulletin boards and identification signs for public, charitable, educational or religious institutions located on the premises of said institutions and not exceeding 24 square feet in total area, maximum two signs per site.
  2.  One construction sign per street frontage located on property where building is actually in progress under a valid building permit, which may include the names of persons and firms performing services, labor, or supplying materials to the premises and not exceeding 24 square feet. Such sign must be removed before a certificate of occupancy is issued.
  3.  Flags or insignias of a governmental, religious, charitable, or fraternal organization, except when displayed in connection with a commercial promotion.
  4.  Decorative flags and bunting for celebrations, conventions, and commemorations for a prescribed period of time when authorized by the city council.
  5.  One occupational sign or one professional name plate for each premise, denoting only the name, street, number and business of an occupant in a commercial building or public institutional building. Each occupational sign or professional name plate shall not exceed six square feet in area.
  6.  Political signs.
  7.  Window signs which identify or advertise activities, services, goods, or products available within the building, and which collectively cover twenty (20) percent or less of the window glass surface area.
  8.  Fuel price informational signs advertising the price of motor vehicle fuel provided that only one fuel price informational sign shall be permitted per fuel pump which sign shall be limited in size to an area of 216 square inches, shall be affixed directly and firmly to the fuel pump and shall be stationary. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the advertisement of fuel prices on any other sign meeting the requirements of this section.
  9.  Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited:

  1.  Lights and signs that resemble any traffic control device, official traffic control signs, or emergency vehicle markings.
  2.  Signs that produce noise or sounds capable of being heard including non-distinguishable sounds.
  3.  Signs which emit odor, visible smoke, vapor, or particles.
  4.  Signs attached to or painted onto a vehicle, trailer or benches for the primary purpose of advertising.
  5.  Abandoned signs.
  6.  Signs attached to trees, utility poles, street lights, or placed on any public property except as authorized by ordinance of the city council.
  7.  Stacked signs that are separate sign displays mounted one above the other whether on unified or separate structures.
  8.  Signs painted or drawn upon rocks, trees, or other natural features.
  9.  Decal.

A permanent decal, bearing the permit number, will be issued by the department of buildings and inspections with the permit. It shall be the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the decal is affixed to the permitted sign and in a manner that the decal is clearly and easily visible and readable.

Section 5:22-4—Sign fees.

Prior to the issuance of a permit, fees for on-premise and off-premise signs shall be payable as specified below. These fees are in addition to, and not in lieu of any other fees or licenses required.

Application Fee
Temporary sign $30.00
Portable sign 30.00
On-premise sign 0.20 per sq. ft. of sign face
Off-premise sign 0.20 per sq. ft. of sign face
Annual Fee
Temporary sign $30.00
Portable sign $30.00
On-Premise Sign
0—69 sq. ft. of sign face $0.00
70—672 sq. ft. of sign face 10.00
Off-Premise Sign $50.00 per structure

 

Annual fees must be paid by January 31 of each year. No additional permits will be issued until such annual fee has been paid, including permits that are pending.

Section 5:22-5—General requirements for all signs.

  1.  Signs shall not be erected or maintained which imitate, resemble, obscure or otherwise physically interfere with any official traffic sign, signal or device, nor obstruct or physically interfere with-the driver’s view of approaching, merging or intersecting traffic.
  2.  Signs shall not be erected or maintained which are structurally unsafe or in substantial disrepair.
  3.  It shall be unlawful to use a vehicle or trailer as a sign in circumvention of this section.
  4.  Maintenance.

Any sign not meeting the following provisions shall be repaired or removed within 60 days after receipt of notification by the department of buildings and inspections unless the building inspector determines that the sign owner is delayed for legitimate reasons and is making a good faith effort to correct any deficiency.

  1.  The area around any freestanding sign shall be kept clear of trash and litter and shall present a neat and healthy appearance.
  2.  All signs shall be maintained at the level of appearance originally held at the time of sign erection.
  3.  Exposed backs of signs must be painted a single, neutral color, presenting an attractive and finished appearance.
  4.  It shall be the responsibility of the off-premise sign owner and the on-premise sign business owner to maintain and insure conformance to the provisions of this section.
  5.  No illuminated or highly reflective signs, including their structures, shall be erected or maintained which are not effectively shielded so as to prevent beams or rays of light from being directed at any portion of the street or roadway, or from shining on or into residential buildings or otherwise adversely affecting surrounding or facing premises; or which adversely affect the safe operation of motor vehicles by reason of light intensity or brilliance which cause glare or otherwise impair the vision of the driver of the motor vehicle.

Section 5:22-6—Off-premise sign regulations.

In addition to the other requirements of this section and other ordinances of the city, off-premise signs must comply with the following regulations:

  1.  Maximum size.
  2.  The maximum sign area shall be 800 square feet, with a maximum height of 20 feet and a maximum length of 50 feet inclusive of any embellishments, border or trim, but excluding the base or apron, supports and other structural members.
  3.  An off-premise sign structure may contain two sign faces oriented in the same direction; signs may be placed back-to-back or V-type, provided that the total area of the sign faces oriented in any one direction shall not exceed maximum size provisions.
  4.  Lighting.

Off-premise signs shall not be erected or maintained which contain, include or are illuminated by intermittent lighting except those giving public service information such as, but not limited to, time, date, temperature, weather or news.

  1.  Minimum spacing and setback requirements.

Off-premise signs shall not be erected closer to other off-premise signs than the following prescribed distances except as hereinafter restricted:

  1.  The minimum spacing for all off-premise signs, on the same side of the street, shall be 1,000 linear feet measured on the center line of the street (See Diagram A on file in the office of the city clerk).
  2.  The minimum spacing for all off-premise signs which are on opposite sides of the street shall be 500 linear feet measured on the center line of such street (See Diagram B on file in the office of the city clerk).
  3.  When an existing off-premise sign is located within 300 feet of the right-of-way of any street or highway intersection, including the intersection of streets or highways not at grade, no additional sign shall be spaced less than 1,000 feet apart as measured along the center lines of the streets regardless of the street from which the signs are intended to be viewed (See Diagram C on file in the office of the city clerk).
  4.  Off-premise signs erected within 800 feet of and directed toward any interstate highway or U.S. highway shall be located no closer than 300 feet to the paved portion of main-traveled ways and interchange ramps.
  5.  Any off-premise sign erected within ten feet of the right-of-way of intersecting or merging streets, alleys, private drives, bridges, or railroad crossings shall be a minimum of eight feet above the level of the pavement of said streets.
  6.  Off-premise signs larger than 300 square feet shall be set back at least 400 feet; signs between 85 and 300 square feet shall be set back at least 250 feet; and signs 85 feet or less shall be set back at least 125 feet from any residentially zoned property, public park or school measured from the nearest edge of the sign.
  7.  Maximum height.

The maximum height for any off-premise sign shall be 40 feet above ground level at its base. Where the ground level is lower than the main-traveled way of the street or highway along which the sign is to be constructed, the maximum height as measured to the top of the sign face shall be extended to a point 25 feet above the plane of said main-traveled way.

  1.  General off-premise sign requirements.
  2.  No off-premise sign structures shall be located on, or project over, any public property or right-of-way except as provided by ordinance of the city council.
  3.  No off-premise sign shall be permitted on top of any building or rooftop.
  4.  No three-sided signs shall be permitted.
  5.  It shall be unlawful to construct an off-premise sign where such constructions require the removal of any tree twelve (12) inches in diameter or greater.
  6.  Areas of special aesthetic concern.
  7.  No additional off-premise signs shall be permitted in areas of special aesthetic concern as herein defined.
  8.  All existing off-premise signs shall be removed from existing areas of special aesthetic concern no later than seven years of the effective date of this ordinance. In areas of special aesthetic concern adopted by the city council after the effective date of this ordinance, all then existing off-premise signs shall be removed no later than seven years from the date of the adoption of such areas.

Section 5:22-7—On-premise sign regulations.

Unless otherwise provided in this ordinance, on-premise signs must comply with the following regulations.

  1.  Maximum size.
  2.  Except as provided below, each business establishment shall be limited to a square footage of 672 square feet for on-premise signage.
  3.  The total square footage of on-premise signs for retail car dealerships may be increased to an amount no greater than 35 percent of the maximum size specified herein which shall be calculated by measuring the actual square footage of the sign face as defined herein.
  4.  Maximum number.

No maximum number of on-premise signs is specified in this ordinance. For each business establishment, the maximum number of permitted signs shall be determined based on the maximum square footage allowance as specified herein.

  1.  Maximum height.

Except for on-premise signs where the roof is higher than 50 feet, the maximum height of on-premise signs shall be 50 feet above ground level at its base; provided, however, that in areas within 750 feet of the right-of-way of interstate highways, the maximum height shall be extended to a point 25 feet above the plane of the main traveled way of the interstate when the ground level of the sign base is lower than said main traveled way.

  1.  Placement requirements.
  2.  No on-premise sign shall be placed in such a manner as to block effective visibility of adjacent signs, whether on or off-premise signs in any district.
  3.  No on-premise sign shall be placed within 15 feet of any residential zone boundary.
  4.  No projecting sign shall project into any public right-of-way by more than five feet.
  5.  Wall signs shall not extend more than ten feet across the roof line or across any corner of the wall on which the sign is mounted.
  6.  No sign face shall be placed in such a manner that a motorist’s visibility is obscured either at driveways or entrance points to any business or at intersecting streets or alleys.
  7.  All signs shall meet minimum setback requirements of all zones on the rear and side yards.
  8.  Illumination.

It shall be unlawful to erect any attraction or sign which contains a beacon of any type and/or contains a spot light providing direct illumination to the public.

  1.  Portable signs.

Only one portable sign shall be permitted for each business establishment, however, such sign shall not be considered a part of the total allowable square footage for signage as provided herein.

  1.  Product advertising signs.

Product advertising signs shall not exceed 12 square feet in area for any one premise which area shall be included in the total permitted sign area for that premise.

Section 5:22-8—Penalties.

Both the owners or other persons in charge or control of signs, and owners or other persons in charge or control of property on which signs are located shall be responsible for assuring compliance with this section. Any failure or refusal to comply with this section shall be a violation and punished as provided in article 6, section 6:07 of this ordinance.