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Repeal & Replace the City’s Sign Ordinance

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CTAM-8364-2019

In January 2006, the Mayor & City Council approved a new Sign Ordinance (Article IX of Chapter 24, the Zoning Ordinance) for the City. Since that time, there have been significant court cases concerning content regulation of signs, as well as changes in sign technology & design trends that warrant a reexamination of the ordinance. The Mayor & City Council included the sign ordinance revision as a key action item in the FY 2020 Strategic Directions. Staff is proposing to repeal the current Sign Ordinance & replace it with a new ordinance that:

  • Addresses recent court cases by taking a content-neutral approach to sign regulation
  • Regulates emerging technology
  • Facilitates new sign trends
  • Narrows the definition of what a sign is
  • Preserves or expands existing rights for signage
  • Balances regulation with economic development
  • Makes the ordinance more user-friendly & understandable
  • Reduces the number of signs that must be approved by the Planning Commission
  • Adds a minor waiver process to provide flexibility

To achieve these goals the proposed Sign Ordinance includes:

  • Provisions that honor current sign packages & design guidelines
  • Signage limits & standards that are generally consistent with existing signs and the amount of signage currently allowed
  • Conversion of several sign types in the current ordinance, such as icon signs, and certain deviations, such as additional height for monument signs, to “by right” regulations
  • Replacement of sign types that could be viewed as content-based by a court with general “generic” sign types
  • Logical division & grouping of sign regulations by type, use, and duration
  • Narrowed scope of the definition of “sign”
  • Reorganized format that includes new tables for each allowable permanent and temporary sign type, with each table organized by the land use and zone.

Status

A joint public hearing with the Mayor & City Council and the Planning Commission on CTAM-8364 was held on Monday, February 3, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers. The Planning Commission record closed at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 9, 2020, and the Commission made its recommendation to the Mayor & City Council during its Wednesday, March 18, 2020, meeting. The Mayor & City Council record closed at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020, and Policy Discussion was held during their May 4, 2020, meeting. The City Council approved the text amendment as Ordinance O-08-20, which becomes effective on May 24, 2020. If you have any questions please contact the Planning Department at planning@gaithersburgmd.gov or 301-258-6330.