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Signs of change

Do's and don'ts of Sunnyside's new sign code

First, the good news.

No matter what sign your business currently has it will be grandfathered in, or allowed to remain, under Sunnyside's new sign code which took effect on Dec. 18.

The only exception are billboards in the city's entryway areas, which at last count was only one.

Now to the heart of the matter.

Outside alcohol advertisements, which don't fall under the grandfathered-in category of signs, such as banners at many convenience stores, are forbidden if they are within view of schools, parks and playgrounds. The outdoor beer signs will also have to go if they are in view of a church, but only if a complaint is filed.

Flashing signs and those on rooftops are also illegal, as are temporary signs, such as posters, banners and pennants. As a result, banners placed along fences are in violation of the sign code.

Portable signs and advertising vehicles are also forbidden.

That means a truck, for example, parked around on different city streets as a form of advertising is not allowed. The ban does not apply to a rig used by someone for their business such as a sales or delivery person.

One exception to this aspect of the code is that a business, such as a car dealership, can hang pennants for special, limited time sales.

There are also exceptions to the temporary sign rule.

Construction signs, grand opening displays, special event signs for businesses and organizations, campaign, garage sale, real estate and outdoor commercial signs are allowed. Outdoor commercial signs, though, are limited to a 60-day period through the year. Some of the temporary signs require permits.

Signs announcing community events are allowed, as are signs on the outfield fences of baseball fields, provided that the signs primarily point toward the ballfield and not intended to advertise off-site.

Signs on marquees and awnings are permitted.

Signs generally require a permit, though real estate and campaign signs are among the exceptions.

The permit application, in turn, must include location and a drawing or photograph showing the dimensions of the sign. Details must also be provided regarding the proposed placement of the sign.

Once a sign is erected it is subject to periodic inspection upon city request.

Then there's the matter of allowed sign dimensions and setbacks required.

A sign for a building with a gross floor area of 5,000 square-feet or smaller can have a free standing sign measuring up to eight-feet tall, for example, with a sign face measuring up to 20 square-feet on each side. The property line setback is five feet.

On the other end of the spectrum, buildings with more than 100,000 square-feet can have a free-standing sign up to 20-feet tall, but requiring a 15-foot property line setback.

With all the numbers and requirements, the new sign code may be confusing, which may require a visit with the folks at city hall.

Even those with grandfathered-in signs need to be aware they can lose that status under the following conditions:

• The sign is altered in any way.

• The sign is relocated to a position making it less in compliance with the sign code requirements.

• The sign is replaced; or

• Any new primary sign is placed in connection with the business; or

• The business which the sign advertises is sold or begins operation under new ownership.

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