Township of Lower Gwynedd, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
 
GENERAL REFERENCES
Street signs — See Section 1238.13.
Signs in Residential Districts — See Sections 1255.08(a), 1256.08(b), 1257.08(a), 1258.08(b), 1260.08(a) and1262.08(a).
Signs in Cluster Development Residential Districts — See Sections 1264.08(a) and1266.08(a).
Signs in MD District — See Section 1270.08(a).
Signs in D, D-l, D-2, D-3 and D-4 Districts — See Sections 1280.09(a), 1282.09(a), 1284.09(a), 1285.08(a) and 1286.08(a).
Signs in F and F-1 Districts — See Sections 1286.08(a) and 1288.08(a).
Signs in PO Districts — See Section 1289.09(a).

§ 1292.01 Compliance required.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987]
Any sign erected or maintained in any district after the effective date of this chapter (Ordinance 233A, passed June 18, 1987) shall conform to this chapter.

§ 1292.02 Residential districts.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987; Ord. 262. Passed 4-18-1989]
In "AA," "AA-1," "A," "A-1," "B," "C," "CD," CD-1," "E," "MF-1," "MF-2," "MF-3" and "MF-3-A" Districts the following signs and no others, subject to the conditions specified, may be erected or maintained:
(a) 
One nonilluminated nameplate, not exceeding one square foot in area, announcing the name and address of the occupants of the residence;
(b) 
One professional sign of a physician, architect, dentist, attorney or person conducting a permitted home occupation on the premises, having a dimension not greater than 12 by 24 inches, which sign may be illuminated with nonflashing, uncolored, diffused or indirect light;
(c) 
One nonilluminated real estate "for sale" or "for rent" sign, not exceeding six square feet in area. Corner lots may have one such sign on each street frontage. After the property is sold or rented, such sign shall be removed within twenty-one days from such sale or rental.
(d) 
"No trespassing" signs and signs indicating private ownership of a property or a road, not exceeding one and one-half square feet in area nor 100 foot spacing;
(e) 
One incidental sign for any multifamily dwelling in which a business or rental office is located, which sign shall have an area not exceeding four square feet, and one sign announcing the name of the multifamily dwelling project, having an area not exceeding 24 square feet, which sign may be illuminated with nonflashing, uncolored, diffused or indirect light;
(f) 
Temporary signs of contractors, mechanics, painters and artisans, erected and maintained on the premises during the duration of the work only. One such sign per trade, each having an area of not more than eight square feet, shall be permitted, provided that each such sign shall be removed promptly upon completion of the work to which it refers, and such signs shall not be illuminated.
(g) 
Official street and traffic signs, and any signs required by law or for a Municipal use;
(h) 
Temporary or directional signs in accordance with Section 1292.06; and
(i) 
One temporary, nonilluminated sign up to 24 square feet in face area may be constructed on a property advertising the availability for sale of four or more building lots or new homes, provided that the sign shall be located no closer than 10 feet from the edge of the cartway and also that the sign shall be removed within 10 days of the date on which the last available building lot or home was placed under agreement of sale.
For any registered nonconforming use or for any nonresidential use in a Residential District, the provisions of the appropriate use district listed in this chapter shall apply, when authorized as a special exception by the Zoning Hearing Board.

§ 1292.03 D, D-1, D-2, D-3, D-4, MD, F and F-1 Districts.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987]
In "D," "D-1," "D-2," "D-3," "D-4," "MD," "F" and "F-1" Districts, the following signs and no others, subject to the conditions specified, may be erected or maintained:
(a) 
Any sign permitted in Residential Districts. However, real estate signs may be increased to an area of sixteen square feet.
(b) 
One free-standing sign on each street frontage, which may be illuminated on the same lot as the use to which it refers, provided that the total sign area on any one street frontage of any property in single and separate ownership shall not exceed forty square feet; and
(c) 
One sign on a building for each retail store, provided that the area does not exceed forty square feet.

§ 1292.04 PO Districts.

[Ord. 238. Passed 8-18-1987]
In a "PO" Professional Office District, the following signs and no others, subject to the conditions specified, may be erected or maintained:
(a) 
Any sign permitted in Residential Districts. However, real estate signs may be increased to an area of sixteen square feet.
(b) 
One business sign, not exceeding 20 square feet in area, located adjacent to each public street on which each professional office has frontage.

§ 1292.05 General regulations.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987]
The following regulations shall apply to signs in all districts:
(a) 
No sign shall be erected or maintained at the intersection of streets or at a driveway entrance or exit so as to obstruct free and clear vision. If located near or within a direct line of vision of any traffic control sign or signal, such sign shall have no red, green or amber illumination.
(b) 
No sign, other than an official street sign, shall be erected or maintained within the ultimate right of way of any street.
(c) 
Signs may be painted on or affixed flat against the walls of buildings, or may project therefrom not more than 30-six inches. The latter shall be deemed to be projecting signs. The lowest part of any projecting sign shall be not less than 10 feet above the ground.
(d) 
Directional signs of a public or semipublic nature, not exceeding eight square feet in area, may be erected in any district, provided that no advertising matter shall be contained thereon. Such signs may be used for the following purposes:
(1) 
The name or location of a municipality, village, community center, school, place of worship or service club, and the name and place of a meeting; and
(2) 
For an event of general public interest or a temporary sign for a fair, exhibition, general election or similar event. Such signs may be erected for not more than 30 days, upon approval of the Township Code Official.
(e) 
Temporary directional signs, not exceeding two square feet, referring to sample homes, openings and the like, shall be permitted in any district, provided that such signs refer to such events in the Township only, and provided, further, that the spacing of such signs along a straight line shall be not closer together than 1,000 feet, except that one sign may be placed at each change in direction or at street intersections.
(f) 
Whenever a sign becomes dilapidated or structurally unsafe, or endangers the safety of the public, a building or premises, the Township shall give written notice to the owner of the premises upon which such sign is located, and such sign shall be made safe, repaired or removed, as applicable, within 10 days from receipt of such written notice.
(g) 
Any nonconforming sign may continue to be maintained if such sign existed on the effective date of this section (Ordinance 233A, passed June 18, 1987), but after such date no such sign shall be increased in number or in total area.
(h) 
No flashing or intermittent lighting of any kind on any sign shall be permitted in any district. The source of the light on or from any sign shall not be directly visible. All illumination on any sign shall be extinguished between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. of the following day, prevailing time.
(i) 
Except as otherwise provided in this section, any permitted sign, building or structure in any district may be illuminated, subject to the following regulations:
(1) 
There shall be no lighting or floodlighting of a flashing, intermittent or moving type, and no lighting or floodlighting shall change color or intensity.
(2) 
Illumination shall be shielded so that the source of light shall not be visible from any point off the premises on which the sign, building or structure is located.
(j) 
Signs such as "no parking," "entrance," "exit," "keep off," "beware of dog," "parking" and similar devices for the convenience or protection of the public shall not be considered in computing total sign area on the premises. Such signs shall be less than 1 1/2 square feet in area.
(k) 
No sign shall exceed the height limitation set forth for buildings or other structures in the district in which such sign is located, and no attached sign shall project above the building to which it is attached.
(l) 
Any sign no longer in use shall be promptly removed.

§ 1292.06 Special regulations.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987; Ord. 391. Passed 2-18-2001]
The following special regulations shall apply to all signs erected or maintained in the specific instances listed below:
(a) 
Service Stations. In addition to the signs permitted in a "D" Business District, gasoline service stations may erect or maintain one additional business sign of 20 square feet per street frontage and such other signs as are legally required to identify the service, product and cost of the same to their customers. Temporary signs of any kind, attached or freestanding, are prohibited.
(b) 
Temporary Signs. Temporary signs, including mobile and portable signs, advertising a public or community event of general public interest may be erected upon approval of the Building/Zoning Officer subject to the following:
(1) 
Such signs shall not exceed 12 square feet in area.
(2) 
Such signs are permitted on-site only and are limited to one for each street on which the site fronts.
(3) 
Such signs shall not be displayed for a period exceeding 14 days except upon good cause shown and written permission for longer display received from the Board of Supervisors.
(c) 
Campaign Signs. Campaign signs may be erected only after registration with the Township, by a Township resident, and upon payment of a fee of $25. Such signs shall be removed within 10 days after the election to which they pertain.

§ 1292.07 Sign permits.

[Ord. 233A. Passed 6-18-1987]
The following regulations shall apply to the maintenance and creation of all signs in the Township:
(a) 
Required. A sign permit shall be required for all signs which exceed eight square feet in area in Residential Districts and 12 square feet in area in all other districts, provided that all illuminated signs, regardless of size, shall require a sign permit, and such illumination shall be installed in accordance with the Township Electrical Code.
(b) 
Drawings, Fee, Bond. No sign permit shall be issued until a drawing, showing the size, location, text and owner of the sign, has been submitted, in writing, along with a fee, to the Township, together with a license or bond, if required. The fee shall be established by the Township from time to time.

§ 1292.08 Off-Premises Sign Overlay District.

[Added 4-10-2012 by Ord. No. 484]
(a) 
Purpose and Intent. The purpose of this section is to provide an area for the placement of off-premises advertising signs or billboards in the Township. The goals of this section are to:
(1) 
Provide clear guidelines and regulations for the placement of off-premises advertising signs or billboards.
(2) 
Provide standards for construction of off-premises advertising signs or billboards.
(3) 
Provide for the location of off-premises advertising signs or billboards so that such signs are not adverse to the health, safety and welfare of the public.
(b) 
General Regulations.
(1) 
Signs permitted. Off-premises advertising signs may be permitted by special exception in the Off-Premises Sign Overlay District subject to the requirements contained in this section.
(2) 
Size of Sign Face. An off-premises advertising sign face may not exceed 300 square feet per side in area, with a maximum length of 20 feet and a maximum width of 15 feet.
(3) 
Height. Off-premises advertising signs shall not exceed 35 feet in height. The height shall be measured from the grade of the immediately adjoining street, road, highway or alley to which the sign is oriented to the highest part of the sign.
(4) 
Location of Sign. Off-premises advertising signs shall be located no closer than 20 feet to any property line, and shall not be located closer than 25 feet to any street or road measured from the ultimate right-of-way of such street or road. Off-premises advertising signs may not be closer than 1,000 feet from another off-premises advertising sign measured linearly. No off-premises advertising sign or portion thereof shall be permitted within the clear sight triangle at any intersection of a driveway with a street. No off-premises advertising sign shall be erected within a three-hundred-foot circumference of the nearest property line of any of the following: historic site, school, church or other religious institution, retirement or nursing home, cemetery, government building, community center or public park, playground or recreational area. No off-premises advertising sign shall be located within 500 feet of any existing residential dwelling or residential zoning district.
(5) 
Number of signs per lot. There shall be no more than one off-premises advertising sign per lot.
(6) 
Content. No off-premises advertising sign shall advertise any adult or sexually oriented businesses or materials, contain any obscene or profane language, emit any verbal announcement or noises of any kind, or otherwise display any content prohibited by 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5903. In addition, such signs shall not display any moving, flashing, scrolling, fading, brightening or animated text or video.
(7) 
Lighting. Illumination of off-premises advertising signs shall follow the standards and requirements of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and shall be subject to review and approval of the Township. To the extent that there is a conflict between a standard and/or requirements of the IESNA and the provisions of this section, the provisions of this section shall control. Illumination of all off-premises outdoor advertising signs shall be by external illumination or light-emitting diode (LED) only. Animated, flashing, revolving, scrolling, rotating and oscillating style signs shall be prohibited. The copy or image on an LED sign shall not change more than once per minute. All copy or image changes shall be instantaneous and shall not fade in or out of the digital active area. Any external illumination shall be shielded as necessary to direct light onto the sign without spillover on any side of the sign. Any resulting glare generated by an off-premises advertising sign shall not exceed 1/8 footcandle, as measured on the ground at the curbline or shoulder, so as not to impair the vision of any motor vehicle driver or otherwise interfere with a driver's operation of his or her motor vehicle. An off-premises outdoor advertising sign or its structure shall only be illuminated from dusk until 10:00 p.m. LED signs shall not be operated between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the following morning.
(8) 
Luminance. At no point shall the luminance of any off-premises advertising sign exceed the following:
A. 
Off-premises advertising signs using external illumination shall not exceed 1.75 watts per square foot of board face.
B. 
LED signs shall not exceed 0.3 footcandles over surrounding ambient light levels.
(9) 
Lot size. The minimum lot size for a property on which an off-premises advertising sign may be located is 10,000 square feet.
(10) 
Maintenance of Sign. All off-premises advertising signs shall be structurally sound and maintained in good condition. If the signs are not structurally sound or maintained in good condition, the signs shall be immediately removed at the sole cost and expense of the owner of the sign. If an off-premises advertising sign is not structurally sound or remains in poor condition, the Township shall notify the owner of the property on which the sign is located and provide the owner 60 days' written notice, certified mail, sent to the owner's last known address, to repair or remove the sign. If the sign is not repaired or removed within 60 days of the date of the notice, the Township may remove the sign, and the cost thereof shall be paid by the owner of the property on which the sign is erected. The Township may file a lien against the property or take any action permitted by law to collect the cost of removal if it is not paid by the owner of the property.
(11) 
Sign Arrangement. When two sign faces are used in a back-to-back arrangement, they shall be parallel, directly aligned with each other, and not more than five feet apart. When a V-type sign arrangement is used for two sign faces of any off-premises advertising sign, the sign faces shall not be located more than 15 feet apart at the furthest point, nor shall the interior angle be greater than 15°. The rear side of any single-face, off-premises advertising sign shall be of one neutral color which shall be specified in the order of the Zoning Hearing Board.
(12) 
Agreement of Property Owner. No part or foundation or support of any off-premises advertising sign shall be placed on, in or over any private property without the written agreement of the property owner. The agreement shall be presented as part of the application for said sign permit, but the consideration or price figures bargained between the private parties may be redacted.
(13) 
Landscaping. Trees greater than four inches in diameter removed for the construction of an off-premises advertising sign shall be replaced on site at a ratio of one replacement tree for each removed tree using native species no less than three inches in diameter. A decorative landscaped strip shall be located immediately adjoining every side of the supporting structure of the off-premises advertising sign and extending a minimum of five feet from the supporting structure in all directions. All landscaping shall be maintained in a good and safe condition. If any approved landscaping is found by the Township to be in poor condition, the Township shall notify the owner of the property on which the sign and landscaping are located and provide the owner 60 days' written notice, certified mail, sent to the owner's last known address, to correct the condition of the landscaping to the satisfaction of the Township. If the condition of the landscaping is not corrected within 60 days of the date of the notice, the Township may perform such work as is necessary to bring the landscaping into a good and safe condition, and the cost thereof shall be paid by the owner of the property on which the sign and landscaping are located. The Township may file a lien against the property or take any action permitted by law to collect the cost of any corrective action taken by the Township if it is not paid by the owner of the property.
(14) 
Owner Identification. All off-premises advertising signs shall be identified on the structure with the name and address of the owner of each sign. Signs within an area regulated by Chapter 445 of the Pennsylvania Code shall further be identified with a permit number or tag issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
(15) 
Discontinued Sign. An off-premises advertising sign shall be considered a discontinued sign when it has carried no message for a period of 180 consecutive days, or where such sign no longer identifies a bona fide business, commodity, service, entertainment or facility, or where the majority of the message on such sign has deteriorated to the condition that it is not clearly discernable. An off-premises advertising sign which has been discontinued shall be presumed to be abandoned and shall constitute an illegal off-premises advertising sign. Any period of time for which the discontinued use of an off-premises advertising sign is proved to be caused by government actions, labor strikes, material shortages or acts of God, and without any contributing fault of the owner of the sign or user of the sign, shall not be calculated toward the number of days of discontinued use. Any discontinued off-premises advertising sign shall be removed at the expense of the owner of the sign. In the event that the owner of the sign cannot be ascertained after the Township's reasonable inquiry, the discontinued sign and structure shall be removed at the expense of the owner of the property on which the sign is erected.
(16) 
Additional Regulations. In addition to the requirements contained in this section, all off-premises advertising signs shall comply with any and all applicable zoning regulations not specifically established herein and any and all Township, state and/or federal regulations, including, but not limited to, the Lower Gwynedd Township Building Code and all applicable Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulations.

§ 1292.09 Changeable text electronic message boards.

[Added 7-28-2015 by Ord. No. 499]
(a) 
For the purposes of this section, the term "changeable text electronic message board" shall refer to an internally illuminated portion of a permitted sign in which plasma technology or LED technology, or other electronic technology is utilized to present text conveying a message or announcement regarding the use on the property where such sign is located or a public service announcement, all in accordance with the regulations set forth in this section.
(b) 
Changeable text electronic message boards shall be related solely to the use upon the property where such sign is permitted (with the exception of unrelated "community service" announcements preapproved by the Township), and shall comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Changeable text electronic message boards shall be permitted by special exception on properties used for the following purposes, and no other, unless required by law (i.e., gasoline price signs):
A. 
Public or private elementary schools.
B. 
Public or private middle schools or junior high schools.
C. 
Public or private high schools.
D. 
Colleges.
E. 
Universities.
F. 
Places of religious worship.
G. 
Municipal facilities.
(2) 
If a property used for one of the above-listed purposes receives a special exception for the use of a changeable text electronic message board and the use of that property thereafter changes to a use which is not listed above, the new use shall not be permitted or entitled to continue the use of any changeable text electronic message board on the property and the changeable text electronic message board shall be removed.
(3) 
Other than letters or numbers, no other images or symbols of any kind shall be displayed by a changeable text electronic message board. In addition, no text or numbers displayed on a changeable text electronic message board shall be permitted to move, scroll, flash, revolve, rotate, oscillate, fade or display animated text or video.
(4) 
The height of letters or numbers in any text shall be sized to accommodate the speed of traffic on the roadway adjacent to the property on which the changeable text electronic message board is located, and shall be no less than four inches in height.
(5) 
The copy on a changeable text electronic message board may change at a rate not greater than once per minute. Each change shall be instantaneous. All text and the messaging background shall remain static and in full compliance with Subsection (b)(3) above.
(6) 
Illumination of the changeable text electronic message board shall not be permitted between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 7:00 a.m.
(7) 
No more than one, double-faced, changeable text electronic message board shall be permitted on a property utilized, or properties utilized collectively, for one of the uses listed above in Subsection (b)(1).
(8) 
A changeable text electronic message board shall be no larger than 20 square feet.
(9) 
No changeable text electronic message board shall emit any audio or verbal announcement or noise of any kind.