Questions about eCode360? Municipal users Join us Monday through Wednesday between 12pm and 1pm EDT to get answers and other tips!
Township of Swatara, PA
Dauphin County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Purposes. This article is intended to promote and maintain overall community aesthetic quality; establish reasonable time, place and manner of regulations for the exercise of free speech, without regulating content (excepting obscenity that is prohibited by state law or language that incites violence); promote traffic safety by avoiding distractions and sight distance obstructions; and protect property values and ensure compatibility with the character of neighboring uses.
B. 
Permit required. A zoning permit shall be required for all signs except for signs meeting the requirements of § 295-111 and nonilluminated window signs. Only types, sizes and heights of signs that are specifically permitted by this chapter within the applicable district shall be allowed.
C. 
Changes on signs. Any lawfully existing sign (including nonconforming signs) may be painted or repaired or changed in logo or message without a new permit under this chapter, provided that the changes do not increase the sign area or otherwise result in noncompliance or an increased nonconformity with this chapter.
See § 295-22 of this chapter.
A. 
The following signs shall be permitted by right within all zoning districts within the following regulations and shall not be required to have a permit under this article:
Type of Sign
Description
Maximum Number of Signs per Lot
Maximum Sign Area per Sign* on Residential Lots**
(square feet)
Maximum Sign Area per Sign* on Non- residential Lots
(square feet)
Other Requirements
Agricultural sales or Christmas tree sign
Advertises the seasonal sale of agricultural products or Christmas trees
2
8
24
Shall only be posted during seasons when such products are actively offered for sale
Charitable event sign
Advertises a special event held a maximum of 9 days in any calendar year that primarily is held to benefit a legitimate tax-exempt nonprofit organization or charity
1
32
32
Shall be placed a maximum of 30 days prior to the event and removed a maximum of 10 days after the event
Contractor's sign
Advertises a building tradesperson, engineer or architect who is actively conducting significant work on a particular lot that is not such person's place of business, or a bank or agency that is financing an on-site construction project
1 per contractor
12
30 (or one sign of 60 square feet maximum may be used if the sign is shared by multiple entities)
Shall only be permitted while such work is actively and clearly underway and a maximum of 30 days afterward; shall not be illuminated
Directional sign (on-site)
Provides information indicating traffic direction, entry or exit, loading or service area, directions to apartment numbers or parking courts in a development, fire lanes, parking or closely similar information regarding the same lot as the sign is on, and that does not include advertising
No maximum
3, in addition to signs painted on pavement
3, in addition to signs painted on pavement
Directional signs within a residential development shall not be illuminated
Flag
A pennant made of fabric or materials with a similar appearance that is hung in such a way to flow in the wind (See also "special sale signs" below.)
1
20
20
Flags of governments and flags that simply include colors or patterns are not regulated by this chapter, provided they do not exceed 10 in number
Garage sale sign
Advertises an occasional garage sale/porch sale or auction
2 per event
2 per sign
2 per sign
See § 295-96D(8), Garage sale
Home occupation sign
Advertises a permitted home occupation
1
2
2
Shall not be internally illuminated; shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the street right-of-way, unless printed on a mailbox; may be freestanding, attached flat on a building wall or within a window
Identification sign
Only identifies the name and/or occupation of the resident and/or the name, street address and/or use of a lot, but that does not include advertising
1
1, except 2 for a principal non- residential use
6
Maximum height of 8 feet
Open house sign
Advertises the temporary and periodic open house of a property for sale or rent
2 per event
4
4
Shall be placed a maximum of 5 days before open house begins and be removed a maximum of 24 hours after open house ends; such sign shall not be posted more than 5 consecutive days
Political sign
Advertises a person or party seeking political office or a political cause or opinion on a referendum or matter of political concern and which relates to a scheduled election or matter of upcoming vote by a governmental body. The sign shall not obstruct safe sight distances. Political signs shall not be posted on property owned by the Township, except as may be allowed on election day outside of a polling location
Maximum of 2 sign faces per issue or candidate per street per lot
Maximum of 10 square feet per issue or candidate per street frontage
Maximum of 20 square feet per issue or candidate per street frontage
Shall be removed a maximum of 15 days after an election, vote or referendum if the sign pertains to such a matter. Political signs shall not be placed on private property without the prior consent of the owner. If a political sign does not meet these requirements, then it shall be regulated as an off-premises sign
Public services sign
Advertises the availability of rest rooms, telephones or other similar public convenience
No maximum
2
2
Real estate sign
Advertises the availability of property on which the sign is located for sale, rent or lease
1 per street the lot abuts
6, except 30 for a develop- ment of 5 or more dwelling units
30
Shall only be placed on the property while it is actively for sale, lease or rent and shall be removed a maximum of 30 days after settlement or start of lease of property or the last unit in the development
Recreation area sign
Off-premises signs that are posted around a recreation facility that is owned by the Township, the county or a Township-recognized nonprofit youth recreation organization
No maximum
50
50
Such signs shall not be internally illuminated and shall be directed towards spectators at the recreation facility, as opposed to a street
Service organization/ place of worship sign
An off-premises sign stating name of a recognized incorporated service organization, place of worship or fire company and that states the place and times of meetings or services and/or an arrow directing persons to such location
2
6
6
Maximum of 2 such signs per such organization or place of worship. Such signs shall not be illuminated and shall not interfere with vehicle or pedestrian traffic and shall not obstruct traffic signs
Special sale signs
Temporary banners, flags and other signs that advertise a special sales event at a lawful principal commercial business. A portable sign may be used under this provision
5 per lot
Not permitted
Total of 60 square feet for all such banners, flags and other temporary signs
Shall be displayed a maximum of 30 days per calendar year. Such signs shall not flash, be internally illuminated, nor obstruct safe sight distances
Time and temperature sign
With a sole purpose to announce the current time and temperature and any nonprofit public service messages
1
Not permitted
30
Trespassing sign
Indicating that a road is private, that trespassing is prohibited on a lot, or controlling certain activities such as hunting and fishing on the lot
No maximum
2
4
NOTES:
*
Maximum sign areas are for each of two sides of each permitted sign, measured in square feet.
**
For the purposes of this section, a "residential lot" shall mean a lot occupied by a principal residential use or an undeveloped lot in a residential district.
B. 
In addition, the following types of signs are not regulated by this chapter:
(1) 
Historic sign: memorializes an important historic place, event or person and is specifically authorized by the Township or a county, state or federal agency.
(2) 
Holiday decorations: commemorates a holiday recognized by the Township, county, state or federal government and does not include advertising.
(3) 
Not readable sign: not readable from any public street or any exterior lot line.
(4) 
Official sign: erected by the state, county, Township or other legally constituted governmental body, or specifically authorized by Township ordinance or resolution, and which exists for public purposes.
(5) 
Required sign: only includes information required to be posted outdoors by a government agency or the Township.
(6) 
Right-of-way sign: posted within the existing right-of-way of a public street and officially authorized by the Township or PennDOT, including but not limited to decorative banners hung from streetlights or across a street that are authorized by the Township.
A. 
The following are the on-premises signs permitted on a lot within the specified districts and within the following regulations, in addition to exempt signs and temporary signs permitted in all districts by other provisions of this article. See definitions of the types of signs in § 295-22.
Zoning District or Type of Use
Total Maximum Height of Freestanding Signs
Total Maximum Area of Wall Signs
Total Maximum Area of Window Signs
Total Maximum Area and Number of Freestanding Signs
Conservation District, Agricultural District or residential districts, with signs in this table limited to allowed principal nonresidential uses; for home occupation signs, see § 295-111
8 feet
30 square feet on each side of a principal nonresidential building or an allowed nursing home or personal care center
May be used in place of a wall sign with the same restrictions
1 sign on each street the lot abuts, each with a maximum sign area of 24 square feet; see also entrance signs for major residential developments in Subsection E
A-OG District
8 feet
1 square foot of sign area for each linear foot of building length on the building side on which such signs are attached
Temporary nonilluminated window signs are not regulated; other window signs shall be considered wall signs
1 sign per street that the lot abuts, each with a maximum area of 24 square feet*
Any zoning district not listed above
30 feet, except 45 feet for an on-premises sign permitted to have a sign area greater than 100 square feet
2 square feet of sign area for each linear foot of building length on the building side on which such signs are attached; if a building includes two or more separate business establishments, an applicant may base their wall sign area upon the building length along their own business establishment, without considering existing sign areas of other businesses along other parts of the building
Temporary nonilluminated window signs are not regulated; other window signs shall be considered wall signs; wall signs may project from a building (such as on an awning), provided they do not intrude into more than 25% of the minimum front yard
1 sign per street that the lot abuts, each with a maximum area of 60 square feet*
NOTES:
*
If a lot includes two or more distinct principal business establishments, the maximum freestanding sign area may be increased by 10 square feet for each principal business establishment beyond the first business. For example, if a lot includes three such establishments, the maximum freestanding sign area shall be 60 plus 20 equals 80 square feet. If a lot includes new vehicle franchises for two or more manufacturers of motor vehicles, one freestanding sign of 60 square feet each shall be allowed per franchise. A principal commercial use may also have a sandwich board sign, with a maximum width of two feet and a maximum height of four feet, which shall only be placed outside of the business during hours when the business is open to the public. Such sign shall not be illuminated and shall not be placed within a public street right-of-way and shall not obstruct a four-foot-wide clear path along any walkway for wheelchairs and pedestrians. A sandwich board sign shall be kept a minimum of five feet from the curbline or five feet from the road shoulder where a curb does not exist.
B. 
Maximum height of wall signs. The maximum height of wall signs shall be equal to the top of the roof along the wall to which they are attached. However, signs may be attached to a parapet roof that vertically extends up to 10 feet above the structural roof, provided the parapet roof appears to be an architectural extension of the building.
C. 
Portable signs (including signs on mobile stands) and other temporary signs.
(1) 
Purpose. These standards recognize portable signs as a particular type of sign that has the characteristics of a temporary sign but that has been inappropriately used as a permanent sign. This subsection is based on the policy that if a use desires to regularly display a sign for regularly changing messages, that it erect a permanent sign within all of the requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
Portable signs are prohibited in all districts, except as a temporary charitable event sign or special event sign, which shall meet such provisions in § 295-111.
(3) 
Businesses are encouraged to provide an area on a permanent sign that displays changeable messages, as opposed to using a separate sign for such purpose.
D. 
Signs on freestanding walls. A freestanding sign may be attached to a decorative masonry or stone wall with a maximum height of six feet and a maximum length of 12 feet, without being regulated by the wall setback regulations of this chapter and with the wall itself not counting towards the maximum sign area. Such walls may be placed in a yard, provided they do not obstruct safe sight distances.
E. 
Major development sign. One two-sided sign or two one-sided signs shall be allowed at up to two exterior street entrances to a subdivision or land development of 20 or more dwelling units or more than five principal business uses. Such sign area shall be 50 square feet and shall be attached to a wall that meets Subsection D.
F. 
Nonconforming use sign. A lawful principal nonconforming use in a residential district may include one wall sign with a maximum sign area of 20 square feet. Such sign shall not involve flashing and shall not use neon or similar methods of lighting.
The following prohibitions on signs shall apply in all zoning districts:
A. 
Any moving object used to attract attention to a commercial use is prohibited. However, certain flags and banners may be allowed as provided in § 295-111.
B. 
Flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated, or electronically or mechanically moving signs of any type are prohibited. Scrolling signs shall be allowed if they only include text. Flashing signs shall be considered signs that do not show the same message for six or more seconds. Signs may change their message from time to time, provided that each message is visible for a minimum of six seconds, except time-and-temperature signs may change more frequently.
[Amended 7-8-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-11]
C. 
Signs which emit smoke, visible vapors or particles, sound or odor are prohibited.
D. 
Signs which contain information that states that a lot may be used for a purpose not permitted under this chapter are prohibited.
E. 
Signs that are of such form, shape or color that they resemble an official traffic sign, signal or device or that have any characteristics which are likely to confuse or distract the operator of a motor vehicle on a public street (such as prominent use of the word "danger") are prohibited.
F. 
Signs or displays visible from a lot line that include words or images that are obscene or pornographic are prohibited.
G. 
Balloons of greater than 50 cubic feet that are tethered to the ground or a structure for periods of over a day and that are primarily intended for advertising purposes are prohibited.
H. 
Floodlights and outdoor lasers for advertising purposes are prohibited.
I. 
To avoid distractions to motorists, neon lighting of more than 10 square feet per lot shall be prohibited as part of signs and if attached to the outside of a building. Neon shall not be used to line the outside of a building.
A. 
Purposes. Off-premises signs are controlled by this chapter for the following purposes:
(1) 
To ensure that a physical environment is maintained that is attractive to desirable types of development, especially light industrial and office parks;
(2) 
To prevent visual pollution in the Township and protect property values, especially in consideration of the fact that most commercial areas of the Township are within close proximity to existing residences;
(3) 
To prevent glare on adjacent property and streets;
(4) 
To avoid the creation of additional visual distractions to motorists, especially along busy arterial streets that involve complex turning movements and numerous traffic hazards;
(5) 
To recognize the numerous alternative forms of free speech available in the Township, including existing nonconforming off-premises signs, on-premises signs and temporary signs and printed and electronic media;
(6) 
To carry out the purposes listed in § 295-109.
B. 
Nonconforming off-premises signs. This section is not intended to require the removal of an existing lawfully placed off-premises sign that is in structurally sound condition.
C. 
PennDOT sign. Signs erected and maintained by PennDOT are permitted by right in all districts.
D. 
Permitted off-premises signs. Except for other types of signs that are specifically allowed by this section to be off-premises, and except for bus shelter signs allowed by § 295-96D(2), an off-premises sign is only permitted if it meets the following requirements:
(1) 
District. An off-premises sign is only permitted in the M-G District and adjacent to I-83 in the M-L District.
(2) 
Location. An off-premises sign shall be set back a minimum of 50 feet from all lot lines and street rights-of-way; except adjacent to the lot line and street right-of-way which the off-premises sign faces, the setback shall be five feet.
(3) 
Maximum total sign area on each of two sides: 672 square feet.
(4) 
Spacing. Any off-premises sign greater than 20 feet in sign area shall be separated by a minimum of 1,000 feet from any other off-premises sign with a sign area greater than 20 square feet along the same side of a street, and including existing signs in other municipalities. No lot shall include more than one off-premises sign, except as allowed in Subsection D(6) below.
(5) 
Maximum height: 45 feet above the elevation of the street that the sign faces towards, measured at the street center line.
(6) 
Attached. No off-premises sign or sign face shall be attached in any way to any other off-premises sign, except that a sign of 672 square feet may have two sign faces of 672 square feet each, provided the angle between the signs does not exceed 45°.
(7) 
Control of lighting and glare. See standards in §§ 295-103 and 295-113B. Lights shall be directed so they do not shine into the eyes of motorists nor residents of homes. Lighting shall be directed downwards towards the sign area.
(8) 
Setbacks. No off-premises sign greater than 20 square feet in sign area shall be located within 250 feet from any of the following:
(a) 
An existing dwelling; or
(b) 
A residential district.
(9) 
Condition. The sign shall be maintained in good and safe condition, particularly to avoid hazards in high winds. The area around the sign shall be kept free of debris. If the message of a sign is no longer intact, it shall be replaced with a solid color or a "for lease" sign.
A. 
Setbacks.
(1) 
All freestanding signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from the existing street right-of-way. Signs shall not be located within the existing street right-of-way, except for allowed projecting signs and sandwich board signs.
(2) 
A freestanding illuminated sign for a commercial or industrial business shall not be located within five feet from an abutting lot line of a principal dwelling in a residential district.
(3) 
These setbacks shall not apply to official signs, nameplate signs, public service signs and directional signs.
B. 
Sight clearance. No sign shall be so located that it interferes with the sight clearance requirements of § 295-123.
C. 
Off-premises. No sign, except permitted off-premises, official, political or public service signs, shall be erected on a property to which it does not relate.
D. 
Permission of owner. No sign shall be posted on any property or sign pole or public utility pole, unless permission has been received by the owner.
E. 
Signs on utility poles and street signs. No sign shall be attached to a utility pole or street signpost, except by a utility or government agency.
F. 
Construction of signs. Every permanent sign permitted in this section shall be constructed of durable materials and shall be kept in good condition and repair. The Zoning Officer shall, by written notice, require a property owner or lessee to repair or remove a dilapidated or unsafe sign within a specified period of time. If such order is not complied with, the Township may repair or remove such sign at the expense of such owner or lessee.
G. 
Wiring of signs. Signs shall be prohibited that involve electrical cords laying across parking lots, driveways or sidewalks, except on a residential property for seasonal lighting or as may be allowed for a temporary charitable event sign.
H. 
Banners and overhanging signs. The Board of Commissioners or the Township Manager may approve the hanging of decorative banners within the street right-of-way and may approve a sign overhanging across a street to advertise a community event or festival.
[Amended 2-3-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-2]
Any vehicle, trailer or structure to which a sign is affixed in such a manner that the carrying of such sign(s) no longer is incidental to the primary purpose of the vehicle, trailer or structure, but instead becomes a primary purpose in itself, shall be considered a freestanding sign and shall be subject to all of the requirements for freestanding signs in the district in which such vehicle, trailer or structure is located.
Signs advertising a use no longer in existence (other than a sign relating to a building that is clearly temporarily vacant and being offered to new tenants or for purchase) shall be removed within 180 days of the cessation of such use.
A. 
Sign area shall include all lettering, wording and accompanying designs and symbols, together with related background areas on which they are displayed. One freestanding sign may include several signs that are all attached to one structure, with the total sign area being the area of a common geometric form that could encompass all signs.
B. 
The sign area shall not include any structural supports that do not include a message.
C. 
Where the sign consists of individual letters or symbols attached to or painted directly on a building or window, other than an illuminated background that is a part of the sign, the sign area shall be the smallest rectangle that includes all of the letters and symbols.
D. 
The maximum sign area of a sign shall be for each of two sides of a sign, provided that only one side of a sign is readable from any location.
E. 
Unless otherwise specified, all square footages in regards to signs are maximum sizes.
See the light and glare control provisions in Article V and § 295-113B.
A. 
Signs legally existing at the time of enactment of this chapter and which do not conform to the requirements of this chapter shall be considered nonconforming signs.
B. 
An existing lawful nonconforming sign that was lawful when it was initially placed may be replaced with a new sign, provided the new sign is not more nonconforming in any manner than the previous sign. A nonconforming sign shall not be expanded in a manner that does not conform to this chapter.
C. 
Unlawful signs. If a sign was placed without a required permit by the Township and does not comply with this chapter, it shall not be considered lawful and shall be required to be removed. See the enforcement notice requirements in Article I.