Chesterfield Charter Township, MI
Macomb County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Board of the Charter Township of Chesterfield 9-22-2020 by Ord. No. 183.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 52, Signs, adopted 8-21-2006 by Ord. No. 129, §§ 1.00 through 10.00 and 14.00, as amended.
Signs may be erected or maintained within Chesterfield Township only as permitted by this chapter and subject to other restrictions contained in this chapter. The sign regulations of this chapter are intended to ensure that signs are located, designed, sized, constructed, installed, and maintained in a way that protects and promotes safety, health, aesthetics, and the public welfare while allowing adequate visual communication.
The following municipal interests are considered by the Township to be compelling government interests. Each interest is intended to be achieved in a manner that represents the least restrictive means of accomplishing the stated interest, and in all events intended to promote an important government interest that would not be effectively achieved absent the regulation. Regulating the size and location of signage in the most narrowly tailored manner represents the least restrictive means of addressing the targeted government interests of avoiding nuisance-like conditions while maintaining and improving pedestrian and vehicular safety and efficiency; character and quality of life; economic development and property values; and property identification for emergency response and wayfinding purposes.
(a) 
Pedestrian and vehicular safety.
(1) 
Maintaining pedestrian and vehicular safety are predominant and compelling government interests throughout the Township, with a particular emphasis on the safety of pedestrians. Sidewalks, paths, and crosswalks provide facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the Township, even in automobile-oriented commercial areas. The Township recognizes that pedestrian traffic in the commercial areas serves a variety of business, entertainment, government, and residential uses in the commercial areas. In addition, the Township also accommodates automobile-oriented businesses and other land uses that generate motor vehicle trips.
(2) 
Since most signage is intended and designed to attract the attention of operators of motor vehicles, thereby creating distractions from vigilance for traffic and pedestrian safety, this chapter is intended to regulate signs such as to reduce such distractions and, in turn, reduce the risk for crashes, property damage, injuries, and fatalities, particularly considering the rate of speed at which the vehicles are traveling in these districts which can lead to an increased rate of pedestrian fatalities.
a. 
The Township encourages signage that will inform pedestrians regarding their desired locations without conflicting with other structures and improvements in these districts, while concurrently allowing effective signage for motorists. These interests are legitimately supported by limiting the maximum size (area and height) of signage, providing setbacks where relevant, and specifying minimum-sized characters for efficient perception by motorists and pedestrians, while minimizing distractions that could put pedestrians at risk.
b. 
In some circumstances, adjusting the size, setback, and other regulations applicable to signage may be important to avoid confusion and promote clarity where vehicular speeds vary on commercial thoroughfares.
c. 
In multitenant buildings and strip centers, it is compelling and important to provide distinct treatment with a gradation of regulation for individual tenant identification depending on base sign size, amount of road frontage, and the like, all intending to provide clarity to alleviate directional confusion and thus additional traffic maneuvers, provide a minimum size of characters to allow identification, and maintain maximum-sized overall signage to prevent line-of-sight issues.
d. 
Maximum size and minimum setback of signage is compelling and important to maintain clear views for both traffic and pedestrian purposes.
(b) 
Character and quality of life. Achieving and maintaining attractive, orderly, and desirable places to conduct business, celebrate civic events, entertain people, and provide for housing opportunities is directly related to the stability of property values needed to provide and finance quality public services and facilities within the Township. This chapter intends to allow signs that are of sufficient, but not excessive, size to perform their intended function as necessary to provide and maintain the Township's desired character and support neighborhood stability. Signs that promote the potential conflict between vehicular and pedestrian targeted messages, hinder sight distance, and distract from the pedestrian experience will be prohibited in an effort to preserve the character and unique experience within the Township. Also, the intent of this chapter is that signs will reflect the character of unique districts as may be established by the Township's Master Plan, other adopted plans, or the Zoning Ordinance.
(c) 
Economic development and property values. It is found and determined that there is a clear relationship between the promotion of a set of specifications and restrictions for signage and the promotion of economic development, recognizing that unregulated and haphazard determinations concerning the size, location, and other characteristics of signs has a realistic tendency to result in an unsightly appearance that reduces economic development, and, in the long-term, property values. In addition, the establishment of the restrictions in this chapter has a direct relationship to creating stability and predictability, allowing each private interest to secure reasonable exposure of signage, and thus promote business success. The application of the restrictions in this chapter allows businesses to reasonably command attention to the unregulated content and substance of their messages while concurrently allowing the promotion of other visuals, including types of business, landscaping, and architecture, all promoting economic development and property value enhancement.
(d) 
Avoidance of nuisance-like conditions. Due to the concentration of people and activities, there is a potential for, and it is a compelling interest to avoid, blight, physical clutter, and visual clutter in the Township, recognizing that such conditions tend to create nuisance-like conditions contrary to the public welfare. The result of these conditions leads to diminished property values, reduced attractiveness of the community, and reduced quality of life within the districts. Minimum regulations that substantially relate to signage are compelling and important, and are necessary for the maintenance and well-being of positive conditions, good character, and quality of life in the Township. Ultimately, these regulations are compelling and important for the protection of all police power values.
(1) 
An excessive number of signs in one location creates visual blight and clutter, as well as public confusion. Thus, limiting the number of signs on properties, and establishing setbacks from property lines is a compelling interest that can be directed with minimum regulation.
(2) 
Signs that are too large and not properly spaced can lead to confusion, undermine the purposes of the signs, and ultimately lead to physical and visual clutter. Establishing maximum sizes and locations can be the subject of clear and effective regulations that address this compelling and important interest.
(3) 
Requiring minimum construction and maintenance specifications for signs can minimize the creation of blight and clutter due to the deterioration of signs that are not durable or otherwise well-constructed. These requirements can be enforced with efficient and low discretion application and review.
(4) 
This chapter is designed to prevent blight and protect aesthetic qualities by preventing visual clutter and protecting views. There is a compelling governmental interest that signs avoid glare, light trespass, safety, and skyglow. A framework that enables the selection of proper fixture type(s) and location, use of supportive lighting technology, and control of light levels in a reasonable fashion is consistent with regulations that are narrowly tailored to achieve the Township's interests.
(e) 
Property identification for emergency response and wayfinding purposes. Locating a business or residence by emergency police, fire, and other emergency responders can be a matter of life and death, and thus it is a compelling interest to ensure that proper, understandable, unambiguous, and coordinated signage be permitted and required, and specifications for such purposes can be accomplished in a simple and narrow manner. Wayfinding for vehicular and pedestrian purposes is also a compelling interest to avoid confusion in public rights-of-way, and unnecessary intrusions on private property, and sign specifications for such wayfinding can be coordinated with property identification for emergency purposes.
(f) 
Protection of the right to receive and convey messages. The important governmental interests contained herein are not intended to target the content of messages to be displayed on signs, but instead seek to achieve non-speech objectives. In no respect do the regulations of signage prohibit a property owner or occupant from an effective means of conveying a desired message. Nothing in this chapter is intended to prohibit the right to convey and receive messages, specifically noncommercial messages, such as religious, political, economic, social, philosophical or other types of speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The following signs are prohibited:
(a) 
Any sign that is not specifically permitted by this chapter is prohibited.
(b) 
Any sign that gives the appearance of motion, including moving, scrolling, animated, or flashing elements. This includes changes of illumination levels and color, except as approved by special event permit. See Section 52-5(b)(10) for standards relating to changing electronic message signs.
(c) 
Exterior pennants, spinners, inflatables, feather signs, and streamers.
(d) 
Any sign which is structurally or electrically unsafe.
(e) 
Any sign erected on a tree, street furniture, wall surfaces (except permitted wall signs or projecting signs) or utility pole.
(f) 
Rope light, string light, neon, or similar lighting attached to, surrounding or otherwise drawing attention to a sign unless expressly permitted in limited applications within this chapter.
(g) 
Any sign erected on or projecting into the public right-of-way, except signs expressly permitted in the right-of-way in this chapter.
(h) 
Signs that limitate a traffic control device.
(i) 
Cloth signs.
(j) 
Changeable copy signs, except as part of a permanent sign as provided in this chapter.
(k) 
Signs mounted on, painted on, projecting from, or otherwise located on the roof of a building.
(l) 
Signs that are created as a result of an illuminated projection.
(a) 
General rules for reading and applying the chapter language.
(1) 
Reading and applying the chapter. Literal readings of the chapter language will be used. Regulations are no more or less strict than as stated. Application of the regulations that are consistent with the rules of this chapter are nondiscretionary actions of the Ordinance Officer to implement the chapter. The action of the Ordinance Officer is final.
(2) 
Situations where the chapter is silent. Where the chapter is silent, or where the rules of this chapter do not provide a basis for concluding that a sign is allowed, said sign is therefore prohibited.
(3) 
In cases where an applicant does not agree with the interpretation or application of chapter language from the Ordinance Officer, the applicant may request an interpretation by the Planning Commission.
(b) 
Defining words. Words used in the chapter have their dictionary meaning unless they are listed and described otherwise.
(c) 
Tenses and usage.
(1) 
Words used in the singular include the plural. The reverse is also true.
(2) 
Words used in the present tense include the future tense. The reverse is also true.
(3) 
The words "shall," "must," "will," and "may not" are mandatory.
(4) 
"May" is permissive.
(5) 
When used with numbers, "up to x," "not more than x," and "a maximum of x" all include x.
(d) 
Conjunctions. Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the following conjunctions have the following meanings:
(1) 
"And" indicates that all connected items or provisions apply.
(2) 
"Or" indicates that the connected items or provisions may apply singly or in combination.
(3) 
"Either . . . or" indicates that the connected items or provisions apply individually, but not in combination.
(e) 
Lists. Lists of items that state "including the following," "such as," or similar language are not limited to just those items. The lists are intended to provide examples, but not to be exhaustive of all possibilities.
(a) 
Sign area.
(1) 
For permanent signs, except projecting and hanging signs, sign area shall constitute the entire area within a rectangle or the sum of rectangles enclosing the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem or any figure of similar character, regardless of opacity or missing space within the extreme limits. Any single row of text shall be grouped into one continuous rectangle.
(2) 
For nonilluminated freestanding signs, background and support structure area shall not exceed three times the calculated sign area as described in Section 52-5(a)(1) above, provided that Section 52-5(a)(3) below is met.
(3) 
When an internally or externally illuminated sign has a nonreflective, black background, the area that is outside the extreme limits described in Section 52-5(a)(1) above shall not count towards sign area (See Section 52-6 for limits of freestanding signs). Otherwise, the entire illuminated background shall be included in the sign area calculation.
(4) 
For temporary signs and all projecting, window and hanging signs, the extreme limits of the sign, including all background elements, regardless of opacity, are included in the calculation of sign area.
(5) 
In the case of a wall sign where there is no frame or other material forming an integral part of the display or used to differentiate such sign from the background against which it is placed, the rectangle envelope(s) shall be around the letters, logos, emblems, figures, pictures, etc. See Figure 1. Also, for any wall sign with a background light that projects on the wall behind the sign (halo or glow light), the illuminated wall shall be included in the sign area calculation.
(6) 
In the case of an awning or canopy sign, where there is no design or envelope forming an integral part of the display which differentiates the sign from the background of the awning material or color, the rectangle envelope(s) shall be around the letters, logos, emblems, figures, stripes, etc. In the case of transparent or translucent awnings or canopies which have internal lighting, the entire surface of the awning or canopy shall be considered as the sign.
(7) 
For a single-faced sign, the area shall be computed as the total exposed exterior surface in square feet.
(8) 
The area of a double-faced freestanding sign shall be computed using only one face of the sign, provided that the outline and dimensions of both faces are identical and that the faces are back-to-back so that only one face is visible at any given location.
(9) 
In the case of double-faced or multifaced signs that are arranged so that the faces are greater than 24 inches from one another, or signs with any two faces that form a "V" in plan, where the angle of the "V" is greater than 15°, the area shall be computed by totaling the sign area of all faces of the sign. The area of a cylindrical sign shall be computed by measuring the total area of all signs on the cylinder.
Figure 1
Sign Area Calculation
Figure 2
Sign Area Calculation
(b) 
Sign illumination.
(1) 
See Section 52-3(a) for regulations that prohibit certain types of illuminated signs.
(2) 
The source of illumination may be internal or external. The source of the light shall not be exposed except for lighting that is integral for the use of an electronic message sign, which is regulated herein.
(3) 
Glare. Glare control for sign lighting shall be achieved through the use of full cutoff fixtures, shields, and baffles, and appropriate application of fixture mounting height, wattage, aiming angle, and fixture placement.
(4) 
Luminaire design. All sign luminaires shall be shielded to direct light to only the sign and shall contain shields, baffles or other appropriate elements to prevent direct light from extending above a horizontal plane extending from the top of the light source. No luminaire shall be aimed or directed such as to cause light from the luminaire to be directed toward residential buildings on adjacent or nearby land or public ways.
(5) 
Mounting of external sign lights. Lighting fixtures used to externally illuminate an outdoor sign shall be mounted on the top of the sign structure unless there is some other barrier, such as an extended soffit, that will keep light from spilling beyond the sign face or into the night sky. All such fixtures shall comply with the shielding requirements of this chapter.
(6) 
Outdoor signs of the following types do not require shielding: 1) signs constructed of translucent materials and wholly illuminated from within, 2) signs with a halo-type design, where the lighting source is blocked by the opaque letters, numbers or other sign content. Note, when halo lighting is used, the illuminated wall area is included in the sign area calculation: See Section 52-5(a)(5). For signs with translucent panels, dark backgrounds with light lettering or symbols are preferred to minimize glare and excessive light output.
(7) 
Architectural enhanced lighting, mounted on the exterior of a building, such as neon accent lighting or exposed neon tubing, may be permitted by the Planning Commission upon a finding that all of the following conditions are met: 1) the proposal is in character with the use and area and 2) the accent lighting or tubing is obscured from view by an opaque or translucent material. Notwithstanding the above, one two-square-foot exposed neon or LED tube sign may be permitted within one window of any commercial business located in a C-1, C-2, C-3 or C-4 District. The area of this sign shall count towards allowable total window sign area.
(8) 
All electric signs and outline lighting shall be installed in accordance with all applicable codes and laws adopted by the Township. Every electric sign of any type, fixed or portable, shall be listed and installed in conformance with that listing, unless otherwise permitted by special permission.
(9) 
Light from illuminated signs shall comply with the light trespass provisions enacted in the Chesterfield Township Zoning Ordinance.
(10) 
Electronic message signs.
a. 
An electronic message sign may serve as one partial component of a permanent freestanding sign and is permitted up to a maximum of 25% of the total permanent sign area per sign face.
b. 
Electronic message signs shall not emit more than 3,000 nits in full daylight and 150 nits at nighttime, which commences no later than one hour after sunset and extends through no earlier than sunrise. The displays shall transition smoothly at a consistent rate from the permitted daytime brightness to the permitted nighttime brightness levels. All electronic message signs shall have functioning ambient light monitors and automatic dimming equipment which shall at all times be set to automatically reduce the brightness level of the sign proportionally to any reduction in the ambient light. In order to verify compliance with this chapter or other applicable law, the interface that programs an electronic message sign shall be made available to Township staff for inspection prior to operation during the permitting process and upon request. If the interface is not or cannot be made available upon the Township's request, the sign shall cease operation until the Township has been provided proof of compliance with the Chesterfield Township Sign Ordinance.
c. 
Electronic message signs shall not change messaging more often than once per 30 seconds.
d. 
Electronic message signs shall not, and shall not appear to, flash, scroll, travel, undulate, pulse, blink, expand, contract, bounce, rotate, spin, twist, or otherwise move. Transitions from message to message shall be done in an instant.
e. 
All electronic message signs shall default to an unlit black screen when more than 50% of the light source fails or if the light source otherwise is not displaying properly.
(11) 
Changeable copy signs (nonelectronic message signs). A nonelectronic message sign may serve as one component of a permanent freestanding sign and is permitted up to a maximum of 33% of the total permanent sign area per sign face. The sign may be internally or externally illuminated in accordance with the regulations of this chapter.
(12) 
Hours of operation. All sign illumination shall be extinguished between 10:00 p.m. or one hour after the close of business, whichever is later, and 6:00 a.m. or one hour before the opening of a business, whichever is earlier.
(13) 
Temporary signs shall not be illuminated.
(c) 
General location standards.
(1) 
No sign shall be located in, project into or overhang a public right-of-way or dedicated public easement unless otherwise expressly permitted herein. (See projecting and hanging signs in Table 6A.) Signs that are located in, project into or overhang a public right-of-way or dedicated Township easement may be removed by the Township without notice. Before any sign that has been removed by the Township is returned to the owner, a fee in the amount of established by resolution of the Township Board shall be paid to the Township Treasurer for costs associated with the removal and storage of the sign.
(2) 
No sign shall interfere with the clear vision sight triangle at driveways and intersections, as established under corner clearance in the Chesterfield Township Zoning Ordinance, Section 76-69, and other applicable laws and regulations.
(3) 
All signs shall be affixed to a building or to the ground.
(4) 
No signs shall be located so as to impede pedestrian or automobile traffic.
(5) 
In no case shall any sign be closer than 10 feet to any property line, road right-of-way or road easement except for permitted projecting and hanging signs (See Table 6A.) and temporary signs.
(6) 
All signs shall meet the following minimum setbacks as measured in feet from the center line of each road right-of-way (ROW) in accordance with the Township's Master Plan:
Road Type
(See Master Plan)
Setback Distance in Feet
Regional (204-foot ROW)
112
Regional or Major (150-foot ROW)
85
Major (120-foot ROW)
70
Secondary (120-foot ROW)
70
Collector (86-foot ROW)
53
Local (70-foot ROW)
45
Local (60-foot ROW)
40
Freeway1
20
Private roads2
20
NOTES:
1
Setbacks for signs along freeways shall be measured from the established right-of-way lines.
2
Measured from the road easement or common usage line.
(d) 
Safety/maintenance.
(1) 
Signs, including the face, framing and all supports thereof, shall be kept and maintained in a safe condition, shall be adequately protected against corrosion and shall conform to all the provisions of this chapter.
(2) 
Signs which are broken, torn, bent or whose supports are broken, bent or damaged, and signs that are not reasonably level and plumb shall be repaired and reinstalled in a manner prescribed by the Building Official or his/her designee.
(3) 
A sign shall have no more than 20% of its surface area covered with disfigured, cracked, rippled or peeling paint, poster paper or other material for a period of more than 30 successive days.
(4) 
A sign shall not stand with bent or broken sign facing, with broken supports, with loose appendages or struts, or more than 15° from vertical for a period of more than 30 successive days, unless determined by the Building Official or his/her designee to pose a safety hazard, in which case immediate action may be required.
(5) 
A sign shall not have weeds, vines, or other vegetation growing upon it for a period of more than 30 successive days.
(6) 
An internally illuminated sign shall not be allowed to stand with only partial illumination for a period of more than 30 successive days.
(7) 
Any sign erected or displayed without a permit, unless expressly exempt from a permit by the Township ordinances, or any sign which does not comply with the provisions of this chapter may be deemed a hazard to the safety of the public and declared to be a public nuisance per se.
(8) 
All signs shall be maintained in good structural condition, in compliance with all building and electrical codes, and in conformance with this chapter. Failure to comply with this section may result in action by the Building Official or his/her designee. If, upon inspection by the Building Official, a sign is found to be unsafe, insecure, corroded or otherwise poorly maintained, then the owner shall complete any necessary reconstruction, repairs, painting or other improvements in accordance with the following timetable, unless the sign is required to be removed by the nonconforming sign regulations herein:
a. 
If the Building Official determines that the sign is an immediate threat to the safety of persons or property nearby, all required action to correct the defect shall be taken within 48 hours (two working days) from the time of notification in writing from the Township, provided that the sign can be cordoned off or adequately secured during the intervening time so as to remove any immediate threat to safety. If such sign cannot be cordoned off or secured so as to eliminate any immediate threat to the safety of persons or property, then all required action to correct the defect shall be made forthwith.
b. 
If the Building Official determines that the sign is not an immediate threat to the safety of persons or property, all required action to correct the defect shall be made within 30 days after notification in writing from the Township. The Building Official may extend the thirty-day timetable if temperatures below 32° F. prevent painting, or if the defects involved are minor, not generally noticeable to the public, and not a hazard to public safety (such as replacement of burned out light bulbs).
(9) 
Any sign structure now or hereafter existing which no longer conveys a message or contains a sign shall be removed.
(e) 
Addresses. Addresses shall be visible and legible from the public right-of-way. Addresses 12 inches or less in height in residential districts and 24 inches or less in height in nonresidential districts shall not be included in the calculation of total sign area and may be illuminated without time restrictions.
(f) 
Substitution. Noncommercial messages shall be permitted on any sign constructed or erected in compliance with this chapter.
(a) 
Permanent signs table in nonresidential districts. Permanent signs in nonresidential districts shall be regulated as follows. The total maximum permitted sign area for all signs shall not exceed the maximum sign area permitted for wall signs:
Table 6A
Signs by District
Nonresidential Districts
Sign Type
Maximum Sign Area
Maximum Height
Placement
Maximum Number of Signs
Projecting and hanging signs
See maximum number of signs.
Projecting and hanging signs: minimum 8 feet above grade
Projecting signs: maximum 30 feet above grade but not above the top of the building's highest wall plate
Projecting signs: The outside edge of the sign shall not project more than 4 feet from a wall of a building.
Hanging signs: under a first floor canopy, awning or other similar projecting above an entryway
1 per business facade, provided that the total sign area does not exceed the total permitted area for wall signs
Freestanding signs
1 square foot/linear foot of street frontage up to 64 square feet with a 20-square-foot minimum1
8 feet
See Section 52-6(c)
1 per street frontage, provided there is 200 feet of diagonal spacing between freestanding signs
Driveway signs
3 square feet maximum per sign
42 inches
Adjacent to driveway(s), at least 10 feet from property line and driveway
1 per driveway that intersects with public road
Wall signs3
1 square foot/linear foot of ground floor building frontage or 24 square feet, whichever is greater4
Shall not project more than 12 inches horizontally beyond the wall5
3; the total of all signs shall not exceed the maximum sign area for wall signs. One sign shall equal at least 50% of total provided sign area of all wall signs.
Awning and canopy signs
No more than 25% of the awning or canopy area
No higher than the top of awning.
For canopies and other building projections that located are above building entryways, no higher than top of projection2
Awnings: on the awning surface; placement on drip edge is preferred.
Canopies and other building projections located above building entryways: on face of canopy or projection
1 per business facade, provided that the total sign area does not exceed the total permitted area for wall signs
Notes to Table 6A:
1
The following also applies:
a.
Permitted uses with over 80,000 square feet of floor area and over 300 feet of road frontage on a single road shall be permitted two freestanding signs. The signs shall be evenly spaced along the frontage. If the Planning Commission determines that the architectural features of the sign, such as stone or brick framing, are in harmony with the surrounding area and the principal structure, the architectural features shall not count as part of the sign area.
b.
Shopping centers, strip centers, and permitted uses with over 300 linear feet of building facade facing a road may be permitted an additional 1 square foot of sign area for each additional 1.5 linear feet of building facade above the 300 feet noted above. In no case shall a freestanding sign be larger than 125 square feet, regardless of building length.
c.
The maximum height of freestanding signs that are over 64 square feet in area shall be 12 feet.
2
Individual metal letters, numbers, and similar content, up to 12 inches high, may be placed above the top of the projection or canopy.
3
Uses with permitted freestanding canopies, such as gas stations, shall be permitted one sign on the facia of the canopy that is street-facing (canopy facia sign), with one sign permitted per street frontage, with a maximum area of 10 square feet per sign. The sign shall be placed on a canopy facia with a solid color.
4
Maximum area shall be 160 square feet, provided that businesses with storefronts that are set back from the road a distance greater than 200 feet are permitted to modify the maximum sign area (X) by a factor of 2.5 times X, up to a maximum of 400 feet.
5
Wall signs shall placed as follows: One-story building: Between the top of the ground floor windows and the bottom of the cornice or other element that defines the top of the building or to the side of ground floor windows. Two-story building: Between the top of the ground floor windows and the bottom sill of the second-floor windows. Three stories or more: Same as two- story building or, alternatively, shall be placed above or alongside the upper floor windows below the bottom of the cornice or other element that defines the top of the building.
(b) 
Permanent signs table in residential districts. Permanent signs in residential districts shall be regulated as follows. The total maximum permitted sign area for all signs shall not exceed the maximum sign area permitted for wall signs:
Table 6B
Signs by District
Residential Districts
Sign Type
Maximum Sign Area
Height
Placement
Maximum Number of Signs
Wall signs: single- and two-family dwellings
2 square feet
Shall be below the eave line for the ground floor1
Entire sign within 4 feet of the front door
1 per dwelling
Wall signs: multiple-family dwellings (3 or more units)
12 square feet per building
See2
See2
1 per building
Wall signs for permitted nonresidential uses
20 square feet
See2
See2
1 per building
Freestanding signs: multiple-family dwellings and permitted and special land uses that are nonresidential
32 square feet per parcel containing 5 or more dwelling units or a permitted or special land use
8 feet maximum
10 feet minimum from all property lines
1 per parcel
Awning and canopy signs for nonresidential permitted and special land uses
No more than 25% of the awning or canopy area, provided that the sign area shall count towards the total allowable wall sign area.
No higher than the top of awning.
For canopies and other building projections that are located above building entryways, no higher than top of projection, provided that individual metal letters, numbers, and similar content, up to 12 inches high, may be placed above the top of the projection or canopy.
Awnings: on the awning surface; placement on drip edge is preferred.
Canopies and other building projections located above building entryways: on face of canopy or projection. Individual metal letters, numbers, and similar content, up to 12 inches high, may be placed above the edge of the projection.
1 per business or institutional facade
NOTES:
1
For single-story dwelling, signs shall no higher than two feet above front door.
2
Wall signs shall placed as follows: One-story building: between the top of the ground floor windows and the bottom of the cornice, eave or other element that defines the top of the building or, for single- and two-family dwellings, within four feet of the front door. Two-story building: between the top of the ground floor windows and the bottom sill of the second-floor windows or, for single- and two-family dwellings, within four feet of the front door. Three stories or more (where permitted): same as two-story building or, alternatively, shall be placed above or alongside the upper floor windows below the bottom of the cornice or other element that defines the top of the building.
(c) 
Additional permanent sign regulations for all districts. Permanent signs shall be regulated by the following additional requirements:
(1) 
All projections into right-of-way and sidewalk areas from wall, hanging, marquee, awning or projecting signs shall have an eight-foot minimum clearance to the sidewalk or similar surface below.
(2) 
The changeable copy portion of a sign shall not exceed 33.3% of the total sign area.
(3) 
Changeable copy signs shall only be permitted as part of a freestanding sign.
(4) 
If a changeable copy sign is electronic, the standards in Section 52-5(b)(10) also apply.
(5) 
Signs shall not have a width-to-length or length-to-width ratio that exceeds 4:1 except that wall signs shall not exceed an 8:1 ratio.
(d) 
Outdoor advertising (OA) signs. Outdoor advertising signs shall meet the following:
(1) 
Outdoor advertising signs shall be located only within 100 feet of the 1-94 right-of-way. In addition, the OA sign shall be located in one of the following districts: C-3, C-4, RT, M-1, and M-2 or on Township-owned property.
(2) 
No OA sign shall be within 1,500 feet of another such sign structure. Also, no OA sign shall be located within 5,000 feet of another such sign on the same side of the 1-94 freeway. OA signs shall not be adjacent to or within 500 feet of an interchange, road or highway crossing on the same side of the highway, nor shall such sign be located within 200 feet of a zoning district boundary.
(3) 
No OA sign shall be located within 500 feet of a single-family residential zoning district.
(4) 
No OA sign shall block or restrict visibility of other uses or buildings, whether on- or off-site.
(5) 
OA signs shall be of a single- or two-pole construction. All poles will be wrapped in brick, stone or cultured stone to create the appearance of a stone build. If a single pole is used, it shall be located at the extreme end of the sign face and a second stone build column will also be provided at the opposite end of the sign face, even though it may or may not provide support for the sign face. When two poles are used, they will be located at opposite ends of the sign face. Additionally, the sign face shall be wrapped in the same or complementary brick, stone or cultured stone material. (See Figure 4.)
(6) 
Maximum height shall be 25 feet. (See Figure 4.)
(7) 
Maximum sign area shall not exceed 300 square feet. In the case of back-to-back signs, each side shall not exceed 300 square feet in area.
(8) 
V-shaped billboards shall not exceed an angle of 30°. Each side shall not exceed 300 square feet in area.
(9) 
Outdoor advertising signs shall be constructed in such a manner that they will withstand wind forces of 90 miles per hour (minimum). Signs shall be properly maintained and shall not be allowed to become unsightly through disrepair or action of the elements.
(10) 
When electronic message signs are provided as part of an OA sign face, they shall not emit more than 3,000 nits in full daylight and 150 nits at nighttime. All electronic OA signs shall have functioning ambient light monitors and automatic dimming equipment which shall always be set to automatically reduce the brightness level of the sign proportionally to any reduction in the ambient light. In order to verify compliance with the Sign Ordinance or other applicable law, the interface that programs an electronic message sign shall be made available to Township staff for inspection during the permit process (prior to first operation) and upon request. If the interface is not or cannot be made available upon the Township's request, the sign shall cease operation until the Township has been provided proof of compliance with the Chesterfield Township Sign Ordinance. Electronic message signs shall not change messaging more often than once per 30 seconds. Electronic OA signs shall not, and shall not appear to, flash, scroll, travel, undulate, pulse, blink, expand, contract, bounce, rotate, spin, twist, or otherwise move. All electronic OA signs shall default to an unlit black screen when more than 50% of the light source fails or if the light source otherwise is not displaying properly.
(11) 
The area around and beneath the OA sign shall be landscaped with a combination of low height vegetation. Examples include ornamental grasses, shrubs, and annual and perennial flowers.
Figure 4
The figure below represents a ten-foot-high by thirty-foot-wide 300-square-foot digital OA sign with brick surrounds and columns. It is 25 feet high, which is the maximum height for an outdoor advertising sign.
(a) 
Window signs in residential districts are permitted in ground floor and second floor windows. The total window sign area shall not exceed three square feet per dwelling unit.
(b) 
Window signs in all other districts shall not exceed 15% of the total window area of any given facade.
(c) 
Applied or etched lettering or designs that are within the lower eight inches of any ground floor window shall be permitted and shall not be considered part of the total area of window or wall signs, provided that they do not exceed 80% of the width of any ground floor window to or on which they are placed. Additionally, the total area of applied or etched lettering shall not exceed 0.5 square foot per linear foot of building frontage.
(d) 
Window signs may be illuminated subject to Section 52-5(b) and shall contain a static message and shall not flash, scroll or otherwise give the appearance of movement or intermittent change. Rope light, string light, neon, or similar lighting attached to, surrounding or otherwise drawing attention to a window or sign shall be prohibited.
(a) 
Temporary signs shall be permitted as follows:
Table 8A
Maximum Area per Sign Face, Maximum Height, and Allowed Temporary Signs
District
Permitted Types
Maximum Area of All Temporary Signs by Type
Maximum Area of Any Individual Sign
Maximum Height (freestanding)
Residential
Freestanding
0.2 square foot (sf) of sign area per linear foot of street frontage for the lot, provided that the maximum allowable total area shall not be less than 15 square feet nor more than 35 square feet
6 square feet
5 feet
Wall1
3 square feet per building in single-family residential districts; 12 square feet per building in multiple-family residential districts
3 square feet in single-family districts; 12 square feet per building in multiple-family residential districts
Cannot extend higher than the roof eave or bottom of other building top such as a cornice
Nonresidential
Freestanding
0.5 square foot of sign area per linear foot of street frontage for the lot, provided that the maximum allowable total area shall not be less than 30 square feet nor more than 50 square feet
20 square feet
6 feet
Wall1
20 square feet per building
20 square feet
Cannot extend higher than the roof eave or bottom of other building top such as a cornice.
NOTE:
1
The display period for temporary wall signs, including banners, shall be limited to a total of 28 days per calendar year. Such signs shall not be displayed for any continuous period greater than 14 days. After this time expires, the sign shall be removed. See Section 52-10 for permit requirements.
(b) 
The following additional regulations also apply to temporary signs.
(1) 
Freestanding temporary signs shall be setback five feet from all property lines.
(2) 
Three square feet of temporary freestanding or temporary wall sign area is allowed on each zoning lot at any time and without expiration of display time. No permit is required for this sign.
(3) 
In addition to the three-square-foot temporary sign that is always allowed, other temporary freestanding signs may be erected for a maximum display time of 30 days for up to two times per year. (See Table 8A.) Unless otherwise specified in this chapter, all temporary signs require a permit from the Building Official when located in a nonresidential district. In all cases, the sign area limits in the Table 8A shall apply.
(4) 
During a period of active construction on a new residential subdivision or condominium, any new multifamily residential development or any new nonresidential building, one additional twenty-square-foot temporary freestanding sign, six feet maximum height, shall be permitted for the duration of construction.
(5) 
In addition to the above-permitted freestanding signs, the Township will establish up to four display periods per year, commencing prior to an election where there is at least one ballot item listed, where temporary signs may be displayed without a permit for up to 65 days, commencing 60 days prior to an election and concluding four days after the election. After this time expires, the sign(s) shall be removed. In all cases, the regulations in the Table 8A shall apply except that temporary sign permits shall not be required.
(6) 
When all or a portion of a building or land area on a zoning lot is listed or advertised for sale or lease, the maximum display time for temporary signs shall be the duration the building, building unit or land is listed or advertised for sale or lease. Once a building unit is leased or sold, the sign shall be removed if it has been displayed for more than 65 days. In all cases, the sign regulations in the Table 8A shall apply.
(7) 
Temporary signs shall be constructed of durable, all-weather materials and designed to remain in place and in good repair so long as they remain on display; provided, however, that each zoning lot may have one temporary freestanding sign up to three square feet constructed of any nonilluminated material. All temporary freestanding signs larger than three square feet shall have a frame or rigid border or be of a rigid material.
(8) 
Temporary signs shall be subject to the maintenance standards of this section.
(a) 
Unless otherwise provided in this chapter or other applicable law, nonconforming signs may be used, maintained, or repaired in the same form and type as they existed at the time they became nonconforming.
(b) 
No nonconforming sign:
(1) 
Shall be changed to another nonconforming sign.
(2) 
Shall have any change made in the structure, shape, size, sign type, design, or mechanical or electrical equipment of the sign unless the change brings the sign into compliance with this chapter; however, the Building Official may order repair of a nonconforming sign for safety.
(3) 
Shall be reestablished or maintained after it is abandoned for 90 days or longer.
(4) 
Shall be repaired or erected after being damaged if the repair or erection of the sign would cost more than 50% of the cost of an identical new sign.
(5) 
Shall have any change made that would result in different type of or greater illumination of the sign or change a nonluminescent sign to a luminescent sign.
(6) 
Shall have any change made to add mechanical or electronic features, except monitors to regulate brightness in accordance with this Code.
(c) 
If the owner of a sign or the premises on which a sign is located changes the location of a sign or changes the use of a building so that any sign on the premises is rendered nonconforming, such sign must be removed or made to conform to this chapter.
(d) 
Any sign erected in a residential district that is a nonconforming sign shall be taken down and removed by the owner, agent or person within 48 hours after written notice from the Township.
(e) 
Any nonconforming sign that is abandoned shall be taken down and removed by the owner, agent or person having the beneficial use of the building, structure or land within 60 days from the date of written notice from the Township. Where such a sign structure and frame are typically reused by the current occupant or other user, the building owner shall not be required to remove the sign structure and frame in the interim periods when the building is not occupied, provided that the sign structure and frame are maintained in accordance with this chapter and other relevant Township ordinances and codes, and provided, further, that the time period of non-use does not exceed 90 days.
(f) 
Any sign in office, business and industrial districts which is nonconforming as to size, projection, location, number of signs, position, material or construction shall be taken down, removed, repaired, rebuilt or replaced in such a manner as to bring the sign into compliance by the owner, agent or person having the beneficial use of the building, structure or land by March 30, 2027.
All signs regulated by this chapter, except temporary signs in residential districts, window signs, and freestanding temporary signs in nonresidential districts, that are erected, altered, relocated or maintained are subject to a permit from the Township in accordance with the following regulations:
(a) 
Application for sign permit. Application for sign permits shall be made upon forms provided for by the Township and shall contain or have attached thereto the following information:
(1) 
Name, address and telephone number of the applicant.
(2) 
Location of building, structure, or lot to which the sign is to be attached or erected.
(3) 
Position of the sign in relation to nearby buildings, structures and property lines.
(4) 
Copies of the drawings of the plans and specifications and method of construction and attachment to the building or in the ground.
(5) 
Copy of stress sheets and calculations, if deemed necessary, showing the structure as designed for dead load and wind pressure in accordance with regulations adopted by the Township.
(6) 
Name and address of the person, firm, corporation or association erecting the structure.
(7) 
Insurance policy or bond as required herein.
(8) 
Such other information as the Township may require showing full compliance with this and all other applicable laws of Chesterfield Township and the State of Michigan.
(9) 
When public safety requires it, the application containing the aforesaid material shall, in addition, bear the certificate or seal of registered architect or engineer as a condition to the issuance of a permit as determined by Planning and Zoning and Building Department requirements.
(10) 
Permit applications for illuminated electronic signs shall include a copy of the manufacturer's specifications for luminance.
(11) 
The number of plans to be submitted shall be established by resolution of the Township Board.
(12) 
The Planning and Zoning Administrator or his/her designee shall be the approving body for all signs except outdoor advertising signs, which are subject to Planning Commission approval. Additionally, following approval the Planning and Zoning Administrator, Building Department approval is required for all signs as required by the Township to satisfy building, electrical, fire and other related construction codes.
(b) 
Permit fee. The fees for sign permits shall be established by resolution of the Township Board.
(c) 
No permit shall be required for ordinary servicing, repainting of existing sign message or cleaning of a sign. No permit is required for change of message of a sign designed for periodic message change without change of structure, including a bulletin board or billboard.
(a) 
The Planning Commission may vary dimensional provisions of this chapter upon a finding of all of the following:
(1) 
There are special circumstances or conditions, such as the existence of buildings, topography, vegetation, sign structures, lot dimensions, or other matters on the lot or on adjacent lots or within the adjacent public right-of-way, which would substantially restrict the effectiveness of the sign in question; provided, however, that such special circumstances or conditions must be peculiar to the particular business or enterprise or lot to which the applicant desires to draw attention, and do not apply generally to other businesses or enterprises. Any variance shall be granted only to the extent of rendering equity with the rights granted by this chapter to others with similar uses in similar districts.
(2) 
Strict enforcement of the provisions of this chapter would serve no useful purpose.
(3) 
The type of sign structure and the location proposed would not pose a significant risk to the public health, safety and welfare.
(4) 
The benefit of the sign to the general public and/or applicant under the circumstances outweighs any risk to traffic safety and the Township's desire to eliminate the accumulation of visual clutter in accordance with the stated purpose of this chapter.
(5) 
A variance would be in the interest of the Township and not against the spirit and intent of this chapter.
(b) 
In issuing a variance from the strict letter of the provisions of this chapter, the Planning Commission may grant a variance of any dimensional sign requirement and may place reasonable conditions or restrictions upon issuance of a permit to protect the health, safety and welfare of the Township. The Planning Commission may grant a lesser variance than the one requested.
(c) 
In no case shall the Planning Commission grant approval of a sign not otherwise permitted in this chapter for the applicable use and district in which it is located.
(d) 
Decisions of the Planning Commission shall be final. No appeal process is available through the Township.
(a) 
Inspections. A person who owns or controls a sign and a person who owns or controls the property where a sign is located shall make the sign available for Township staff to inspect for compliance with Township code or ordinances or other applicable law upon the Township's request.
(b) 
It shall be unlawful for any person to erect, construct, maintain, enlarge, alter, move or convert any sign in Chesterfield Township, or cause or permit the same to be done, contrary to or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. A violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be a civil infraction punishable with a fine of not more than $500 and not less than $100, plus costs and all other appropriate remedies. Each day that a violation continues shall be deemed a separate violation. Any sign constituting an immediate hazard to health and safety shall be deemed a nuisance and may be removed by the Township, without notice, at the expense of the owner of the sign and assessed under the provisions of this Code. In addition, except for those signs which may be removed and destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the Township in accordance with this chapter, any unlawfully erected, altered or maintained sign may be removed by the Township at the expense of the sign owner and assessed under the provisions of this Code after said sign owner has been ordered in writing to remove said sign by the Township and has refused to do so without providing justification for so refusing at a hearing to be held by the Planning and Zoning Administrator. The Township Attorney may apply to a court of appropriate jurisdiction for an order requiring the removal of a sign in violation of this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING
A permanent structure for human occupation.
BUSINESS
Any legal use of a building, other than for a home occupation, or residence by a person, firm or corporation. Although contained in the same building as another business and owned by the same person, an activity may be treated as a separate business if it is physically separated from, uses different personnel than, and provides different products or services than such other related business.
CANOPY
A roof structure, free of enclosing walls, that is freestanding or extends from a building for the purpose of providing shelter over an entryway.
CHANGEABLE COPY
That portion of a sign that is designed or used to display characters, letters, words, or illustrations that can be readily changed or rearranged by manual, mechanical, or electronic means without altering the face of the sign.
DIRECT LIGHT
Light emitted directly from a light source.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE SIGN
A sign with a fixed or changeable display or message composed of a series of lights that may be changed through electronic means.
EXTERIOR SIGN
Any sign other than an interior sign.
FIXTURE
The assembly that houses the lamp or lamps and can include all or some of the following parts: a housing, a mounting bracket or pole socket, a lamp holder, a ballast, a reflector or mirror, and/or a refractor or lens.
FREESTANDING SIGN
Any and every sign erected on or affixed to the land and any and every exterior sign that is not attached to a building.
FRONTAGE, BUILDING
The portion of a building facing a street that is occupied by a single business, measured in linear distance.
FRONTAGE, STREET
The portion of a lot abutting a street, measured in linear distance
FULL CUTOFF
A fixture that meets the standards of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), which means that the luminous intensity (in candelas) at or above an angle of 90° above nadir is zero, and the luminous intensity (in candelas) at or above a vertical angle of 80° above nadir does not numerically exceed 10% of the luminous flux (in lumens) of the lamp or lamps in the luminaire.
GLARE
Light emitting from a luminaire with intensity great enough to reduce a viewer's ability to see and, in extreme cases, causing momentary blindness.
HANGING SIGN
A sign that hangs perpendicular to a building wall and is supported by or attached to the underside of a structure canopy, structure arcade, covered entrance, awning or marquee.
ILLUMINATED or ILLUMINATION
Lighting of a sign by any type of artificial light, whether by emission or reflection.
INTERIOR SIGN
A sign within the walls of a building.
LAMP
The component of a luminaire that produces light.
LIGHT TRESPASS
Light falling over property lines that illuminates adjacent grounds or buildings.
LOT, ZONING
A single tract of land, located within a single block, which at the time of filing for a sign permit is designated by its owner or developer as a tract to be used, developed or built upon as a unit, under single ownership or control.
LUMINAIRE
A complete lighting system, which includes a lamp or lamps and a fixture.
MARQUEE
Any permanent roof-like structure projecting above the entrance to a place of assembly, attached to and supported by the building and projecting beyond the wall of the building.
MARQUEE SIGN
Any sign attached to a marquee.
MAXIMUM HEIGHT
The distance from grade to the highest edge of the sign surface or its projecting structure.
MINIMUM HEIGHT
The distance from grade to the lowest edge of the sign surface or its projecting structure.
NIT
A measure of luminance equal to one candela per square meter
NONCONFORMING SIGN
A sign that was lawfully permitted at the time it was erected but is not permitted under current law. This does not include any temporary sign, banner, or placard, including signs affixed to the interior or exterior of windows.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
A sign other than an on-premises sign.
ON-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which advertises only goods, services, facilities, events, or attractions on the premises where located.
ORDINANCE OFFICER
The Chesterfield Township Building Official or his/her designee.
OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGN
A freestanding sign with a sign area in excess of 125 square feet.
PREMISES
The contiguous land in the same ownership or control which is not divided by a public street.
PROJECTING SIGN
A sign other than a wall sign, which is perpendicularly attached to, and projects from a structure or building wall not specifically designed to support the sign.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY or RIGHT-OF-WAY
For purposes of this chapter only, all public streets, highways, sidewalks and alleys.
ROOF SIGN
Any sign erected, constructed, and maintained upon or over the roof of any building and projecting above the roofline.
SANDWICH BOARD SIGN (A-FRAME SIGN)
A temporary sign regulated per Section 52-8 of this Code.
SIGN
Any display or object which is primarily used to identify or display information about or direct or attract attention to a person, institution, organization, business, product, event, location or otherwise, or any religious, political, social, ideological or other message, by any means, which is visible from any public street, sidewalk, alley, park, or public property and is otherwise located or set upon or in a building, structure or piece of land. The definition does not include goods displayed in a window.
SKYGLOW
Light from a luminaire that is emitted above the horizontal plane that passes through the lowest part of the luminaire.
TEMPORARY SIGN
A display sign, banner or other advertising device constructed of cloth, canvas, fabric, plastic or other light temporary material, with or without a structural frame, or any other sign intended for a limited period of display that is not permanently anchored to the ground or building.
WALL PLATE
A structural element, usually horizontal, situated along the top of a wall at the level of the eaves for bearing the ends of joists of a ceiling or rafters or trusses of a roof. "Plate height" is the distance, measured vertically plumb, between the highest point on the top of the uppermost wall plate of the exterior wall that bears the building's highest roof structure and the existing grade directly below that point.
WALL SIGN
A display which is painted on or attached directly to the building wall or door.
WINDOW SIGN
A sign that is applied, painted, posted, displayed, or etched onto a glazed surface, regardless of opacity or perforation, including those placed or posted inside and located within 20 feet of the window that are visible and legible from the exterior as determined by the Planning Director or authorized designee.