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Village of Cassopolis, MI
Cass County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
State Law reference —  Highway advertising act, MCLA 252.301 et seq.
This article is intended to regulate the size, number, location and manner of display of signs in the Village in a manner consistent with the following purposes:
A. 
To protect and further the health, safety and welfare of Village residents, property owners and visitors.
B. 
To prevent traffic hazards and pedestrian accidents caused by signs which obstruct vision, distract or confuse drivers, or are improperly secured or constructed.
C. 
To conserve and enhance community character.
D. 
To promote uniformity in the size, number and/or placement of signs within zoning districts.
E. 
To promote the economic viability of commercial areas by minimizing visual clutter and allowing for proper placement of signs to safely direct motorists to their destination.
F. 
To balance the public's right to be informed and its desire to avoid visual pollution and hazardous conditions with the desire of business and nonbusiness uses to communicate by means of signs.
G. 
To maintain and enhance the Village's aesthetic environment in a manner that is consistent with the public health, safety and welfare.
See § 370-3 for definitions pertaining to signs.
All signs not expressly allowed under this article (unless exempted from regulation under this article) are prohibited in the Village. Further, the following signs are expressly prohibited:
A. 
Portable signs, except as allowed by this article.
B. 
Any sign, including window signs, which have flashing, moving, oscillating or blinking lights (excluding time and temperature and digital signs which are permitted, provided that their message does not change more frequently than once every 12 seconds).
C. 
Roof signs.
D. 
Signs mounted on vehicles which are not in active use by the business or activity advertised, whether located on-premises or off-premises.
E. 
Nonaccessory signs.
The following signs shall be exempt from the provisions of this article, except for the provisions of § 370-437:
A. 
Governmental signs.
B. 
Temporary memorial signs.
C. 
Signs for essential services.
D. 
Community service signs.
E. 
Nameplate signs of 216 square inches or less when located on a gate or entrance or wall of a principal residence.
F. 
Political signs supporting or opposing a political candidate, party or ballot issue.
G. 
Home occupation signs, limited to four square feet flat mounted to building.
The following signs shall not require a permit, but shall be subject to all other applicable regulations of this article:
A. 
Noncommercial signs.
B. 
Directional signs not exceeding two square feet in area.
C. 
Construction signs.
D. 
Signs for residential yard sales and garage sales as regulated in Section 42-441 of this Code.
E. 
Real estate signs as regulated in this article.
F. 
Community special event signs.
G. 
Up to 15 square feet of changeable copy board when attached to not more than one conforming freestanding sign per parcel/lot in commercial and industrial districts.
H. 
Reserved signs.
I. 
Political signs supporting or opposing a political candidate, party or ballot issue shall be posted 30 days prior to election and removed within five days after election.
A. 
Permits required. No sign requiring a permit shall be erected, used, constructed or altered until a permit has first been obtained under this section. A sign permit shall not be issued for a sign unless the sign fully complies with the requirements of this article. The property owner shall at all times maintain in force a valid sign permit for any sign requiring a permit.
B. 
Application. Application for a sign permit shall be made to the Village along with a fee in the amount established by resolution of the Village Council. The permit application shall be reviewed in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) 
Required drawing and information. An application for construction, creation or installation of a new sign or for alteration of an existing sign shall be accompanied by detailed drawings and accompanying narrative statements to show and describe the dimensions, design, structure, setback, and location of each sign. A single application and permit may include multiple signs on the same lot.
(2) 
Completeness. After receiving an application for a sign permit, the Village Planning Commission shall review it for completeness. If the Village determines that it is complete, the application shall then be processed. If the application is determined to be incomplete, the Village shall send the applicant a written notice specifying how the application is deficient.
(3) 
Issuance or rejection. After the submission of a complete application for sign permit, the Village shall, within 10 business days, either issue the sign permit, if the sign that is the subject of the application conforms in every respect with the requirements of this article; or reject the sign permit application if the sign that is the subject of the application fails in any way to conform with the requirements of this article, and so notify the applicant.
C. 
Electrical permits. All signs requiring electrical service will need an electric permit and shall be reviewed for compliance with the Village electrical code. Approval of electrical service shall be noted on or attached to the sign permit.
A. 
All signs shall be properly maintained in good structural condition in compliance with the requirements of this article and shall not be permitted to deteriorate through disrepair or as a result of the effects of the weather. Under no circumstances shall the design, construction, support, or location of a sign constitute in any way a hazard to the health, safety or welfare of the public or to adjacent property.
B. 
Signs located within 150 feet of a residential district may not be internally illuminated. All illumination must be focused directly on the sign surface with not greater than one footcandle of illumination emanating from the sign, measured at the property line.
C. 
Signs shall not be placed in, upon or over any public right-of-way, alley or place, except as may be otherwise permitted by the County Road Commission or State Department of Transportation. Any sign installed or placed in the public right-of-way or otherwise on public property, except in compliance with the provisions of this article, shall be forfeited to the public and subject to confiscation and may be immediately removed by the Village. In addition to other available remedies, the Village shall have the right to recover from the owner or person placing an unauthorized sign the full cost of removal and disposal of the sign.
D. 
A sign shall not be erected in any place where it may, by reason of its position, shape, color, or other characteristic, interfere with, obstruct the view of, or be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal, device, or constitute a nuisance.
E. 
A sign shall not contain any moving or animated parts, except for time and temperature signs and digital signs as regulated herein, and highway billboards as regulated by the state.
F. 
Except as otherwise expressly allowed by this article, all signs shall be constructed of permanent materials and shall be permanently attached to the ground, a building, or another structure by direct attachment to a rigid wall, frame, or structure. The sign support and construction for all signs requiring permanent attachment shall be able to withstand a minimum of 30 pounds of horizontal pressure per square foot of the area of the sign.
G. 
A sign and its supporting mechanism shall not extend beyond any lot lines of the property on which it is located.
The following regulations are applicable to signs in all zoning districts:
A. 
All signs shall be stationary and, except for noncommercial signs and community special event signs, shall pertain to the business or activity conducted on the premises except as otherwise permitted in this article.
B. 
Real estate signs are permitted in any zoning district but shall be removed within one week after completion of the sale or lease of the property.
C. 
For parcels which have frontage on more than one street, one additional freestanding sign per street frontage may be allowed subject to the following:
(1) 
The permitted additional sign shall not be placed along the same frontage that contains another freestanding sign.
(2) 
A minimum of 40 feet of street frontage is required for the placement of an additional sign.
D. 
Temporary construction signs are permitted in any district subject to the following restrictions:
(1) 
Signs shall be no larger than 32 square feet and shall be located not closer than 10 feet from the right-of-way with a maximum height of 10 feet.
(2) 
Any such temporary construction signs shall be removed not later than the placement of a permanent sign installed pursuant to this article.
E. 
Community special event signs are permitted in any zoning district subject to the following restrictions:
(1) 
A community special event sign may be located either on or off premises where the event is being held. Any sign off premises must have a letter giving permission from the property owner given to the Village hall.
(2) 
The sign may be erected no earlier than three weeks prior to the event that is being advertised.
(3) 
The sign shall have a maximum size of 32 square feet in area and a maximum height of six feet and shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all property lines.
(4) 
All signs shall be removed within 48 hours of the conclusion of the special event that is being advertised.
F. 
Directional signs are permitted in all zoning districts subject to the following restrictions:
(1) 
A directional sign shall not contain a commercial message.
(2) 
Such sign shall not exceed two square feet in area or three feet in height, and shall be set back at least five feet from any lot line and edge of any driving lane.
G. 
Noncommercial signs are permitted in all zoning districts.
H. 
All signs located in the Village shall be erected, altered, and maintained at the risk of the owner of the sign, who shall assume full responsibility for any consequences of any damages caused by the sign.
I. 
A sign shall be removed by the owner within 24 hours of receipt of notice from the Village stating that the sign does not comply with the requirements of this article by reason of its height, size, design, condition or location. The notice shall state that if the owner does not remove the sign, or correct the unsafe or improper condition within the specified time frame, the Village may remove the sign. Upon failure to remove or correct the unsafe or improper condition within 24 hours of receipt of the notice, the Village may take whatever action is necessary to have the sign removed or to otherwise abate the unsafe or improper condition and in addition to other remedies, the Village shall have the right to recover from the owner of the sign the full costs of removing and disposing of the sign or abating the unsafe or improper condition.
J. 
Temporary business signs are permitted in all commercial and industrial districts subject to the following requirements:
(1) 
A maximum of two signs may be used to identify a special, unique or limited activity, service, project, promotion or sale of limited duration.
(2) 
A sign permit shall be obtained prior to the installation of the signs.
(3) 
All signs must be located on the same lot that is advertised.
(4) 
No more than four permits for signs shall be issued for the same premises within one calendar year. The signs shall not be used in excess of 15 calendar days and shall be removed within three days of the termination of the sign permit.
K. 
Signs located within 100 feet of a residential district shall be limited to not more than 50% of the maximum allowable sign area permitted in the district.
A. 
Measurement of sign area. The area of a sign shall be measured as the area within a single, continuous perimeter composed of any straight line geometric figure which encloses the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, logo, or any other figure of similar character, together with any frame of other material or color forming an integral part of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the background against which it is placed, excluding only the pedestal, poles or other structures necessary to support the sign.
B. 
Signs with two or more faces. The area of a freestanding or projecting sign that has two or more faces shall be measured by including the area of all sign faces, except that if two such faces are placed back-to-back and are of equal size and are no more than two feet apart at any point, the area of the two back-to-back faces shall be counted as one face. If the two back-to-back faces are of unequal size, the larger of the two sign faces shall be counted as the face.
C. 
Height. The height of a sign shall be measured as the vertical distance from the highest point of the sign to the finished grade of the ground immediately beneath the sign excluding any artificially constructed earthen berms.
The following signs are permitted in R-1 and R-2 Districts:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings. Only one sign per street frontage is allowed.
B. 
Freestanding signs. For uses other than dwellings. One sign per parcel is allowed except as provided by § 370-438C. Maximum height is 10 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from the front lot line and a minimum of 15 feet from all other lot lines.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all signs above shall not exceed 32 square feet in aggregate per parcel, and no single sign shall exceed 24 square feet.
D. 
Residential subdivision signs. One sign identifying a platted subdivision, site condominium or other residential development is allowed at each entrance road to the development, except that not more than two signs shall be allowed per development. The sign shall not exceed 24 square feet in area and shall be located a minimum of 10 feet from the street right-of-way. Maximum height shall be five feet above grade if freestanding.
E. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwellings, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height and shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all lot lines.
F. 
Yard or garage sale sign. For residential uses, signs are permitted for the duration of the event.
G. 
Nameplate signs: as identified in § 370-3, Subsection (18) of "Sign" definition.
The following signs are permitted in the R-3 district:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings. Only one sign per street frontage is allowed.
B. 
Freestanding sign. For uses other than dwellings. One sign per parcel is allowed except as provided by § 370-438C. Maximum height shall be 10 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from the front lot line.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all signs above shall not exceed 50 square feet in aggregate per parcel, and no single sign shall exceed 24 square feet.
D. 
Residential subdivision signs. One sign identifying a platted subdivision, site condominium or other residential development is allowed at each entrance road to the development, except that not more than two signs shall be allowed per development. The sign shall not exceed 24 square feet in area and shall be located a minimum of 10 feet from the street right-of-way. Maximum height shall be five feet above grade if freestanding.
E. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwellings, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height; and for multifamily and nonresidential uses, a maximum area of 32 square feet, with a maximum height of 10 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of eight feet from all lot lines.
F. 
Yard or garage sale sign. For residential uses, signs are permitted for the duration of the event.
G. 
Nameplate signs: as identified in § 370-3, Subsection (18) of "Sign" definition.
The following signs are permitted in the C-1 and PUD Districts:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings. Only one sign per street frontage is allowed.
B. 
Freestanding sign. For uses other than dwellings. One sign per parcel is allowed except as provided by § 370-438C. Maximum height shall be 15 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from all lot lines.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all signs above shall not exceed 80 square feet in aggregate per parcel, and no single sign shall exceed 40 square feet.
D. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwellings, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height; and for multifamily and nonresidential uses, a maximum area of 32 square feet, with a maximum height of 10 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all lot lines.
The following signs are permitted in the C-2 District:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings. Only one sign per street frontage is allowed.
B. 
Freestanding sign. For uses other than dwellings, one sign per parcel is allowed except as provided by § 370-438C. Maximum height shall be 30 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from all lot lines.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all signs above shall not exceed 200 square feet in aggregate per parcel, and no single sign shall exceed 100 square feet.
D. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwellings, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height; and for multifamily and nonresidential uses, a maximum area of 32 square feet, with a maximum height of 10 feet, is permitted. Signs shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all lot lines.
E. 
Highway signs. One sign is permitted if the parcel/lot is within 200 feet of the M-60/M-62 right-of-way. Maximum size is 200 square feet and maximum height is 30 feet. The sign must be located a minimum of 10 feet from the M-60/M-62 right-of-way, and one foot of setback per each foot of sign height must be provided from all residential district boundaries.
F. 
Directional signs. Directional signs may be located as approved by the Village as necessary for traffic safety. No sign may exceed four square feet in area or a maximum height of four feet. Directional signs must be set back at least five feet from any property line unless placed upon a light pole or building.
G. 
Billboards. Not more than one billboard may be erected within 1,500 linear feet of another billboard located on the same side of a state or interstate highway. The measurement of 1,500 linear feet shall not be limited to the boundaries of the Village where the particular highway extends beyond such boundaries. Double-faced (back-to-back) structures shall be considered as one sign. V-type billboards, electronic message or changeable message signs shall not be allowed.
(1) 
The total surface of any billboard as viewed from a single location shall not exceed 400 square feet.
(2) 
No billboard shall be located within 500 feet of a residence.
(3) 
No billboard shall be located closer than 100 feet from the property line adjoining a public right-of-way or 50 feet from the interior boundary lines of the premises on which the billboard is located.
(4) 
No billboard shall be permitted where its size, height, illumination or location would unreasonably impair visibility, light and air otherwise enjoyed by occupants of adjacent premises.
(5) 
All state permits must be obtained as required by statute.
The following signs are permitted in the C-3 District:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings. Only one sign per street frontage is allowed.
B. 
Freestanding sign. For uses other than dwellings, one sign per parcel is allowed except as provided by § 370-438C. Maximum height shall be 30 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from all lot lines.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all signs above shall not exceed 120 square feet in aggregate per parcel, and no single sign shall exceed 80 square feet.
D. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwelling, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height; and for multifamily and nonresidential uses, a maximum area of 32 square feet, with a maximum height of 10 feet, is permitted. Signs shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all lot lines.
E. 
Directional signs. Directional signs may be located as approved by the Village as necessary for traffic safety. No sign may exceed four square feet in area or a maximum height of four feet. Directional signs must be set back at least five feet from any property line unless mounted on a building.
F. 
Sidewalk or sandwich board signs. Sandwich-board-type signs are permitted as follows:
(1) 
Only one sandwich board sign per commercial use is permitted.
(2) 
The signs cannot be wider than three feet and not taller than five feet.
(3) 
The sign must be located within 10 feet of the primary entrance of the establishment. Any approved sign must allow a minimum unobstructed sidewalk width of four feet.
(4) 
The sign cannot be 10 feet from the intersection of street right-of-way lines, measured along both right-of-way lines from the point of intersection.
(5) 
All signs must be portable and placed indoors daily at the close of business.
(6) 
Proof of liability insurance must be provided to the Village prior to issuance of the sign permit.
The following signs are permitted in the I-1 and I-2 Districts:
A. 
Wall signs. For permitted uses other than dwellings, no maximum number.
B. 
Freestanding sign. For uses other than dwellings. One sign per parcel is permitted except as provided by § 370438C. Maximum height shall be 25 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of five feet from the right-of-way and 10 feet from all private drives and other lot lines.
C. 
Size. Total square footage of all wall signs shall not exceed one square foot per 15 square feet of wall area with a maximum of 200 square feet. Freestanding signs shall not exceed 120 square feet per single sign with an aggregate maximum of 300 square feet.
D. 
Real estate sign. For single-family and two-family dwellings, one real estate sign per parcel is allowed. The sign shall not exceed six square feet in area and four feet in height; and for multifamily and nonresidential uses, a maximum area of 32 square feet, with a maximum height of 10 feet. Signs shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all lot lines.
E. 
Highway signs. One sign is permitted if the parcel/lot is within 200 feet of the M-60/M-62 right-of-way. Maximum size is 200 square feet and maximum height is 30 feet. The sign must be located a minimum of 10 feet from the M-60/M-62 right-of-way, and one foot of setback per each foot of sign height must be provided from all residential district boundaries.
F. 
Directional signs. Directional signs may be located as approved by the Village as necessary for traffic safety. No sign may exceed four square feet in area or a maximum height of four feet. Directional signs must be set back at least five feet from any property line unless placed upon a building.
G. 
Billboards. Not more than one billboard may be erected within 1,500 linear feet of another billboard located on the same side of a state or interstate highway. The measurement of 1,500 linear feet shall not be limited to the boundaries of the Village where the particular highway extends beyond such boundaries. Double-faced (back-to-back) structures shall be considered as one sign. V-type billboards, electronic message or changeable message signs shall not be allowed.
(1) 
The total surface of any billboard as viewed from a single location shall not exceed 400 square feet.
(2) 
No billboard shall be located within 500 feet of a residence.
(3) 
No billboard shall be located closer than 100 feet from the property line adjoining a public right-of-way or 50 feet from the interior boundary lines of the premises on which the billboard is located.
(4) 
No billboard shall be permitted where its size, height, illumination or location would unreasonably impair visibility, light and air otherwise enjoyed by occupants of adjacent premises.
(5) 
All state permits must be obtained as required by statute.
H. 
Entranceway signs. A sign depicting the name of the development or subdivision which is located at the entranceway to such development is permitted.
(1) 
The maximum size shall be 75 square feet in display area.
(2) 
The maximum height shall be five feet except if located in a required yard, in which case the maximum height shall be three feet.
(3) 
An entranceway sign shall be located within the triangular area formed by the intersection of any two public rights-of-way lines and the line between such public rights-of-way lines at points 25 feet distant from the point of their intersection.
(4) 
An entranceway sign located within a public right-of-way shall be subject to any and all conditions established by the Village and/or the County Road Commission, pursuant to an encroachment agreement between the developer and the affected jurisdiction.
I. 
Tenant locator signs. An industrial development or subdivision may erect one tenant identification or locator sign per development. The sign shall be set back not less than 10 feet from the right-of-way, shall not exceed 40 square feet in area and five feet in height, and is intended for the use of the public in identifying and/or locating individual businesses or tenants in the larger development.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former § 370-446, P Parking District, was repealed 11-25-2019 by Ord. No. 259.
A. 
Except as provided in Subsection B of this section, all signs approved in connection with special land uses or planned unit developments shall meet the requirements of this article for signs as applicable to the zoning district in which the special land use or planned unit development is located.
B. 
In cases where extenuating or extraordinary (not financially motivated) circumstances create practical difficulties in complying with the requirements of this article and where a modification of the requirements may still result in achieving the objectives of the zoning district in which the sign is to be located, the size, placement, number and height requirements for signs may be modified as provided in this section. If the sign is part of a planned unit development, the Planning Commission may recommend to the Village Council, and the Council may, in its discretion, modify the size, placement, number and height requirements for signs in the planned unit development. If the sign is part of a special use request, the Planning Commission alone may, in its discretion, modify the size, placement, number and height for any signs proposed. In determining whether to approve a proposed modification, the Planning Commission and the Village Council must each find, based upon the facts presented by the applicant, that the following criteria have been met:
(1) 
The modification of requirements is justified due to the nature, size, density, location or design of the proposed planned unit development, or special land use, including the design or placement of the proposed signs.
(2) 
The modification of requirements will not result in traffic or other safety hazards, will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of nearby property, will not result in visual blight, distraction or clutter and will not otherwise result in a detriment to the public health, safety or general welfare.
(3) 
The modification will still achieve the intended purpose of the planned unit development regulations or the zoning district for special uses where the sign is to be located.
A. 
Continuance. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article to the contrary, a permanent sign located on the property it solely pertains to which existed prior to adoption on November 10, 1997, but which does not conform to the height, size, area or location requirements of this article is deemed to be nonconforming and may continue to be used subsequent to that time, as provided by this section.
B. 
Alteration/repair. Nonconforming signs may not be altered as defined in this article, expanded, extended or repaired without being brought into full compliance with all applicable regulations under this article, except as expressly provided by this section.
(1) 
A nonconforming sign may be diminished in size or dimension without jeopardizing the privilege of nonconforming use. As with conforming signs, a change solely in the wording of the copy of a nonconforming sign shall not constitute an alteration for the purposes of this article, unless the results of the change would cause the sign to be reclassified to a type of sign subject to different or more restrictive regulations.
(2) 
Routine repairs to maintain a nonconforming sign in a safe and aesthetic condition exactly as it existed at the time of the enactment of this article and so as to continue the useful life of the sign shall not constitute an alteration for purposes of this article, unless the estimated cost of repair exceeds 50% of the appraised replacement cost of the entire sign prior to the repair, as estimated by the Village. If the estimated cost of repair exceeds 50% of the appraised replacement cost, the right to continue using the nonconforming sign shall thereupon terminate and the sign shall be brought into full compliance with all applicable provisions and requirements of this article prior to further use.
(3) 
In no event shall the alteration of a nonconforming sign result in an increase in the nature or degree of any aspect of the sign's nonconformity.
C. 
Signs accessory to nonconforming uses. A sign related to a nonconforming use may be erected in the Village in accordance with the sign regulation for the zoning district in which the property is located.
D. 
Damage or destruction. If a nonconforming sign is damaged or destroyed by fire, explosion, flood, wind or other calamity, the sign may be restored to the condition exactly as it existed immediately prior to the damage or destruction, unless the estimated cost of restoration or replacement exceeds 50% of the appraised replacement cost of the entire sign prior to the loss, as determined by the Village. If the estimated cost of restoration or replacement exceeds 50% of the appraised replacement cost, the right to continue using the nonconforming sign shall thereupon terminate and the sign shall be brought into full compliance with all applicable provisions and requirements of this article prior to further use.
Any sign that the Village determines to be abandoned shall be removed by the owner. If the owner does not remove the sign, or if no owner can be found, the Village may remove the sign. If the sign is removed by the Village and the owner is known, the Village shall have the right to recover from the owner of the sign the full costs of removing and disposing of the sign.
A. 
It is a violation of this article to install, create, erect, or maintain any sign that does not fully comply with the requirements of this article, including but not limited to any of the following:
(1) 
To install, create, erect or maintain any sign that is inconsistent with any plan or permit governing the sign or the lot on which the sign is located;
(2) 
To install, create, erect or maintain any sign requiring a permit without a permit;
(3) 
To fail to remove any sign that is installed, created, erected or maintained in violation of this article; or
(4) 
To continue any violation of this article.
B. 
Each sign installed, created, erected or maintained in violation of this article is considered a separate violation.