Borough of Emmaus, PA
Lehigh County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 701; as amended by Ord. 816, 8/7/1995, § 1]
1. 
Purposes. To recognize that signs perform an important function by identifying residences and businesses; to exercise the minimum control of signs that is necessary to promote the health, safety and general welfare by lessening hazards to pedestrian and vehicular traffic; to preserve property values by preventing unsightly and detrimental development which has a blighting influence upon residential, business and industrial uses; to prevent signs from reaching such excessive size that they obscure one another to the detriment of all concerned; and to seek that signs be compatible with the overall character and scale of the Borough.
2. 
See definitions of "sign" and "off-premises sign" in Part 2.
3. 
General. In all permitted districts, tethered balloons used primarily for advertising purposes and spotlights and signs may be erected, altered, maintained, used, removed or moved only in compliance with the provisions of this section and other regulations of the Borough relating to the erection, alteration, maintenance, use, removal or moving of signs and similar devices.
4. 
Sign Permits. All signs (other than real estate and auctioneer signs of six square feet or less or nonpermanent window signs or permitted garage sale signs or permitted political signs) shall require the issuance of a sign permit before erection or replacement unless Borough Council, by resolution, specifically exempts certain signs in certain locations from this requirement. All signs must comply with all of the regulations contained herein, regardless of whether a permit is required. No permit shall be required for a mere change of copy on a sign provided the sign is not increased in area or changed in location or made more nonconforming in any way.
A. 
Flags. Commercial establishments in all commercial and industrial districts may display flags (in addition to flags specified in subsection (2), below) as specified in § 27-704(15) (A), after first obtaining a sign permit. The fee for such a permit shall be waived provided such commercial establishment has already obtained a permit for other signs on the property.
B. 
Flags of any governmental unit or branch or of any charitable or religious organization, interior signs not visible from a public right-of-way or adjoining property and cornerstones built into or attached to a wall of a building are not regulated by this chapter.
5. 
Nonconforming Signs and Signs for Business Uses in a Residential District.
A. 
Signs in any district lawfully existing at the time of passage of this chapter which do not conform to the requirements of this chapter shall be considered nonconforming signs and may be continued.
B. 
If such a lawful on-premises nonconforming signs in a commercial or industrial district or any off-premises sign is removed, it shall only be replaced with a conforming sign. If such a lawful on-premises nonconforming sign in a residential district is removed, it may be replaced with a new noninternally illuminated sign that is no more nonconforming in any measurement than the previous sign.
C. 
Nonconforming signs may be repainted or repaired (including lighting) provided such action does not increase the dimensions of the existing sign. Copy may also be changed.
D. 
If a lawful principal business use is permitted or exists in a residential district, the signs for such use shall comply with the sign provisions of the B-C district.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 702]
1. 
The following definitions shall be used in determining whether signs meet the measurement and type requirements of this Part:
A. 
Building Face. The vertical area of a particular side of a building, but not including the area of any slanted roof.
B. 
Freestanding Sign. A sign which is self-supporting upon the ground or which is primarily supported by poles attached to the ground and not primarily supported by a building.
C. 
Height of Sign. The vertical distance measured from the average ground level surrounding a sign to the highest point of the sign and its supporting structure. Religious symbols, when not accompanied by lettering, shall not be restricted by the sign heights of this Part when attached to a tower or spire of a place of worship.
D. 
Illuminated Sign, Externally. A sign illuminated by light outside of the sign instead of within the sign.
E. 
Illuminated Sign, Internally. A sign illuminated by light from within the sign rather than a source adjacent to or outside of the sign. A sign within a display case with lights only shining onto the front of the sign shall be considered to be "externally" illuminated.
F. 
Off-Premises Sign. See Part 2.
G. 
Political Sign. A sign that 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.
H. 
Sign. See Part 2.
I. 
Wall Sign. A sign primarily supported by or painted on a wall of a building and which does not project more than 18 inches from such wall.
J. 
Window Sign. A sign which is readily visible and can be at least partially read from an exterior lot line and which is attached to a window or transparent door or that can be read through a window or transparent door and which is not internally illuminated.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 703]
1. 
The sign area of a sign shall be calculated as follows:
A. 
The size of any sign shall be computed by multiplying its greatest height by its greatest length, exclusive of supporting structures, unless such supporting structure is illuminated or is in the form of a symbol or contains advertising copy. In the case of signs that have no definable edges, such as raised letters attached to a building facade, the sign size shall be that area within a single continuous perimeter enclosing the extreme limits of the actual message or copy area.
B. 
The area of a sign shall be construed to include all lettering, wording and accompanying designs and symbols, together with the background, whether open or enclosed, on which they are displayed.
C. 
Where the sign consists of individual letters or symbols attached to or painted on a surface, building, wall or window, the area shall be considered to be that of the smallest rectangle which encompasses all of the letters and symbols.
D. 
In computing square foot area of a double-faced sign, only one side shall be considered, provided both faces are identical. If the interior angle formed by the two faces of a double-faced sign is greater than 45°, then both sides of such sign shall be considered in calculating the sign area.
E. 
Unless otherwise specified, all square footages in regards to signs are maximum sizes.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 704; as amended by Ord. 816, 8/7/1995, § 2; and by Ord. 1009, 12/4/2006]
1. 
Signs With Zoning Information. No sign shall be erected, containing information on it which states or implies that a property may be used for any purpose not permitted under the provisions of this chapter in the zone in which the property to which the sign relates is located.
2. 
Outdated Signs. On-premises signs advertising a use no longer in existence or a product no longer available shall be removed or changed to advertise the new use or product within 30 days after cessation of the original use or offering of the project, except for signs related to building space that is actively for rent. Signs once removed shall be replaced only by signs in conformance with this chapter.
3. 
Hazards. No sign shall be so located or arranged that it interferes with traffic through glare, through blocking of reasonable sight lines for streets, sidewalks or driveways, through confusion with a traffic control device (by reason of color, location, shape or other characteristic), or through any other means.
4. 
Construction. All signs, except temporary signs, shall be constructed of durable material and kept in good condition and repair. Illuminated signs shall be subject to the National Electrical Code [Chapter 5].
5. 
Illumination. Signs may be illuminated by direct lighting but shall have such lighting shielded so no direct light will shine on abutting properties or in the normal line of vision of the public using the streets or sidewalks. No flood or spot lights shall be mounted higher than 25 feet above ground level. See also illumination regulations in the B-C district.
6. 
Real Estate Signs. In any district, temporary signs may be permitted within the lot lines, advertising the prospective or completed sale or rental of the premises upon which it is located, not exceeding six square feet in area within any residential or conservation district and not exceeding 23 square feet in area within business and industrial districts provided that the sign shall be removed within seven days after occupancy of a rental unit or settlement of a sale. A maximum of one such sign shall be permitted per lot, except that if a lot has frontage on more than one street, then a second such sign shall be permitted.
7. 
Construction/Proposed Development Signs. In all districts, nonilluminated temporary signs may be permitted on current, approved or officially under review construction sites for new buildings or rehabilitation projects involving a value of more than $100,000 provided such signs do not exceed a total of 32 square feet in total sign area and provided such signs shall be removed within 14 days after completion of the construction work and provided not more than one sign shall be placed on each street frontage of the construction site. See also § 27-706(A)(6) for other tradesperson's signs.
8. 
Nonprofit Event Sign. In any district, Borough Council may permit by simple approved motion nonilluminated temporary signs announcing a public educational, charitable, civic, religious or similar campaign or event by a U.S. Internal Revenue Service-recognized nonprofit organization or a committee or agency sponsored by the Borough, county or state government for a total period per sign not to exceed 45 days in any calendar year; provided, such signs do not exceed 35 square feet in area and are removed within seven days after the conclusion of the campaign or event.
9. 
Street Rights-of-Way. No signs except those of a duly constituted governmental body (including traffic signs and similar regulatory notices) shall be allowed partially or wholly within the existing street right-of-way unless specifically authorized by other ordinances and regulations of the Borough, and in compliance with PennDOT regulations, or as provided in § 27-707(A)(3) below in the B-C District. For banners across a state street, see PennDOT regulations.
10. 
Wall Signs. If an establishment has walls fronting on two or more streets, the sign area for each street may be computed separately.
11. 
Roof Signs. No sign except such directional devices as may be required by the federal and state aviation authorities, shall be extended above or be inscribed upon the roof or upon any structure which extends above the roof of any building.
12. 
Vehicle Signs. Any vehicle to which a sign is affixed in such a manner that the carrying of such sign or signs no longer is incidental to the vehicle's primary purpose but becomes a primary purpose in itself shall be considered a freestanding sign and as such be subject to the provisions regarding freestanding signs in the district in which such vehicle is located.
13. 
Off-Premises Signs. See § 27-708(D).
14. 
Illumination. No internally illuminated sign shall be located so as to face any residential or conservation district on the same side of the street on which the property bearing the sign fronts. This provision shall not apply to signs at right angles to the street right-of-way line of such street.
15. 
Special Event Signs and Displays. Flashing signs, flood lights, promotional or advertising flags, spotlights, lasers, banners, twirling, "A" type sandwich signs, sidewalk or curb signs and balloons or devices shall only be permitted for a new business and an existing business for special occasions not more than four times a year in a commercial or industrial district for a period of not more than a total of 15 days in a calendar year. At no other time shall such device be permitted.
A. 
Flags. "Open" flags, or flags containing a pictorial representation of the business or holiday season are permitted in all commercial and industrial districts, provided such flags are: (1) a maximum of three feet by five feet, (2) are in good repair, (3) are attached by a pole; and, (4) are displayed in such a way as not to be an obstruction to pedestrian traffic nor create a safety hazard. The purpose of such a flag is to advertise to the public that said commercial establishment is open for business. The flags shall be displayed only during operating business hours. A maximum of one such flag shall be permitted per each commercial establishment.
16. 
Setbacks. Freestanding signs shall be setback a minimum of four feet from the existing street right-of-way line, except for business parking signs as provided in subsection (21), below. No freestanding sign in other than a residential or conservation district shall extend within 25 feet of any residential or conservation district boundary line. Signs for service stations shall not be located within any street right-of-way.
17. 
Wall Signs. Wall signs shall not extend beyond the edge of the length of any wall to which they are mounted, and shall not horizontally project more than 18 inches from such wall or surface.
18. 
Projecting Signs. No projecting sign shall project more than 3.5 feet from the wall or surface to which they are mounted, nor in any way shall they interfere with normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
19. 
Clearance over Sidewalk. All signs projecting more than three inches from a building shall maintain at least nine feet of vertical clearance above a sidewalk and shall not project over a street.
20. 
Miscellaneous Structures. All sign provisions of this chapter shall apply to smoke stacks, water towers and other similar structures.
21. 
Parking Signs. In the B-C, B-G, B-L and I-L districts, signs identifying off-street parking areas associated with a business or other allowable use in these districts may be permitted, in addition to the other allowable signs identifying the business or other use; provided, that:
A. 
The sign is not located within and does not extend into the street right-of-way.
B. 
The sign area of each sign does not exceed four square feet.
C. 
The sign meets all applicable requirements of this Part.
D. 
The sign contains only the name of the establishment for which the parking area is provided, plus the word "parking," or "parking in rear" or "parking" plus an arrow.
22. 
Political Signs. See definition in § 27-702. Political signs are permitted in all districts, provided that such signs are not posted on any public park property, or within the existing right-of-way of public streets:
A. 
Each sign does not exceed four square feet.
B. 
Such signs are posted a maximum of 60 days prior to the election or vote they relate to, and are removed within 14 days after such election or vote.
C. 
Provided such signs are not posted: (1) on Borough property, (2) within the existing right-of-way of public streets; or, (3) on a utility pole using staples or metal fasteners.
23. 
Garage Sale Signs. See the Borough Garage Sale Ordinance, as amended [Chapter 13, Part 2].
24. 
Auctioneer Signs. In any district, temporary signs may be permitted within the lot lines, advertising the prospective or completed sale or rental of goods at the premises upon which it is located, not exceeding six square feet in area within any residential or conservation district and not exceeding 32 square feet in area within business and industrial districts, provided that the sign shall be removed within seven days after the date of sale. A maximum of one such sign shall be permitted per lot, except that if a lot has frontage of more than one street, than a second sign shall be permitted.
25. 
Commercial Advertising Signs. In the B-C, B-H, and B-L Districts, any on-premise movable sign limited in size to eight square feet, utilized for promoting or advertising a commercial purpose or use. Only one sign is allowed per business, and it must be located in front of the business. There are no restrictions on the hours that the sign can be used. The business is required to obtain a yearly permit by payment of a fee as determined by the Borough Council.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 705; as amended by Ord. 1009, 12/4/2006]
1. 
The following signs are specifically prohibited in all districts, in addition to any sign that is not specifically permitted in a district:
A. 
Signs which in any way simulate official, functional, directional or warning signs erected or maintained by the United States Government, the state, county, the Borough, or any railroad or public utility or similar agency concerned with the protection of public health or safety.
B. 
Banners, spinners, flags, pennants or any moving object used for commercial advertising purposes whether containing a message or not, except as stated in § 27-704(15).
C. 
Any flashing, electronically changing messages, LED, blinking, twinkling, animated or electrically moving signs of any type, except time and temperature signs. This prohibition for LED signs does not apply to the B-L, B-H, and I-L Districts. This restriction does not prohibit Christmas lighting displays.
D. 
Mobile/Portable Signs. On-premises commercial advertising signs of more than eight square feet in sign area that are not permanently attached to the ground and that are intended to be able to be moved from site to site, except as specifically permitted by this Part.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 706]
1. 
The following signs shall be permitted in all residential districts and in the CR District, in addition to signs specifically permitted in all districts by § 27-704:
A. 
On-Premises Signs.
(1) 
Official traffic signs and other official federal, state, county and Borough governmental signs.
(2) 
Identification Signs. Signs displaying only the name and address of the occupant of the premises provided that the area of any such sign shall not exceed one square foot and not more than one such sign shall be erected on each premises.
(3) 
Signs for bulletin or announcement boards for identification of permitted principal nonresidential buildings (such as places of worship and schools) provided that the area of any such sign shall not exceed eight square feet. Not more than two such signs shall be placed on each lot.
(4) 
Real Estate Signs. As provided for in § 27-704(6).
(5) 
No trespassing signs and signs indicating the private nature of a road, driveway or premises, provided that the area of any such sign shall not exceed two square feet.
(6) 
Contractor Sign. One temporary sign per lot erected in connection with the actual rehabilitation, building addition or trades person work on the premises by a contractor, painter, electrician or similar trades person provided that the aggregate area of such sign shall not exceed 10 square feet. Such sign shall be removed within 10 days after such work is completed and shall not be posted prior to the actual initiation of such work on site after receiving a Borough construction, plumbing or electrical permit. See § 27-704(7) for construction signs.
(7) 
Nonprofit Signs. As specified in § 27-704(8).
(8) 
Signs for identification of a permitted home occupation provided that the area of any such sign shall not exceed one square feet and provided such sign is not illuminated.
(9) 
Signs for Lawful Business Uses. See § 27-701(5).
(10) 
Other signs specifically permitted by § 27-704, within the regulations of that section.
B. 
Miscellaneous Signs. Signs necessary for direction, regulation and control of traffic, official street name signs, legal notices, warnings at railroad crossings and other official signs which are similarly authorized or erected by a duly constituted governmental body are permitted.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 707; as amended by Ord. 937, 11/5/2001, § 5]
1. 
The following signs shall be permitted in the B-C district, in addition to signs permitted in all districts by § 27-704:
A. 
On-Premises Signs.
(1) 
All signs permitted in § 27-706(A) at the standards prescribed therein except as otherwise provided in this section and in § 27-704. The number of signs shall be limited to two when fronting on one street and three when fronting on two streets. There shall be no more than two signs on any one street.
(2) 
Wall and projecting signs, as follows:
(a) 
See § 27-704, subsections (17), (18) and (19).
(b) 
Wall signs shall not be placed at a height greater than 25 feet.
(c) 
Except as provided in subsection (e), below, the total area of all wall signs shall not exceed 40 square feet.
(d) 
Window signs (other than temporary paper or cardboard signs) shall be considered wall signs and included in the maximum sign requirements. Such window signs in any case shall not exceed 25% of the total window area on each street.
(e) 
In the case of a shopping center or two or more stores or business uses on a lot held in single and separate ownership, the provisions of this section relating to the total area of signs permitted on a lot shall apply with respect to each building or separate principal establishment. Each individual establishment shall be permitted one wall sign. However, in such case, the total building face area permitted to be covered by signs shall not exceed 15% of the area of the building face.
(f) 
Only one freestanding business sign shall be permitted in the B-C district per lot, which shall have a maximum sign area of 25 square feet on each of two sides and a maximum height of eight feet. See setbacks in § 27-704(16).
(g) 
Any new signs shall be of a type which is harmonious with existing conforming signs.
(3) 
Projecting Signs. In addition to all other signs and total sign area permitted in the B-C district, one projecting sign may be permitted in the B-C district and may extend into the public right-of-way if such sign meets all of the following requirements:
(a) 
Extends a maximum of 3.5 feet into such right-of-way.
(b) 
Has a maximum sign area of six square feet per side on up to two sides.
(c) 
Is constructed completely of wood (other than plywood) except for a metal support structure and fasteners.
(d) 
Is not internally illuminated.
(e) 
Meets the BOCA Code structural and safety requirements.
(f) 
Meets the clearance requirements of § 27-704(19). Such sign preferably should have a relief finish.
(g) 
Up to 10 square feet if the sign does not encroach into the public right-of-way.
(4) 
Illumination. No sign erected after the adoption of this chapter in the B-C district shall be internally illuminated. The use of neon shall be prohibited, except on properties licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
(5) 
Parking Lot Signs. See § 27-704(21).
B. 
Off-Premises Signs. No off-premises signs shall be permitted in the B-C district except those off-premises signs allowed in § 27-706(B).
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 708]
1. 
The following signs shall be permitted in the B-H district, in addition to signs permitted in all districts by § 27-704:
A. 
On-Premises Wall Signs and Miscellaneous Signs.
(1) 
Miscellaneous Signs. All signs permitted in § 27-706(A) shall also be permitted in the B-H or B-L district at the standards prescribed therein, except as otherwise provided in this section and in § 27-704.
(2) 
Wall Signs.
(a) 
Wall signs may be placed on a maximum of two sides of a building.
(b) 
Wall signs shall not be higher than the height of the building to which the signs are attached (not including nonstructural extensions of a building).
(c) 
The maximum sign area of all wall signs on each side of a building shall not exceed 15% of the total vertical area of that side of the building (including windows and doors).
(3) 
Window Signs. Signs placed within windows and doors of a building shall not be restricted by the maximum size of wall signs if the window signs are clearly not permanent in nature and materials and are not illuminated.
B. 
Freestanding Signs. (Freestanding sign shall also include a group of signs on the same single supporting structure, providing that the total permitted sign area is not exceeded.)
(1) 
Number of Signs. A lot may include one freestanding sign structure if the lot has less than 150 feet of total street frontage, and two such structures if the lot has 150 feet or more of street frontage.
(2) 
No portion of any such sign shall have a maximum height of greater than 25 feet. See also clearance provisions in § 27-704(19).
(3) 
The area of all permitted freestanding signs on a lot (except as provided in § 27-708(B)(4) and (5), below) shall not exceed 50 square feet of sign area or one square foot of sign area for each two feet of total street frontage of the lot, whichever is more restrictive.
(4) 
No freestanding sign shall be within 15 feet of an abutting side or rear lot line of a dwelling in a residential district, except signs that:
(a) 
Have a maximum sign area of eight square feet on each of two sides.
(b) 
Convey information such as parking, entrances and traffic flow directions.
(c) 
Which may include the name of the business located on the premises.
(5) 
Signs for Multiple Uses. If a lot in single and separate ownership includes four or more distinct principal business establishments or includes the sale of motor vehicles that were not previously owned and were manufactured by three or more distinct corporations, then:
(a) 
The total maximum area of freestanding signs on the lot on each of two sides of the sign(s) shall be 100 square feet, and a maximum of three freestanding signs may be permitted on the lot. This sign(s) which may include individual coordinated attached signs identifying different establishments, provided that the signs have a coordinated backing. No sign may extend in any direction beyond the outside edge of the backing.
(b) 
In addition to all other sign area, such a lot may include an additional sign area of 20 square feet on each of two sides to post changeable sign copy on a permanent, nonmobile freestanding sign. Such additional sign is intended to replace the demand for a portable sign.
(6) 
Parking Identification Signs. See § 27-704(21).
C. 
Signs necessary for direction, regulation and control of traffic, street name signs, legal notices, warnings at railroad crossings and other official signs which are similarly authorized or erected by a duly constituted governmental body, and signs provided in accordance with § 27-704(21) are specifically permitted.
D. 
Off-Premises Signs (Billboards). Only the following off-premises advertising signs are permitted, except for other signs specifically permitted by § 27-704.
(1) 
Size and Location. Off-premises signs (billboards) shall:
(a) 
Be restricted to one side, one sign area and one sign per structure.
(b) 
Be restricted to one such sign per lot.
(c) 
Not exceed 300 square feet of sign area per structure.
(2) 
Setbacks and Spacing. Off-premises signs (billboards) shall be:
(a) 
Setback a minimum of 30 feet from the street right-of-way.
(b) 
Setback a minimum of 30 feet from any lot line, except as provided in subsection (e), below.
(c) 
Spaced no closer than 500 feet from another billboard.
(d) 
Have a maximum height greater 50 feet.
(e) 
Shall be located a minimum of 100 feet from a residential district and from any residential lot line, unless the advertisement surface and the illumination of such sign is not visible therefrom.
(3) 
Off-premises signs under this section shall require special exception approval, and be restricted to the B-H district.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 709]
All signs permitted in B-H district are also permitted in B-L district, except billboards/off-premises signs shall be prohibited in the B-L district.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 710]
1. 
The following signs are permitted in the I-L district, in addition to all signs permitted in all districts by § 27-704:
A. 
On-Premises Signs.
(1) 
All signs permitted in a B-L district at the standards prescribed therein except as otherwise provided in this section and in § 27-704.
(2) 
Signs for permitted uses provided:
(a) 
All parallel and projecting signs shall not exceed two square feet for each foot of length of the front building wall or length of that portion of such wall which is devoted to such establishment, or 300 square feet, whichever is smaller. Said signs are permitted on a side or rear wall only if such wall abuts a street, driveway or parking area. No sign shall be closer than 100 feet to a residential district.
(b) 
The total area of freestanding signs on each of two sides shall not exceed one square foot of sign area for each two feet of lot frontage, or 50 square feet per permitted sign, whichever is more restrictive. Not more than one such sign shall be placed on a property unless it fronts on more than one street, in which case one such sign may be erected on each street frontage.
(c) 
No sign shall project higher than the roof line. No sign shall be located between the rear or side wall of a principal business building and the lot line of an abutting residential district.
(d) 
Parking Identification Signs. See § 27-704(21).
B. 
Signs necessary for direction, regulation and control of traffic, street name signs, legal notices, warnings at railroad crossings and other official signs which are similarly authorized or erected by a duly constituted governmental body, and signs provided in accordance with § 27-704(21) are specifically permitted.
[Ord. 776, 6/21/1993, § 711]
1. 
Intent. To encourage designs of signs that will be highly compatible with nearby residences and other attractive natural features and areas.
2. 
Applicability. These bonuses may apply to any freestanding on-premises sign in a commercial or industrial district or for a lawful principal nonresidential use in a residential district.
3. 
Wood. The maximum sign area(s) permitted by this Part (other than signs permitted by § 27-707(A)(3) entitled "Projecting Signs") may be increased by 20% if:
A. 
The sign is constructed completely of natural relief-finish wood (not including plywood; a sign may include needed non-wood fasteners); and,
B. 
All freestanding signs on the lot have a maximum height of 10 feet.