Township of Plainfield, PA
Northampton County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 601]
1. 
Purpose. The purposes of the regulations contained in this Part are to:
A. 
Promote and maintain overall community beautification.
B. 
Establish reasonable time, place, and manner regulations on the exercise of free speech.
C. 
Promote traffic safety.
D. 
Promote the most appropriate uses of the land.
2. 
Permit Required.
A. 
A sign permit is required for any permanent sign exceeding two square feet in area not excepted by Subsection 12B.
B. 
A sign permit is not required for:
(1) 
Any temporary sign.
(2) 
Any sign which requires a mere change of copy on a sign (the customary use of which involves frequent and periodic changes of copy).
(3) 
Any sign specifically authorized by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania laws or regulations.
C. 
Each sign shall comply with the standards of this Chapter, whether or not a sign permit is required.
3. 
Nonconforming Signs.
A. 
Signs existing at the date of enactment of this Chapter and which do not conform to the requirements of the chapter shall be considered nonconforming signs.
B. 
Once a nonconforming sign is removed, it may be replaced only with a conforming sign.
C. 
Nonconforming signs (including existing lighting) may be repainted or repaired provided such repainted or repaired sign does not exceed the dimensions of the existing sign; wording may also be changed.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 602]
1. 
Every sign shall be constructed of durable materials and shall be kept in good condition and repair.
2. 
Any sign which is allowed to become dilapidated may, after notification, be removed by the Township at the expense of the owner or lease of the property on which it is located.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 603]
1. 
Not Within Street Lines. No sign shall be allowed within street right-of-way lines; except directional signs and those of the government body which owns such right-of-way, unless specifically authorized by another Township ordinance or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law or regulation.
2. 
No Traffic Interference.
A. 
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).
B. 
All signs shall comply with the provisions of § 27-404, Subsection 3.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 604]
No freestanding sign structure shall exceed 24 feet in height above the average ground level at the base of such sign.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 605; as amended by Ord. 295, 9/14/2005, § 2]
1. 
On-Premises Signs.
A. 
In General.
(1) 
Each use shall be limited to two signs along each street on which the use is located.
(2) 
Such signs shall be limited to the following types:
(a) 
One parallel or projecting sign.
(b) 
One window sign.
(c) 
One freestanding sign.
B. 
Planned Developments.
(1) 
Planned Commercial, Office or Industrial Developments. In addition to the signs permitted for individual commercial uses, one freestanding, on-premises sign indicating the name of the development may be erected along each road fronting such development.
(2) 
Residential Developments. One freestanding, on-premises sign indicating the name of the subdivision, or single-family cluster development may be erected along each road fronting such development.
[Amended by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
C. 
Temporary Signs.
(1) 
Real Estate. A temporary sign may be permitted within the property lines, advertising the prospective or completed sale or rental of the premises upon which it is located, provided that such sign shall be maintained and removed within seven days after consummation of the lease or sale transaction.
(2) 
Construction Sites. A nonilluminated temporary sign (developer/contractor sign or mechanic/subcontractor/other artisan sign) may be permitted on a construction site, provided such sign shall be removed within seven days after completion of the construction work and not more than one sign per developer, contractor, mechanic, subcontractor or artisan shall be placed on each street frontage of the construction site.
2. 
Off-Premises Signs.
A. 
No more than two off-premises signs shall be permitted in the Township for any use, object, product, service, place, activity, person, institution, organization or business.
B. 
Except for directional signs, no off-premises sign shall be located in a SR, PR, VR or BMC District.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 606]
1. 
Shielding. Signs may be illuminated by direct lighting, provided such lighting shall be shielded so no direct light will shine on abutting properties or in the normal line of vision of the public using the streets.
2. 
Internally illuminated signs and digital electronic signs are prohibited in the BMC, SR and PR Districts.
[Amended by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
3. 
Flashing Signs Prohibited. All flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated, or moving signs of any type (except those portions of signs which indicate time and temperature change(s)) are prohibited in all districts.
4. 
Digital Signs. Where allowed, digital electronic signs may change their message from time to time, provided that each message is visible for a minimum of eight seconds, except as follows: time and temperature signs may change more frequently; and if there is an electronically changing sign area of greater than 50 square feet, the sign shall not change its message more frequently than once every 20 seconds. The interval between message changes shall not be greater than one second, except such interval shall be 0.1 seconds if there is a sign area of greater than 50 square feet. This provision on sign timing shall not regulate signs that are not readable from a public street and that are not readable from any dwelling.
[Added by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
5. 
Maximum Luminance of Signs.
[Added by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
A. 
Nits in this section shall mean a measure of the luminance or brightness of a sign, as measured from the sign's face, in candelas per square meter.
B. 
The brightness of a sign with an electronically changing message shall not exceed 3,500 nits during daytime hours and 150 nits during nighttime hours. The sign shall have an automatic dimming process to meet these maximum levels. Information on the illumination in nits shall be provided at the time of the permit application.
C. 
If a digital electronic sign malfunctions, it shall be designed to display a dark static image or to turn off the image.
D. 
Compliance. Compliance with the maximum luminance standard shall be certified by an independent professional after installation is complete, prior to issuance of the final permit. In case of doubt of compliance, at any time the Zoning Officer may require the owner of the sign to provide independent written proof of compliance with the luminance requirements from a qualified professional. An all-white background shall be used for the test, which shall fill the sensor of the light meter.
(1) 
The meter used for the testing shall have a current calibration.
(2) 
Measurement of the daytime luminance shall be made at least two hours after sunrise, but not less than two hours before sunset.
6. 
For any sign of more than 10 feet in total height above the ground, any lighting of the sign that is external to the sign that may have any light spillover beyond the sign face shall have the light fixrure(s) attached to the top of the sign to shine downward, as opposed to shining upward, in order to avoid light extending into the sky.
[Added by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
7. 
Any sign with more than 100 square feet per side of digital electronic sign area shall be setback a minimum of 1,000 feet in all directions from any other sign with more than 100 square feet per side of digital electronic sign area.
[Added by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
8. 
Any sign with more than 100 square feet per side of digital electronic sign area shall not be illuminated between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., unless the sign is advertising a on-premises use that is open during those hours. The maximum sign area of a digital electronic sign shall be limited by the maximum sign area for the zoning district, provided that an existing nonconforming sign shall not be converted into a digital electronic sign.
[Added by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 607]
1. 
On-premises signs advertising a use no longer in existence or a product no longer available shall be removed or changed to advertise a new use or product within 90 days after cessation of the original use or availability of the original product.
2. 
Signs once removed shall be replaced only by signs in conformance with this Chapter.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 608]
1. 
Any vehicle or structure to which a sign is affixed in such a manner that the carrying of such sign or signs no longer is incidental to the primary purpose of the vehicle or structure 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 or structure is located.
2. 
All sign provisions of this Chapter shall apply to the use of silos, smokestacks, water towers and other similar structures as signs.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 609]
1. 
The following signs are prohibited in all zoning districts:
A. 
Banners, spinners, flags, pennants, or any moving object used for commercial advertising purposes (whether containing a message or not), except for use during not more than four special occasions in one calendar year by a use located in the Village Center, Planned Commercial, or Light Industrial/Business Park Districts, for a period of not more than a total of 20 days per calendar year.
B. 
Flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated, or moving signs of any type, except those portions of signs which indicate time and temperature changes.
C. 
Signs placed, inscribed or supported upon the roof or upon any structure which extends above the eave of the roof of any building.
D. 
Signs on mobile stands which can be moved from place to place.
E. 
Signs which emit smoke, visible vapors or particles, sound or odor.
[Ord. 275, 2/9/2000, § 610; as amended by Ord. 302, 2/8/2006, §§ 1, 2; and by Ord. No. 393, 9/11/2019]
No sign shall exceed the maximum sign area in square feet established for that sign in Table 27-610.1.
Table 27-610.1
Sign and Area Regulations
Location of Sign
Type of Sign Structure
FF an BMC Districts
(square feet)
SR, PR and VR Districts
(square feet)
VC, HI and GC Districts
(square feet)
I-BP, GI CI & SW Districts
(square feet)
On-Premisesb
Freestanding Sign
12
8
16
32
Parallel Sign
12
8
Not exceeding 20% of building face area on that street
Not exceeding 20% of building face area on that street
Projecting Sign
12
8
Not exceeding 20% of building face area on that street
Not exceeding 20% of building face area on that street
Window Sign
8
8
Not exceeding 25% of total window area on that street 32 square feet whichever is smaller
Not exceeding 25% of total window area on that street or 50 square feet, whichever is smaller
Off-Premisesc
Billboardd
Permitted only in the HI District along Route 33 and subject to the following size requirements: Not to exceed 300 square feet along Route 33
Other Off-Premises Advertising Signs
16
32
Directional Signs
Standardized directional signs six inches wide and up to 36 inches long are permitted in all Zoning Districts. Directional signs shall (1) be mounted to a stand street pole or a 2 1/2-inch diameter galvanized pipe; and (2) have a green background with white professional lettering
a
Area of Signs.
1.
The area of a sign will 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, but not including any supporting framework and bracing which are incidental to the display itself.
2.
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 or other simple shape, including the sign background, which encompasses all of the letters and symbols.
3.
In computing square foot area of a double-face sign, only one side shall be considered, provided both faces are identical. If the interior angle formed by the two faces of the double-faced sign is greater than 45°, then both sides of such sign shall be considered in calculating the sign area.
b
See § 27-605, Subsection 1, for permitting number of signs.
c
See § 27-605, Subsection 2, for permitted number of signs.
d
Billboard Setback and Spacing. Billboards shall be:
1.
Set back at least 50 feet from the street right-of-way.
2.
Spaced no closer than 500 feet from another billboard.
3.
Such sign shall be located no closer than 100 feet from a residential district and no closer than 250 feet from an existing dwelling. These setbacks shall be increased to 200 feet from a residential district and 350 feet from an existing dwelling for a digital electronic sign with a sign area of more than 100 square feet. See also separation distances in § 27-606 for digital electronic signs. Stacked or side-by-side billboards are not permitted.
4.
This Section shall not regulate the placement of "tourist oriented directional signs," provided the signs are posted along a public street right-of-way in a manner allowed under PennDOT regulations for such signs or that are approved by the Township along a Township street. (Note: These are typically blue signs that direct motorists to various major destinations.)