Township of Lawrence, MI
Van Buren County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The purpose and intent of these rules and regulations governing signs is to apply reasonable controls over size, placement and general appearance of signs in their use in each district that will ensure, promote and safeguard standards for protecting the public health, safety, welfare, and the environment.
The definitions in this section are unique to the provisions of this article.
ABANDONED SIGN
A sign which no longer identifies or advertises a bona fide business.
BANNER SIGN
A sign made of fabric or any nonrigid material with no enclosing framework.
BILLBOARD
See "off-premises sign."
CHANGEABLE COPY SIGN (AUTOMATIC)
A sign on which the copy changes automatically on a lamp bank or through mechanical means, e.g., electrical or electronic time and temperature units.
CHANGEABLE COPY SIGN (MANUAL)
A sign on which copy is changed manually in the field, e.g., reader boards with changeable letters.
CONSTRUCTION SIGN
A temporary sign identifying an architect, contractor, subcontractor, and/or material supplier participating in construction on the property on which the sign is located.
DIRECTIONAL SIGN
A sign which gives a name, place, location, and general nature of a specific establishment or attraction and is intended to give directions to that place.
DOUBLE-FACED SIGN
A sign with two faces.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE CENTER
See "changeable copy sign, (automatic)."
FLASHING SIGN
A sign which contains an intermittent or sequential flashing light source used primarily to attract attention. Does not include changeable copy signs, animated signs, or signs which, through reflection or other means, create an illusion of flashing or intermittent light (compare "animated sign," "changeable copy sign").
FREESTANDING SIGN
A sign supported upon the ground by poles or braces and not attached to any building.
GOVERNMENT SIGN
Any temporary or permanent sign erected and maintained by the Township, county, state, or federal government for traffic direction or for designation of or direction to any school, hospital, historical site, or public service, property, or facility.
HEIGHT (OF A SIGN)
The vertical distance measured from the highest point of the sign, excluding decorative embellishments, to the grade of the adjacent street or the surface grade beneath the sign, whichever is less.
IDENTIFICATION SIGN
A sign whose copy is limited to the name and address of a building, institution, or person and/or to the activity or occupation being identified.
ILLEGAL SIGN
A sign which does not meet requirements of this chapter and which has not received legal nonconforming status.
MAINTENANCE
For the purposes of this chapter, the cleaning, painting, repair, or replacement of defective parts of a sign in a manner that does not alter the basic copy, design, or structure of the sign.
MANSARD
A roof having two slopes on all four sides with the lower slope almost vertical and the upper almost horizontal.
MARQUEE
A permanent rooflike structure or canopy of rigid materials supported by and extending from the facade of a building (compare "awning").
MARQUEE SIGN
Any sign attached to or supported by a marquee structure.
NAMEPLATE
A nonelectric on-premises identification sign giving only the name, address, and/or occupation of an occupant or group of occupants.
NONCONFORMING SIGN
A sign which was erected legally but which does not comply with subsequently enacted sign restrictions and regulations or a sign which does not conform to the sign code requirements but for which a special permit has been issued.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
A sign structure advertising an establishment, merchandise, service MISE, or entertainment which is not sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished at the property on which said sign is located, e.g., billboards or outdoor advertising.
ON-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which pertains to the use of the premises on which it is located.
PAINTED WALL SIGN
A sign which is applied with paint or similar substance on the face of a wall.
POLITICAL SIGN
For the purposes of this chapter, a temporary sign used in connection with a local, state, or national election or referendum.
PORTABLE SIGN
Any sign designed to be moved easily and not permanently affixed to the ground or to a structure or building.
REAL ESTATE SIGN
A temporary sign advertising the real estate upon which the sign is located as being for rent, lease, or sale.
ROOF SIGN
Any sign erected over or on the roof of a building (compare "mansard," "wall signs").
SIGN
Any device, structure, fixture, or placard using graphics, symbols, and/or written copy designed specifically for the purpose of advertising or identifying any establishment, product, goods, or services.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
A. 
The area of a freestanding or projecting sign shall have only one face (the largest one) of any double- or multi-faced sign counted in calculating its area. The area of the sign shall be measured as follows if the sign is composed of one or two individual cabinets:
(1) 
The area around and enclosing the perimeter of each cabinet or module shall be summed and then totaled to determine total area. The perimeter of measurable area shall not include embellishments, such as pole covers, framing, decorative roofing, etc., provided that there is not written advertising copy on such embellishments.
(2) 
If the sign is composed of more than two sign cabinets or modules, the area enclosing the entire perimeter of all cabinets and/or modules within a single, continuous geometric figure shall be the area of the sign. Pole covers and other embellishments shall not be included in the area of measurement if they do not bear advertising copy.
B. 
The area shall be within a single, continuous perimeter composed of any straight-line geometric figure which encloses the extreme limits of the advertising message. If the sign is composed of individual letters or symbols using the wall as the background with no added decoration, the total sign area shall be calculated by measuring the area within the perimeter of each symbol or letter. The combined areas of the individual figures shall be considered the total sign area.
SUBDIVISION IDENTIFICATION SIGN
A freestanding or wall sign identifying a recognized subdivision, condominium complex, or residential development.
TEMPORARY SIGN
A sign not constructed or intended for long-term use.
WALL SIGN
A sign attached parallel to and extending not more than four inches from the wall of a building. This definition includes painted, individual letter, and cabinet signs, and signs on a mansard.
WINDOW SIGN
A sign installed inside a window and intended to be viewed from the outside.
A. 
Prohibited signs:
(1) 
Encroaching signs and roof signs, as defined herein, are specifically prohibited.
(2) 
Any sign which, by reason of its size, location, content, coloring or manner of illumination, constitutes a traffic hazard or a detriment to traffic safety by obstructing the vision of drivers, or by obstructing or detracting from the visibility of any traffic control device on public streets and roads (i.e., flashing signs).
(3) 
Signs which make use of words such as "stop," "look," "danger," or any other words, phrases, symbols or characters, in such a manner as to interfere with, mislead or confuse traffic.
(4) 
Abandoned signs and sign structures that are no longer in use as originally intended or have been abandoned; or are structurally unsafe, constitute a hazard to safety and health, or those not kept in good repair or maintenance.
(5) 
Any sign that obstructs free ingress to or egress from a required door, window, fire escape or other required exit way.
(6) 
Any sign or other advertising structure containing any obscene, indecent or immoral matter.
(7) 
Any sign unlawfully installed, erected or maintained after the effective date of this chapter (illegal sign).
(8) 
Signs having flashing, blinking or running-type lights are prohibited for any lots adjoining residential districts except for signs presenting changing of copy for time, temperature and date.
(9) 
Any sign installed prior to the effective date of this chapter without a permit, when in fact previous or other ordinances required a permit (illegal sign).
(10) 
Billboards except where off-premises signs are allowed.
(11) 
Billboards used for on-premises advertising are prohibited.
(12) 
Billboards located within 300 feet of residential districts.
B. 
Signs allowed in any district:
(1) 
"No hunting," "no trespassing" signs and on-premises directional signs not exceeding four square feet in area.
(2) 
Signs located in the interior of buildings.
(3) 
Any identification, address, or for sale sign affixed to a wall, mailbox, post, lamp post, or pillar; and which is not larger than four square feet in display surface; and not for the purpose of advertising a home occupation.
(4) 
Traffic control or other governmental signs such as, but not limited to, directional signs placed in rights-of-way, legal notices, railroad crossing signs, danger and other temporary emergency signs.
(5) 
Nameplates, memorial signs or tablets, names of buildings, and dates or erection, when cut into any masonry surface or when constructed of bronze or other noncombustible material.
(6) 
Flags or banners bearing the official design of a nation, state, municipality, educational institution and organization.
No sign shall exceed a 200 square feet limit in the Township of Lawrence. No sign up to 32 square feet shall require a permit. If over 32 square feet, a permit is required, along with a site plan review.
A. 
Signs intended for use over a limited period of time may be permitted.
B. 
Temporary signs shall comply with all the requirements of this chapter.
A. 
Wind load. Signs and sign structures shall be designed and constructed to resist wind forces of not less than 20 pounds per square foot on signs up to 60 feet in height and not less than 30 pounds per square foot for signs of over 60 feet in height.
B. 
Bracing. All bracing systems shall be designed and constructed to transfer lateral forces to the foundation. For signs on buildings, the dead and lateral loads shall be transmitted through the structural frame of the building to the ground in such a manner as to not overstress any of the elements thereof. Uplift due to overturning shall be adequately resisted by proper anchorage to the ground or the structural frame of the building.
C. 
Anchorage. Signs attached to masonry, concrete, or steel shall be safely and securely fastened thereto by means of metal anchors, bolts or approved expansion screws of sufficient size and anchorage to safely support all loads applied.
D. 
Electrical. All signs of electrical construction and installation shall comply with the National Electrical Code and shall be connected by a licensed electrician.
E. 
Other. The Building Official may require an engineer-sealed set of drawings thereby certifying that all loads are in compliance with this section.
A. 
Application for a permit. Application for a permit to erect or replace a sign shall be made to the Building Official by submission of the required forms, fees, exhibits, and information by the owner of the property on which the sign is to be located, or by his/her agent, or lessee. The application shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The property owner's name and address in full.
(2) 
Applicant's name and address.
(3) 
Address of property on which sign is to be situated.
(4) 
Business to which sign belongs or relates.
(5) 
Total display area in square feet.
(6) 
Proposed setback from right-of-way.
(7) 
Sign type.
(8) 
Sign purpose.
(9) 
Sign height.
(10) 
Height and width of building to be served.
(11) 
Drawing of proposed sign indicating proposed copy.
B. 
Sign permits issued on the basis of plans and applications approved by the Planning Commission authorize only the design and construction set forth in such approved plans and applications, and no other design.
C. 
The Planning Commission/Building Official shall not approve plans or issue sign permits for any sign which does not conform to the provisions of this chapter.
D. 
The Building Official shall maintain a record of all sign permits issued, and said record shall be open for public inspection.
Permit fees will be established by resolution of the Township Board of Trustees. A copy of current costs will be available from the Building Official and Township Clerk.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 20, Code Adoption, Art. II)]
For all signs hereafter erected without issuance of a required sign permit, the Building Official shall inform the property owner upon whose property the sign is situated of the alleged violation of this chapter.
A. 
Notification of the enactment of this section and any future amendments by the Township Board of Trustees along with a copy of each shall be sent by the Township Clerk to the Michigan State Transportation Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation. All off-premises signs are subject to the site plan provisions of Article VIII.
B. 
The Township Board shall adopt a schedule of fees administering this section of this chapter for permits related to off-premises advertising signs and sign structure.
C. 
Off-premises advertising signs shall be permitted as a principal or accessory use on parcels of land located along and adjacent to the right-of-way lines of I-94, Red Arrow Highway and CR 365 in any zoning district.
D. 
Off-premises advertising signs shall be spaced at least 1,000 feet apart, including signs located on these highways and roads in adjoining townships. For purposes of this chapter, each side of the roadway shall be considered separately.
E. 
Off-premises advertising signs shall not have more than two faces.
F. 
An inside angle not to exceed 20° may be permitted for a two-faced sign attached at one end.
G. 
The maximum area of each face of an outdoor advertising sign shall not exceed 200 square feet except on I-94.
H. 
The height of the sing at the highest point on the sign structure shall not exceed 30 feet.
I. 
Off-premises advertising signs shall be located at least 300 feet from all residential, church and school structures.
J. 
All lighted signs shall not have any light source or reflected glare visible to traffic on any of the highways and roads specified in Subsection D above or on any other road or highway or property adjacent to any of these highways and roads. No intermittent flashing, rotating, moving or oscillating lighting shall be permitted.
K. 
Each sign shall meet all of the highway or road setback requirements for the zoning district in which it is to be located.
L. 
Construction of a sign shall be structurally sound so as to withstand the wind load on its surface and any vibration of it so that it will not blow down or change its alignment.
M. 
Any off-premises advertising sign not in use for advertising purposes shall have such unused surfaces colored uniformly or, if no panel surface remains, then a uniform color on its structural supports.
N. 
All off-premises advertising signs shall comply with all other applicable requirements and conditions of P.A. 106 of 1972, as amended, "The Highway Advertising Act of 1972."[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See MCLA § 252.301 et seq.
O. 
All signs prohibited by P.A. 106 of 1972, as amended, "The Highway Advertising Act of 1972," are also prohibited in the Township.