Sign Permits

Article H:       Signs    


Sec. 10-5-100  Purpose


The City of Elroy finds and declares that the regulation of signs and signage is necessary to promote and protect traffic and pedestrian safety; to provide for appropriate opportunities for the promotion of business and commercial endeavors; and to protect, maintain and enhance the City’s aesthetic appearance.


Sec. 10-5-101  Permit/Application

 No sign shall hereafter be altered, located, erected, moved, reconstructed, extended, enlarged, or structurally altered without a permit from the Building Inspector except those signs excepted in section 10.

 Sec. 10-5-102  Application for Permit

 Application for permit shall be made in writing, in duplicate, upon forms prescribed and provided by the Building Inspector, to the Building Inspector, and shall contain the following information:

      (a)  Name, address and telephone number of applicant.

      (b)  Location of building, structure, or land to which or upon which the sign is to be erected.

      (c)  A sketch, drawing or other blueprint showing a description of the construction details of the sign and showing the lettering and/or pictorial matter composing the sign;  position of lighting or other extraneous devices, a location plan showing the position of the sign on any building or land, and its position in relation to nearby buildings or structures and to any private or public street or highway.

      (d) Written consent of the owner of the building, structure or land which or on which the sign is to be erected, in the event the applicant is not the owner thereof.

      (e)  A copy of any required or necessary electrical permit issued for said sign or a copy of the application thereof.

      (f)  The fee for each sign permit shall be ten ($10.00) dollars.  Said fee may be modified by resolution of the Common Council of the City of Elroy from time to time.

 Sec. 10-5-103    Issuance of Permit

        (a)  It shall be the duty of the Building Inspector, upon the filing of an application for a permit to erect a sign, to examine such plans, specifications and other data submitted to the Building Inspector with the application and, if necessary, the building or premises upon which it is proposed to erect the sign or other advertising structure.  If it shall appear that the proposed sign is in compliance with all the requirements of this local law and other laws and ordinances of the City of Elroy, the Building Inspector shall then, within ten days, issue a permit for the erection of the proposed sign.  If the sign authorized under any such permit has not been completed within six months from the date of the issuance of such permit, the permit shall become null and void, but may be renewed within 30 days of the expiration date.

       (b)  Every sign shall bear the permit number and name of the permit holder and/or the owner of the land upon which the sign is erected, prominently and permanently affixed on the face thereof.  Failure to so affix the permit number and necessary names shall constitute cause for revocation of the permit by the Building Inspector in addition to any other penalties or remedies provided in this local law.

 Sec. 10-5-104   Revocation of Permit

 No sign, whether new or existing, shall hereafter be erected or altered, except in conformity with the provisions of the local law.  However, notwithstanding any provisions contained herein, the sign must be kept clean, neatly painted and free from all hazards such as, but not limited to, faulty wiring and loose fastenings, and must be maintained at all times in such safe condition so as not to be detrimental to the public health or safety.

 Sec. 10-5-105  Violation

 In the event of a violation of any of the foregoing provisions, the Building Inspector shall give written or personal notice to the named owner of the sign and the named owner of the land upon which the sign is erected, sent to the addresses as stated in the application for the sign permit.  The notice shall specify the violation and direct the sign and/or landowner to conform or remove such sign.  The sign shall thereupon be conformed by the owner of the sign and the owner of the land within 30 days from the date of said notice.  In the event such sign shall not be so conformed within 30 days, the Building Inspector shall thereupon revoke the permit, and such sign shall be removed by the named owner of the sign (and/or) the named owner of the land.

Sec. 10-5-106  Prohibited Signs

 (a)   Traffic Interference:  Signs shall not resemble, imitate or approximate the shape, size, form or color of railroad or traffic signs or devices.  Signs, canopies and awnings shall not obstruct or interfere with the effectiveness of railroad or traffic signs, signals or devices or the safe flow of traffic.  No sign shall be erected, relocated or maintained so as to prevent free ingress to or egress from any door, window or fire escape.  No sign, awning or canopy shall be placed so as to obstruct or interfere with traffic visibility.

 (b)   Moving or Flashing Signs:  No sign shall be erected which has any flashing, rotating, or brilliant intermittent parts or lights or bare reflecting-type bulbs, except those giving public service information such as time, date, temperature, weather or similar information or where allowed by conditional use permit.  No signs, billboards or other advertising media which creates a hazard or dangerous distraction to vehicular traffic or a nuisance to adjoining property shall be permitted in any district.

 (c)    Number of Signs Permitted:   No more than three (3) signs of any type shall be located on any premises, except that premises occupied by a shopping center, strip mall, or multi-tenant building may have one wall sign per tenant for each street frontage plus one ground sign per             shopping center, strip mall or multi-tenant building with said ground sign designed to accommodate one double-faced sign per tenant.  Signs exclusively stating the name or identification of a business, which are identical on both sides, constitute one sign.  Businesses with an alley or street fronting both sides shall be allowed three (3) types of signs for alley or street frontage; no street frontage buildings shall be allowed three of the same type of sign on a particular building.

 (d)   Signs on Public-Right-of-Ways:  Freestanding signs shall not be permitted on or over public right-of-ways, except for municipal traffic controls and parking and directional signs, unless a conditional use permit is granted.

 (e)    Distance Between Freestanding Signs:  Shall be a minimum of one hundred (100) feet between freestanding signs throughout the street frontage in order to prevent congestion and maintain traffic visibility.

 Sec. 10-5-107  Dangerous and Abandoned Signs

 (a)   Removal:  All signs shall be removed by the owner or lessee of the premises upon which the sign is located when a business, which it advertises, has not been conducted for a period of thirty (30) days or when, in judgement of the Building Inspector, such sign is so old, dilapidated, or has become so out of repair as to be dangerous or unsafe, whichever occurs first.  If the owner or lessee fails to remove it, the Common Council, or its designee, may remove the sign at the cost of the owner, following adequate written notice.  The owner may appeal the Common Council’s,   or its designee’s, decision to the Board of Appeals.

(b)   Alterations:  For signs erected before the adoption of this Sign Ordinance, if said signs are rebuilt or relocated they shall conform to this Ordinance if the cost of reconstruction or relocation is fifty (50) percent or more of its replacement value.

(c)    Violations:  All signs constructed or maintained in violation of any of the provisions of this Ordinance are hereby declared public nuisances within the meaning of this Code of Ordinances.


Sec. 10-5-108  Construction and Maintenance Regulations for Signs

 (a)   Installation:  All signs shall be properly secured, supported and braced, shall be kept in reasonable structural condition and shall be kept clean and well painted at all times.  Bolts or screws shall not be fastened to window frames.  Every sign and its framework, braces, anchors and other supports shall be constructed of such material and with such workmanship as to be safe and satisfactory to the Building Inspector.

 (b)   Prohibited Mounting:  No signs shall be painted on, attached to or affixed to any trees, rocks, or other similar organic or inorganic natural matter, including utility poles or apparatus.

 (c)    Maintenance:  All signs, including supports and attachments, shall be properly maintained and have an appearance that is neat and clean.  All signs shall be kept in good structural condition, well painted, and clean at all times and the immediate premises shall be maintained in a clean, sanitary and inoffensive condition and kept free and clear of all obnoxious substances, rubbish and weeds.

 (d)   Appeals:  Any person, firm or corporation aggrieved by any permit denial or decision by the Building Inspector relative to the provisions of these sign regulations may appeal and seek review of such decisions by the Board of Appeals.

Sec. 10-5-109  Signs Not Requiring a Permit

The following signs shall not need a sign permit, provided that they are not located over a public road right-of-way or in, on or over public water.

        (a)  Real estate signs not to exceed eight (8) square feet in area, which advertises the sale, rental or lease of the premises upon which said signs are temporarily located.  These signs shall be removed within 30 days after sale, rental or lease of property.

        (b)  Name, occupation and warning signs not to exceed two (2) square feet located on the premises.

        (c)  Memorial signs, tablets, names of buildings and date of erection when cut into masonry surface or when constructed of metal and affixed flat against the structure.

        (d)  Official signs, such as traffic control, parking restriction, information and notices.

        (e)  Temporary signs, when authorized by the Building Inspector for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.  An extension may be permitted not to exceed a total of sixty (60) days.

        (f)  Rummage sale signs not to exceed two (2) square feet in area, but use of this type of sign shall be limited to seventy-two (72) hours per sale.

        (g)  Political signs may be posted forty-five (45) days before and election and must be removed within seven (7) days after said election.  Said sign shall be a maximum of four (4) square feet when authorized by the Building Inspector.

        (h)  A sign for the purpose of designating a new building or development, for promotion of a subdivision, for announcement of a special event or for similar special informational purposes may be permitted for a limited period of time in any district with the approval of the Building Inspector and subject to the following:

                1)  Drawings showing the specific design, appearance and location of the sign shall be submitted to the Building Inspector for approval.

               2)  The permitted size and location of any such sign shall be at the discretion of the Building Inspector based upon the character of the area, the type and purpose of the sign and the length of time permitted.

       (i)  House numbers or signs identifying parks not to exceed four (4) square feet.

 Sec. 10-5-110  Specific Requirements

        (a)  Mobile Signs (internally illuminated type)

               1)  Permits for mobile signs shall be valid for a period of 30 days.  Only three permits shall be granted for one address in a calendar year.  Applicants shall provide a sketch indicating location and size of sign and pictures of sign; the sign must be good working order and free of any apparent defects.  Failure to comply with this section shall double permit fee for the next permit.

               2)  Such signs may be used only to advertise activities conducted on the premises.

               3)  The maximum size shall be twenty-five (25) square feet on each face, back to back.

 Sec. 10-5-111  Nonconforming Signs

        (a)  Signs Eligible for Characterization as Legal Nonconforming:  Any sign located within the City of Elroy limits of the date of adoption of this Ordinance hereafter, which does not conform with the provisions of this Ordinance is eligible for characterization as a legal nonconforming sign and is permitted, providing it meets the following requirements:

              1)  The sign was covered by a proper sign permit prior to the date of adoption of this sign Ordinance.

              2)  If no permit was required under the prior Ordinance.

        (b)  Loss of Legal Nonconforming Status:  a sign loses its nonconforming status if one (1) or more of the following occurs:

              1)  If said sign is damaged or structurally altered in any way, except for normal maintenance and repair;  the sign may be reconstructed and used as before if it is reconstructed within three (3) months after such damage, unless the damage to the sign is fifty (50%) percent or more of its replacement value, in which case the reconstructed sign shall comply with the provisions of this Ordinance.

              2)  The sign is relocated.

              3)  The sign fails to conform to the City requirements regarding maintenance and repair, abandonment or dangerous or defective signs.

              4)  On the date of occurrence of any of the above, the sign shall be immediately brought in compliance with this Ordinance with a new permit secured therefore or shall be removed.

         (c)  Legal Nonconforming Sign Maintenance and Repair:  Nothing in this Ordinance shall relieve the owner or use of a legal nonconforming sign or the owner of the property in which the sign is located from the provisions of this Ordinance regarding safety, maintenance or repair of signs.

 Sec. 10-5-112  Lettered Awnings and Canopies 

             (a)  Permitted Awnings:  No awnings shall be erected or maintained, except such awnings as comply with the following requirements, and then only if the permit required hereunder is first obtained and the same conform to the regulations of the zoning district in which the same are to be located.

              1)  Support:  Awnings shall be securely attached to and supported by the building and shall be without posts or columns beyond the setback line.

              2)  Height:  All awnings shall be constructed and erected so that the lowest portion thereof shall not be less than eight (8) feet above the level of the public sidewalk or thoroughfare.

             3)  Setback from Curb Line:, No awning shall extend closer than four (4) feet from the curb line.  Outside the Historic District, no awning shall extend closer than one (1) foot from the curb line.

         (b)  Permitted Canopies:  No canopies shall be erected or maintained, except such canopies as comply with the following requirements, and then only if the permit required hereunder is first obtained and the same conform to the regulations of the zoning district in which the same are to be located:

               1)  Support:  The structural support of all canopies shall be designed by a licensed professional engineer and approved by the Building Inspector as in compliance with Building Code of the City.  All canopies shall be attached to a building, and no supports shall exist beyond the setback line between the canopy and the sidewalk or     ground below.

               2) Height Above Sidewalk:  All canopies shall be constructed and erected so that the lowest portion thereof shall not be less than eight (8) feet above the level of the sidewalk or public thoroughfare.

               3)  Setback from Curb:  No canopy shall extend closer than four (4) feet from the curb line.

 Sec. 10-5-113 Abandoned Billboards and Signs

 Except as otherwise herein provided, all billboards and/or sign messages shall be removed by the owner or lessee of the premises upon which an off-premise sign/billboard is located when the business it advertised is no longer conducted where advertised.  If the owner or lessee fails to remove the sign/billboard, the Common Council, or its designee, shall give the owner thirty (30) days written notice to remove said sign/billboard and thereafter, upon the owner’s or lessee’s failure to comply, may remove such sign/billboard, any costs for which shall be charged to the owner of the property or may be assessed as a special assessment against the property, and/or the Common Council, or its designee, may take any other appropriate legal action necessary to attain compliance.

 Sec. 10-5-114  Residential and Agricultural Zones

        (a)  The following types of non-advertising, non-flashing signs are permitted in the R and A zones:

               1)  Any sign specified in Sections 10-5-109 and 10-5-112.

               2)  Bulletin boards for public, veterans, charitable or religious institutions shall not exceed eight (8) square feet in area located on premises.   Such sign shall not obstruct vision from the street.

               3)  Temporary signs or banners, when authorized by the Building Inspector, for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.  An extension may be permitted not to exceed a total of sixty (60) days.

               4)   Signs for home occupations not to exceed four (4) square feet.

               5)  Signs of schools, places of worship, nursing and convalescent homes, museums, libraries, community centers and medical facilities may be erected and maintained, provided that the size of any sign is not in excess of twenty (20) square feet.

 Sec. 10-5-115  Commercial/Manufacturing

         (a)  Signs permitted in commercial and industrial zones are as follows:

               1)  Any sign specified in Sections 10-5-109, 10-5-110 or 10-5-112.

               2)  Wall signs which do not extend more than sixteen (16) inches from the wall surface and are a maximum of forty (40%) percent of the wall area.  Wall signs shall not exceed the height of the building on which they are displayed.

               3)  Outside the Commercial District, projecting signs fastened to, suspended from or supported by structures shall not exceed thirty-two (32) square feet in area, shall not extend closer than one (1) foot from the curb line, shall not be less than five (5) feet from all side lot lines, shall not exceed a height of twenty (20) feet above the mean centerline street grade and shall not be less than thirteen (13) feet six (6) inches above a driveway or alley.

              4)  Other freestanding signs shall not exceed thirty (30) feet in height and the bottom of the sign shall be a minimum of ten (10) feet above the adjoining ground level.  Freestanding signs shall not exceed three hundred (300) square feet on one side and six hundred (600) square feet on all sides for any one premise.  Freestanding signs may extend to the property line in yards adjacent to public streets.

                    (a)  In Commercial District:  The total amount of signage permitted for each business premise within a Commercial District shall be determined by the greater of the feet from the public right-of-way line.  No billboard or ground sign shall be located within 25 feet of an abutting residential zone.  On lots abutting street intersections no sign or billboard shall be placed within 35 feet of the lot corner of said lot nearest the street intersection, and in no event shall the distance be less than the height of the sign.  Lighting reflectors may extend eight feet beyond the face of the ground sign or billboard.

                    (b)  Monument Signs: Sign area including structural and decorative framing may not exceed forty-eight (48) inches in height or ninety-six (96) inches in length. 

 Sec. 10-5-116 House Numbers

 A house number shall be displayed and shall be a minimum of three (3) inches in height.  It shall be visible from the roadway named in the address, and all house numbers shall be in Arabic numerals (i.e. block print).  When the house numbers are not visible from the road, or the view of the structure is blocked by trees or shrubs or another structure, the house number shall be on a sign or attached to a tree, fence, post, or mailbox within ten (10) feet of a driveway and not more than 20 feet from the road with the following exception:  Mailboxes that are grouped shall not be used for displaying house numbers as defined in these rules, as grouped mailboxes block the view of house numbers and / or do not provide identification of the location of residences.  The purpose of this Ordinance is primarily to assist emergency personnel.  Violation of this Ordinance shall be subject to the penalties prescribed in Section 10-5-165.

 Sec. 10-5-117  Violations of Sign Code

       (a)  Any person, firm or corporation who begins, erects or completes the erection or construction of any sign controlled by this Ordinance prior to the granting of a permit shall pay a penalty of double the amount of the permit otherwise required.

       (b)  If the Building Inspector finds any sign regulated herein unsafe or insecure or is a menace to the public, it shall give written notice to the sign owner and to the property owner.

       (c)  If such sign owner fails to remove or alter the sign so as to comply with the standards herein set forth within ten (10) days after such notice, the Building Inspector may cause such sign to be removed or altered at the expense of the owner of the sign or the owner of the property upon which it is located so as to comply with the provisions of this Ordinance.

       (d)  Any person, firm or corporation who violates any provision of this Ordinance shall be subject to the penalties prescribed in Section 10-5-165.  Each day, or portion thereof, that such violation continues is hereby deemed to constitute a separate offense.

 Sec. 10-5-118  Definitions

        (a)  Abandoned Signs:  A sign which no longer correctly directs any person, advertises a bonafide business, lessor, owner, product or activity conducted, or product available on the premises where the sign is displayed.

        (b)  Area of Sign or Display Area:  The area is the perimeter which forms the outside shape, but excluding the necessary supports or uprights on which the sign may be placed unless they are designed as part of the sign.  If the sign consists of more than one section or module, all areas will be totaled.  The area of an irregularly shaped sign shall be computed using the actual sign face surface.  The area of the irregularly shaped sign shall be the entire area within a single continuous perimeter of not more than eight (8) straight lines.

       (c)  Awning:  A temporary hood or cover, which projects from the wall of the building, which can be retracted, folded or collapsed against the face of a supporting structure.

       (d)  Banner:  A non-illuminated, elongated, fabric sign usually used as a temporary display for the special announcement of a coming event.

       (e)  Billboard and Off-Premises Signing:  A sign which advertises goods, products or facilities, or services not necessarily on the premises where the sign is located or directs persons to a different location from where the sign is located.

       (f)  Building Façade:  That portion of a building, which is parallel or nearly parallel to the abutting roadway.

       (g)  Canopy:  A canopy is a shelter, with or without a sign, attached to or connected with a building and extending into a setback or over the public sidewalk.

       (h)  Construction Site Sign:  A sign for the purpose of designating a new building development or any project in the process of development, for promotion of a subdivision.

       (i)  Directory Sign:  Shall mean any sign on which the names and locations of occupants or the use of a building is given.  This shall include offices, schools and church directories.  Directory signs shall be encouraged for use with advertising of multiple occupied commercial and industrial buildings.

      (j)     Electronic Message Unit Sign:  any sign whose message may be changed by electronic process including such messages as copy, art, graphics, time, date, temperature, weather or information concerning civic or charitable events, or the advertising of products or services for sale on the premises.  This also includes traveling or segmented message displays.

     (k)  Flashing Sign:  Any directly or indirectly illuminated sign on which artificial light is not maintained stationary and constant in intensity and color at all times when in use.  This is not the same as an electronic message sign.

     (l)  Ground Sign:  a sign erected on a free standing frame, mast or pole, or more than one such mast or pole, not attached to any building.

    (m) Identification Sign:  Any sign which carries only the name of the firm, major enterprise, institution or principal products offered for sale on the premises or combination of these.

    (n)  Indirectly Illuminated Sign:  Shall mean a sign that is illuminated from a source outside of the actual sign.

    (o)  Mobile Sign:  Any sign or billboard which lacks parts making it stationary or which is not stationary and which is not stationary and which is located on any premises for longer than 48 hours.

    (p)  Nonconforming Sign:  Any sign, which does not conform to the regulations in this Ordinance.

    (q)  Permanent Message Board:  Any sign permanently attached which has manually changeable copy.

     (r)  Political Sign:  Any sign displaying a candidate for an election, or a current elections subject matter.

     (s)  Projecting Sign:  A sign, normally double faced, which is attached to and projects from a structure or building fascia.  The area of projecting signs are calculated on one face only.

     (t)  Real Estate Sign:  Any sign, which is used to offer for sale, lease or rent the property upon which the sign is placed.

     (u)  Roof Sign:  Any sign erected upon or over the roof or parapet of any building.

     (v)  Sign:  Any identification, description, illustration or device illuminated or non-illuminated which is visible from any public place or is located on private property and exposed to the public and which directs attention to a product, service, place, activity person, institution, business, or solicitation, including any permanently installed or situated merchandise; or any emblem, painting, banner, pennant, placard, or temporary sign design to advertise, identify or convey information with the exception of window displays and flags.  For the purpose of removal, signs shall also include all sign structures.

      (w)  Temporary Signs:  Any sign, banner, pennant, valance, or advertising display constructed of cloth, canvas, light fabric, cardboard, wallboard, or other light materials, with or without frames, intended to be displayed for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.  Temporary signs shall not be permitted more than three times a year or more than thirty consecutive days.

      (x)   Wall Sign:  Any sign attached to, erected on or painted on the wall of a building or structure and projecting not more than sixteen (16) inches from such wall.

      (y)   Window Sign:  Any sign located completely within an enclosed building and visible from a public way.