Bullet Points on Calvert Sign Regulations

Please send any comments that you would like for us to include to president@baybusinessgroup.org – also please indicate if you want your name and business attached to your comments or if you want them to be anonymous and submitted with all opinions from the BBG.
The following is from Jen Armstrong, Heavenly Chicken in Dunkirk, our liaison to the Signs Committee.

The bullet points I covered in last week’s meeting were as follows: (Everything in quotes is what is in the currently suggested regulations)
1. Monument or Freestanding Signs: “Only one freestanding sign is permitted per parcel of record as of the date of the adoption of this Ordinance. Addt’l freestanding signs may be approved for every additional 500 feet of road frontage subject to the following criteria: 1. Materials, landscaping and design for multiple freestanding sign shall be similar, 2.The location of the multiple signage shall be shown on a site plan or plot plan; 3. Minimum spacing of 425 feet shall be maintained between two freestanding signs on the same road; 4. Minimum spacing of 100 feet shall be maintained between two freestanding signs located near an intersection and 5. Each freestanding sign shall meet all other requirements of the ordinance.”
This 1st bullet point I actually think is a step in the right direction. I believe prior to this, the way the regulations were written, there wasnt much available for the small businesses in shopping centers to do in terms of signage on the road unless they were a part of the large monument sign that the landlord usually puts up. This opens that up to potential opportunity for businesses to do their own as long as they look similar to what already exists and has already been approved.
2. Use of Vehicles as Signs: “Any vehicle which has advertising painted on it, affixed or attached to it, or by any other means made a part of it, whether it is commercial or noncommercial advertising, if parked in any public space not owned by/or constituting the work or business address of the owner for more than eight consecutive hours during any single day or during a period of more than two consecutive days, even if periodically moved, may be issued a civil violation unless the owner can establish that he/she has a personal or professional presence on the premises where the vehicle is/was parked during those hours/days.”
The issue I brought up with this one would be if someone, for example, has their car wrapped for their business, but lives somewhere where they have to park on the street (which is public property) t in front of their house. If they have a falling out of some sorts with a neighbor and the neighbor decides to be a thorn in their side, they could call the county after that car has been parked overnight for 8 hours or more. Those that were in favor of this regulation were also in favor of forbidding what are called sign trucks in the county. The trucks that are simply a huge panel and basically have no purpose other than to be advertising for something. They feel they are a distraction and should definitely not be allowed to park in places that are considered public property, like shopping center parking lots. We tried to point out that the trucks are personal property, owned by someone and the county has no authority over them not being allowed in the county at all. And if that person chooses to participate in capitalism and rent the space on the side of their truck for someone to advertise something, that is their right. Further, when it comes to shopping center parking lots, although they are used by the public, they are not controlled and taken care of by the government. They are owned and taken care of by a landlord. And if there was ever to be an issue with a truck or any other vehicle being parked in a center for an extended period of time, it is something that should be brought to the attention of the landlord, not the County, and let the landlord do what they see fit as it pertains to their center.
3. Storefronts:  Under the section labeled Regulations of General Applicability, it states “Storefront windows shall not be used as a signboard. Some signage may be appropriate behind storefront glass; however, this signage shall be kept to no more than 25% of glass area and not obscure the view of merchandise; and shall comply with all other sign regulations.”
Supposed purpose of this regulation is to keep as much of the front of the store open for viewing for the police officers driving by so they may better be able to detect if something suspicious is going on when they happen to be driving by. I have not checked it myself, but apparently Anne Arundel or another local county has this same regulation in place, limiting it to only 25% use. We feel this is way too restrictive and unnecessary. Does anyone in BBG think there is any % that is reasonable?
4. Directional Signs, Offsite, for business or Organization, Permanent, Not in State Right-of-Ways: In a section of this regulation for Directional Signs, Permanent, Offsite for Businesses Serving the Traveling Public it states: “Signs shall be limited to those service type businesses serving the traveling public, such as filling stations, restaurants, motels, marinas, etc, but not businesses primarily occupied with local needs such as furniture, jewelry, shoes, etc.”
We feel that this is flat out discrimination from one business to another. They simply cannot tell one business they are allowed to put up a  sign but not another simply because of the kind of business/service they have.
5. Electronic Message Centers (EMC’s): This is still a huge topic for debate. Peoples’ opinions about these kinds of signs are all across the spectrum…skies the limit to absolutely none in the County to anywhere in between. The biggest concern of course is the safety of the driving public and the potential distraction that may cause accidents. I think when everyone starts thinking about these, they immediately picture Rte 4 becoming wall to wall electronic signs. Remember, Rte 4 is a state highway and that comes with its own set of rules. These regulations are for the entire County (except for the Beaches and their own individual jurisdictions) and apply throughout. Some highlights from this section are:
a. “EMC portions of sign faces must not be the predominant feature of the sign surface. The remainder of the sign must not have the capability to have dynamic displays even if not used. Only one, contiguous dynamic EMC display area is allowed on a sign surface.”
b. “One EMC per side of structure, but no more than two sides.”
c. ” An EMC may not change or move more often than once every 60 minutes, except one for which changes are necessary to correct hour and minute, date or temperature information. A display of time, date or temp must remain for at least 60 minutes before changing to a different display. But the time, date and temp information itself may change no more often than once very three seconds.”
d. ” The images and messages displayed must be static, and the transition from one static display to another must be instantaneous without any special effects.”
f.”No rotating, scrolling, fading, dissolving, blinking, audio, pyrotechnic or flashing elements are allowed.”
g. Different height requirements of the line copy and graphics per speed limit of the road: 7 inches for 25-34 mph, 9 inches per 35-44 mph, 12 inches per 45-54 mph and 15 inches per 55 mph or more. If this requirement cant be met, then EMC isnt allowed.
h. “EMCs must be equipped to freeze the device in one position if a malfunction occurs. The display must also be equipped with a means to immediately discontinue the display if it malfunctions. The sign owner must immediately stop the display when notified by the County that it is not complying with the standards of this ordinance.”
l. Brightness standards. “The outdoor sign shall have an automatic dimmer (factory set to the illumination intensities set below) and a photo cell sensor to adjust the illumination intensity or brilliance of the sign so that it shall not cause glare or impair the vision of motorists. The sigh shall not exceed maximum illumination of  10,000 nits during daylight hours and a maximum illumination of 500 nits during night hours.”
I’m not sure how you want to pose the questions to the BBG members about all of these issues. Since there are only a couple bullet points here, I think requesting everyone’s response to each to be a limit of 2-3 sentences is reasonable. And if you wanted to attach the file of the complete set of regulations to it we could do that. And just have a note at the end of the questionnaire if they would like to make a comment about any other part of the regulations that they perused.
Jen (and Gary) Armstrong