P.14. Amendment to Land Development Code to consider an ordinance establishing new sign standards in residential zoning under Article 10 of the Palisade Land Development Code.

Palisade Planning Commission
Date of Vote: Mon, May 7th 2018
Polls (closed):
Yay (0)    Nay (0)


                    The Town’s Land Development Code adopted in November of 2017 established new language for sign standards by eliminating “content based” criteria. The changes reflected the recent U.S.

Supreme Court ruling (Reed v Town of Gilbert, Arizona) that “content based” signage restrictions were restrictions on free speech. For example, standards that treated signs for churches differently from other signs were considered “content based” standards. However staff discovered that the code changes inadvertently resulted in making most existing signage in residentially zoned areas non-conforming signage. The new code removed any allowances for freestanding signage in residential zones, primarily impacting churches in the neighborhoods.
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                    The change also essentially prohibits signs at the entrances to residential subdivisions and manufactured home parks and for multi-family developments.

The proposed amendment will add language back to the code permitting limited freestanding signage in residential zoning. For purposes of clarification, residential zoning includes the following zoning districts: Agriculture Forestry Transitional (AFT); Low Density Residential (LDR); Medium Density Residential (MDR); High Density Residential (HDR) and Mixed Use (MU).

Proposed Amendment The amendment adds allowed signs in residential zoning under Section 10.10 of the Land Development Code. With the exception of wall signs, the existing code fundamentally prohibits signage. No changes are proposed for existing signage standards for non-residential zoning.

The only change proposed by this amendment is to add the following language:

Signs in Residential Zoning One permanent non-digital monument or ground sign may be permitted for any nonresidential use that is permitted in residential zoning. The sign may not exceed twentyfour (24) square feet in area and shall not be over eight feet (8’) in height if a monument sign, or over four feet (4’) in height if a ground sign. No monument or ground signs, however, may be permitted in combination with wall signs allowed under Section 10.10 C.1.b.vi. One permanent non-digital monument or ground sign up to twenty-four (24) square feet in area is allowed at a multifamily apartment/condominium building/complex and on each common area parcel that abuts a public right-of-way. The sign may not be over eight feet (8’) in height if a monument sign, or over 4 feet (4’) in height if a ground sign. For purposes of this subsection, “common area parcel” means a parcel that is owned by a homeowners’ association for the benefit of all lot owners in a planned community, common interest community or condominium. The provisions under this subsection shall not apply to standards established for bed and breakfast uses, manufactured home parks, short term vacation rentals, home occupations, home businesses, and marijuana for personal or medical uses in residential structures.

The proposed language will limit signage in residential zoning to monument/ground signage and wall signage only. Pole signs, projecting signs, or digital signs would not be permitted. The signs would be limited to no more than 24 square feet and a height of not more than 4 or 8 feet depending on whether a monument or ground sign is used. Signs at entrances to subdivisions and at multi-family developments would also be limited to no more than 24 square feet. The following photographs illustrate existing signage and the standards that would be implemented by the proposed amendment.

Although the Palisade Living Center is actually located in Town Center zoning, the signage for the facility, nevertheless, serves as a good example of the size of sign permitted for nonresidential uses in residential zoning. The sign of twenty four square feet reflects the maximum size of signage permitted by the proposed amendment. For a broader context, any of the uses permitted in the Mixed Use zoning (office/restaurant/neighborhood retail/neighborhood service) would also be limited to this standard. On the other hand, standards that are in place for uses such as bed and breakfasts and home occupations would not be affected by this change. Additionally, signs that are specifically prohibited, such as short term vacation rentals, would also not be affected.  Because wall signs are permitted in all zoning districts by the current code, the amendment did not incorporate any changes to wall signage standards. Section 10.10 C.1.b.vi allows wall signs in residential zoning so long as the signs are not illuminated. The size of the wall signs are limited to no more than 25 percent of the area of any wall devoted to the sign. In the event the building includes a wall sign, staff is recommending as part of the amendment that no ground or monument sign be permitted in combination with the wall signage.  Finally, signs that may be constructed at the entrances to residential subdivisions or for multifamily housing are also limited to 24 square feet. The following photographs illustrate the only two subdivision entrance signs in the town. Similar signage is also located at the Rio Vista Manufactured Home Park. Although both Blue Sage and Montclair subdivisions are in PD Planned Development zoning, opportunities for similar signage are anticipated with future subdivisions in standard residential zoning. Additionally, since all future multi-family housing and manufactured home parks and subdivisions require conditional use review, restrictions on signage could be further restricted if necessary, as part of the conditional review. 

In an effort to be an unbiased source of information, all text in this summary comes directly from government resources.