Ordinance Changes Give Liberties to Sign Shapes, Sizes

Lansdale Borough Council unanimously approved the sign changes to awning and wall signs Wednesday night

It must have sucked to be a sign on Lansdale's Main Street.

Until Wednesday, you could only be one type of sign — rectangular.

Now, signs have their freedom in Lansdale.

Circular signs, square signs and any shape of sign up to 60 square feet are now permitted on walls in Lansdale Borough.

In addition, signs on awnings aren't limited to just the end panels and skirts of awnings. They can be on the front of awnings now.

Borough council held a public hearing Wednesday night to amend two parts of the Lansdale sign ordinance of the zoning code. They later voted 8-0 to approve the changes. Council President Matt West was asbent from the meeting.

Solicitor Mark Hosterman testified that the change to the ordinance on awnings would limit signs on awnings to 40 percent of its sloped surface front. The change now allows additional signage at 25 percent of the area of the skirt or end panel.

However, all off-premises advertisements on awnings are now prohibited and the sign must be above the entranceway.

The previous language in the code limited signs on awnings to only the end panels and skirts at no more than 25 percent of the area. 

Under the new amendment for wall signs, the code now allows for 2-and-a-half square feet of signage per linear foot of wall, to a maximum area of 60 square feet.

"You can have 60 square feet if you have that much linear footage on a wall, but you might end up with less if you don't have enough wall space," said Hosterman. 

Community Development Director John Ernst said the previous code restricted wall signs to be above a ratio of two times the width to one time the height.

"Theoretically," Ernst said, "you are limiting all signs mounted on a wall to a rectangular shape. This change to the ordinance allows us and the property owner the flexibility of providing a wall sign of circular shape or of a vertical rectangle or a square shape. (The ordinance) doesn't restrict someone to a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood on a wall."

The prior ordinance read: 

The area of a wall sign shall not exceed a maximum of 2 1/2 square feet for each linear foot of front building wall on a public street, up to a maximum total sign area of 60 square feet, with a corresponding width to height ratio of 2:1. In determining the size of a wall sign for this purpose, if the letters or symbols are fastened to a panel or if a border circumscribes the letters or symbols, in either case, the area shall be determined by the square footage encompassed by the panel or border. In all other cases, the area shall be determined as that area that would be encompassed within a border if one did circumscribe the sign message or symbols on the outside limits of the same, horizontally and vertically, with straight lines, the horizontal lines being parallel with each other and the vertical lines being parallel with each other

Hansen said business owners could not put a sign up in their windows before this ordinance.

"With this change," Hansen said, "you are going to be able to put up a sign that is attractive and draw business into your business." 

Ernst said that "in theory" that was correct.

Hosterman added that the change gives "more versatility to the size and shape of a sign." 

BJ Rau-Putnam September 22, 2012 at 02:41 PM


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