Council Amends City of Troy’s Sign Ordinance

By CYNTHIA KMETT

After a year of study, Troy city council approved amendments to the city’s sign ordinance at their meeting on Monday, September 24.

These amendments follow the construction of five 200-square-foot electronic billboards on Rochester and Maple Roads in 2017, which were allowed under the City’s then existing sign ordinance. These signs, which were legal at the time, can remain, at least for the next few years.

As the signs went up, so did residents’ protests to the city. The Troy City Council immediately declared a moratorium on new signs until it could consider amendments to the sign ordinance. This moratorium will now expire on October 10.

But there are changes. With this new ordinance, the City now prohibits off-premise signs and reduces the size of allowable signs. It was Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek who brought up the off-premise conflict. She didn’t want property owners to sell the right to put someone else’s sign in their front lawn. She saw that as the property owner starting another business venture.

But, this new rule does not apply to temporary signs, which means you can still put your favorite political sign in your lawn, or the sign for your roofer or sprinkler company. Those signs are only allowed for 60 days, and political signs are due down within 10 days after the election, win or lose.

It also incorporates amendments that were required as a result of changes to other sections of Troy’s ordinance, and recent court decisions. The Supreme Court has declared a city cannot restrict contents, as that infringes on free speech.

The City also has addressed some safety concerns by addressing Electronic Messaging Signs.

There are some safety regulations, such as the allowable brightness of signs that are effective immediately. The signs can be tested for brightness, and have to be capable of toning that brightness down or face fines.

There are other regulations that will apply to new signs only. There is also an amortization period, where existing signs that do not comply with the new regulations can only remain for eight years. This provision was included as a balance of property rights against sign pollution concerns and is consistent with the City’s conservative fiscal posture.

These off-premise rules do not apply.

The sign battles are not over. First of all, two sign providers have sued the city, one for the three billboard signs that were sidetracked during the moratorium and one who wants a billboard on I-75, which Troy has denied for many years.

Mayor Dane Slater said the idea of a committee to study other sign questions was a good one. He wanted to see all sides of the sign question involved and asked Troy City Manager to give council some ideas on how such a committee might work.

It’s a long ordinance, but you can read it on the city’s website at troymi.gov/. For more information, contact Zoning & Compliance Specialist Paul Evans at 248-524-3359.