Apr 14, 2019

Signage is regulated by government. The materials, sizes, shapes, content, and design all may come under the scrutiny of regulators. In many locations, signage is regulated by the federal government, the state, the county, and the locality. Some of the signage issues are common to all these levels of government. Others, however, are unique to one level. Governments have various degrees of authority to tell us where we can put our signs. And when. Or whether we can put up a sign at all. An experienced sign contractor makes sure clients are in full compliance with regulations requirements for sign permits.


Let’s say. for example,  a business owner in the western Broward County, FL, town of Weston wants to put up a digital sign on the side of the building. Digital signage, after all, has many great features. For one thing, the owner can easily change the message.

The City of Weston’s Code of Ordinances makes it clear that keeping the town beautiful is a top concern. This is a very proper priority for local government. It goes to property values and quality of life.


Our Weston business owner thereupon meets an obstacle. The City of Weston Code of Ordinances specifically prohibits signs that “contain a visible light source”. Specifically, signs containing LEDs. Oh, well. A different type of (permitted) sign will have to do. The upside is that this business owner won’t have to comply with federal regulations for LED signs!

There may well be exceptions in the Code that would get around this. Our business owner, though, doesn’t want to get down in those weeds.

So it’s to be a conventional sign. Broward County is interested. In short, another permit. Except, of course, for the exceptions. Broward County’s signage regulations are, in fact, similar to Weston’s, with a little less emphasis on aesthetics and more on safety. Makes sense. There’s much more variety over a county’s area. Rather than requiring signs to be beautiful, Broward merely insists they be “…compatible with their surroundings.


On to the State of Florida. The State’s signage permits and regulations apply to “… the State Highway System outside an urban area or on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system…”. This means, “… a sign located within the controlled area which is visible from any portion of the main-traveled way of such system.”.  Our Weston business owner, therefore, has to consider the location and its visibility. Might need a State of Florida permit, might not. The State law, of course, has a list of exceptions, signs that don’t need permits.


Finally, Washington, DC and the federal government. As has been noted, the FCC regulates the LED signs our Weston business owner probably won’t use. The Department of Transportation has a set of traffic-related regs. Of most likely concern to our Weston business owner is the proposed sign’s fit to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.


Pretty daunting, isn’t it? How can anyone steer through these four levels of law just to put up a legal sign? Fortunately, you don’t have to. Long experience has taught us at GraphPlex the safe and sure routes through signage permits and regulations.


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