CAROLINA BEACH — The First Amendment gives those living in the United States of America the right to freedom of speech along with other protections. And according to a 2015 Supreme Court decision, it also prevents towns or other localities from creating laws regulating the content of signs in their areas of enforcement.
In a proactive effort to get ahead of any potential issues, the Town of Carolina Beach is considering a revision to its sign ordinance to bring it up to date and in compliance with the SCOTUS ruling.
According to the Town’s Planning and Zoning Board upcoming meeting agenda, “Reed V. Town of Gilbert lead to a decision which determined that signs may be regulated on size, location, and other aesthetics, but cannot have content specific regulations imposed upon them. States, counties, and municipalities have been slowly coming into compliance with the new standard and Carolina Beach plans to be on the front end of the curve by eliminating any content-based restrictions on signs which were previously in its ordinance.”
Carolina Beach has 11 potential conflicts written into its own sign ordinance that are considered content-based.
According to the agenda, “CB sign ordinance currently has 11 sign categories that are regulated individually and are based on content.
- Window/door signs
- Real Estate/off-site
- Government required
- Construction/Future Development
- Special events”
The update also gives the town a chance to address other items in its sign ordinance including some new changes to allowing temporary signs without permits.
If approved, the new code would add Temporary non-commercial signage and read:
a. One temporary sign related to an activity or event may be placed on a parcel 30 days prior to said activity/event, remain up during said activity/event, and must be removed within 10 days of the conclusion of said activity/event.
b. This sign must be non-illuminated and may not exceed 20sqft or 5ft in height.
c. The person, party, or parties responsible for the erection or distribution of any such signs shall be jointly liable for the removal of such signs.
d. The property occupant or, in the case of unoccupied property, the property owner, shall be responsible for violations on a particular property.
e. No temporary signage is permitted in the public right-of-way.
f. Off-site directional signage must be related to an event, will only be permitted while the activity/event is ongoing, and must be removed within 48 hours of the conclusion of said activity/event.
g. No commercial business or product shall be advertised on a residential property.
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