COMMUNITY NEWS

January education workshops planned for 2016 sign standards update
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CONCORD – In November, Concord City Council adopted an ordinance that entirely repealed and replaced Article 12 of the Concord Development Ordinance (CDO). This article is known as the sign standards, which regulate all signage within the City limits. The sign standards, like other sections of the CDO, had been amended from time to time. However, the 2016 revision is the first major update since the late 1990s, when the Development Ordinance was repealed and adopted as the Unified Development Ordinance.

Beyond the need for a general update, Concord and other municipalities in the United States are revising sign standards in response to a 2015 US Supreme Court decision that greatly expands the definition of content neutrality in the enforcement of sign standards.

Planning Director Margaret Pearson and her staff worked over the past year on this major project, with the assistance of Benchmark Planning. The goal was to simplify the standards by a reorganization of the document, limiting temporary signs, and improving sign quality.  The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the amendment and voted unanimously to refer the change to Council to consider approval with two additional recommendations.

This update provides an incentive for property owners to invest in high quality and permanent signage. "The updated standards provide increased size allowances for businesses that invest quality signage," said Pearson. "A quality permanent sign will be able to be 50 percent larger than a temporary or cabinet style sign."

City Council adopted the updated standards effective immediately (November 10, 2016) to allow businesses to take advantage of quality incentives, but provided a 120-day grace period (until March 10, 2017) until enforcement of the updated standards begins.

The City is using this 120-day period to educate customers about the updated sign standards. Two identical workshops are currently planned for January to allow business, citizens, and other interested customers learn about the many benefits to the community, the permitting process, compliance methods, and more. The workshop dates are Wednesday, January 18 at 2:00 p.m., and Thursday, January 19 at 10:00 a.m. For more information about the 2016 sign standards update or to register for these workshops, visit concordnc.gov/signs or call 704-920-5152.