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What You Should Know BEFORE Placing a Temporary Sign
Chesapeake City Code
Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance
(Sections 14.705.E and 14-710)
Signs fixed to road signs, staked in the medians,
planted on roadsides, tacked to utility poles
and nailed to fences are illegal.
They can pose a hazard for motorists and pedestrians by distracting drivers and creating blind spots. Illegal signs can be blown free, landing in traffic, hitting a car or a passing pedestrian. Temporary signs cannot be closer than 15 feet from the edge of the pavement. Citizens should not remove and dispose of illegal signs in the public right-of-way.
Do I need a permit for a sign?
It's safe to assume that a permit is required for a sign and must be acquired not less than 10 days prior to its placement. Before putting out a sign, contact the Department of Development and Permits at 382-6018 to determine the need for a permit and any restrictions that may apply.
Where can a sign be placed?
All signs shall be setback from public roads and comply with other related requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Setbacks can extend into a yard and vary, depending on where the City's right-of-way is located. In general, signs cannot be located any closer than 15 feet from the edge of a paved road. No signs shall be placed on roadway medians or between a sidewalk and the road . A survey of your property should identify the public right-of-way. Property and right-of-way lines are recorded on your survey or plat that is on file at the City Court. If the minimum 15 foot setback is on private property, then approval of the property owner must be obtained.
How large can a sign be?
The size will depend on the purpose of the sign. In residential areas, signs may not exceed 16 square feet (4'x4'). Garage sale signs shall not exceed 4 square feet (2'x2') and be placed no higher than 4 feet. Check with the Neighborhood Service Office for specifications on sizes.
How long can a sign stay up?
The duration that a temporary sign may be displayed depends on its purpose (per Zoning Ordinance 14-704(H)).
- Business openings .......................... 30 days.
- Special sales events ........................ 15 days.
- Home site auctions .......................... 45 days
- Special civic/cultural events .............. 45 days
- Special household family events ........ 10 days
What about property other than my own?
No signs advertising a business or service can be posted in the right of way or on any private property other than the property where the business is located. Only political, real estate, special civic and cultural event, home site auction and special household family event signs can be placed on private property.
What about political campaign signs?
Political signs placed near a public street or highway must be located, in their entirety, a minimum of ten (10) feet from the edge of the pavement of such street or highway, including any curb or gutter. The maximum sign area for a political sign is 32 square feet, and the maximum height is 8 feet. On residentially zoned properties, the maximum sign area is 16 square feet, and the maximum height is 4 feet. No political sign may be placed on a property without the expressed permission of the property owner. For more information on posting political signage, see our Voter Registrar.
Can a sign be placed on a utility pole?
Signs are not allowed on public utility poles or traffic control devices.
What happens to illegal signs?
Signs that are not in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance are collected and disposed by the City. Illegal signs will not be returned. Members of the Sign Sweeper program have been trained by the Public Works Department and have permission to remove illegal signs.
How do I find more information?
The Chesapeake City Code (Section 66-121.1) and Zoning Ordinance (Sections 14.705.E and 14-710) provides specific regulations on the display and use of signs. Assistance is also available by calling the Neighborhood Services Department at 382-6018.
See Chesapeake City Codes and Ordinances and search for "signs."
How can I report an illegal sign?
To report an illegally placed sign, call the Chesapeake Customer Contact Center at (757) 382-CITY (2489), or place your request online through the Customer Contact Center.
Can I remove illegal sign?
Individual citizens or groups should not remove illegal signs from the public right-of-way. Only City employees under the direction of the Directors of Public Works or Development and Permits are allowed to remove illegal signs on public property. Citizens who are part of the Sign Sweepers program and have been trained by the City of Chesapeake also have permission to remove illegal signs, as per their agreement with the City.
How can I help control illegal signs?
Citizens can help keep illegal signs out of their neighborhoods by reporting the location to the Chesapeake Customer Contact Center at 382-CITY(2489). The City also encourages residents, businesses and civic organizations to take an active role in helping to keep our city's streets and highways attractive and litter-free. The City's Sign Sweepers, Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Spot programs are available to any local community groups, businesses, or individual families who want to help maintain their neighborhoods and communities.
The City of Chesapeake authorizes the use of signs which are compatible with their surroundings; appropriate to the type of activity to which they pertain; expressive of the identity of individual proprietors or of the community as a whole; legible in the circumstances in which they are seen; and protective of the public's health, safety and welfare. The Chesapeake City Code and Zoning Ordinance provide specific regulations on the display and use of signs.
For the purpose of simplicity and brevity, this brochure provides information only on "temporary" signs and may be subject to change. For more detailed information or clarification on the City Code and Zoning Ordinance, contact the Chesapeake Customer Contact Center at 757-382-CITY (2489).
Public property owned and maintained by the City or the State. Right-of-Way lines vary depending on the property and are often displayed on property surveys (plats).
A sign which provides a statement, information, or image relating to a local, state or national election, referendum or similar public vote.
The distance between a sign and the adjacent lot line, street or right-of-way. Measurement of the setback distance shall be made from the point of the sign nearest the adjacent lot line, street or right-of-way.
A sign not permanently mounted to a building or into the ground. To be deemed permanently mounted, a sign must be (a) attached or secured by bolting, welding, molding, nailing, concrete or similar mechanisms; (b) made of materials enabling the sign to maintain its structural integrity and the clarity of its graphics, over a period exceeding one year; and, (c) permitted through the Departments of Neighborhood Services and Public Works. Signs attached by rope, string, chain, tape, paste and similar mechanisms; signs not rigidly attached to a supporting structure; signs made of paper, cloth and similar materials; and signs that are pushed, hammered or similarly put in the ground are presumed to be temporary signs.