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Sign Ordinance


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A sign ordinance can help a municipality reduce the visual clutter of signage and end business sign wars. It also can help protect, establish, or enhance community identity.

By regulating the type, size, and location of signs in a municipality (as well as the process for erecting new signs), a sign ordinance can help preserve or create community character and stop visually distracting sign competition between businesses. A municipality may adopt a sign ordinance as a part of the zoning ordinance or as a stand-alone ordinance.

Links to a variety of helpful guides, model ordinances, and examples for establishing and improving sign ordinances are provided below.


These guides provide a comprehensive look at understanding, designing, and implementing sign ordinances. Some also include model ordinances.

Model Ordinances

In addition to the guides listed above that include model ordinances, see:

Ordinance Examples

Below are examples of sign ordinances from municipalities in Pennsylvania and other states. (For more examples, see the Scenic City Certification Program’s Example Ordinances webpage.)

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It is the intent of this model sign code to provide municipalities with a means to both understand and regulate the use of on-premise signs within their jurisdictions. To this end, the model has been designed to provide regulatory schemes for on-premise signs only, and does not include schemes for …
Radnor Township (PA) regulates billboards as a part of its sign ordinance, which is part of the township's zoning ordinance. The provisions prohibit digital billboards and have specific requirements for the location, number, size, and height of billboards.
This guide explains the framework for formulating sign regulations, legal considerations, and ways to accomodate both community and business interests. It also includes model ordinance provisions.
This publication provides an overview of sign regulation, discusses legal issues, safety, aesthetics, and provides some national case study examples of the process for adopting sign ordinances.
Sign ordinance and sign design guidelines for the City of West Hollywood (CA).
Model sign ordinance published by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission that was updated in light of the 2015 Supreme Court case Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which shed more light on the unconstitutionality of content-focused sign ordinances.
Zoning ordinance for the City of Hermitage (PA). See section 409 for sign regulations.
Zoning ordinance for Lancaster Township (PA). See Article 12 for sign regulations.
An excellent document to start your research on crafting a sign ordinance. This document provides a basic understanding of sign ordinances, permissible and prohibited actions of sign ordinance committees, definitions of various sign terminology, and a brief discussion on design review and design r…
Sign ordinance for the City of Hopkins, Minnesota.
The Montgomery County Planning Commission's signage guide and model sign ordinance provides a comprehensive approach to sign regulations by incorporating best practices from communities around the country, appropriate federal and state statutes, and provisions based on recent leading court decision…
Table describing the size and setback limits for different types of signs in each zoning district in Frederick County (MD).
Good street and sidewalk design improves public safety, accommodates a variety of users, reduces environmental impacts, and enhances community character. (Print version of guide)
Section of Columbia Heights (MN) zoning code that deals with sign regulations.
This model sign code was drafted for Monroe County municipalities and was written based upon local municipal ordinances.
A sign ordinance can help a municipality reduce the visual clutter of signage and end business sign wars. It also can help protect, establish, or enhance community identity. (Print version of guide)


Nate Lotze compiled this guide.

The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association produced this guide with support from the William Penn Foundation, the Colcom Foundation, and the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.


Nothing contained in this or any other document available at is intended to be relied upon as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The material presented is generally provided in the context of Pennsylvania law and, depending on the subject, may have more or less applicability elsewhere. There is no guarantee that it is up to date or error free.