New sign ordinance planned in Christiansburg

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The town of Christiansburg is attempting to bring its current sign ordinance up-to-date. So far, it has not come with a lot of criticism like one recently passed by Montgomery County.


Twice at a planning commission and once at a council meeting, no one spoke against the measure.

Tuesday night, Planning Director Andrew Warren gave details of the plan to council members, saying in most cases, this change would benefit the business by allowing signs to be much higher, thus creating better visibility.

But that scope would be limited as the maximum height of signs will only change in the B-3 district.

Melissa Powell, the town’s public information officer, also said interstate exit ground-freestanding signs could be increased to 75 feet in height if the property is less than a 1,000 feet from one of the two town exits off of I-81.

“Permanent ground-freestanding signs for a single business are proposed to be increased from 50 square feet to 75 square feet in the B-3, General Business zoning district.  Also in B-3, a ground-freestanding shopping center sign for multiple businesses is proposed to be increased from 150 square feet to 200 square feet of sign area,” she said.

The goals of the revision, according to Warren, is to come into compliance with the Supreme Court ruling making all regulations content neutral.

“We also want to move the sign regulations from a stand-alone chapter to a part of the zoning ordinance. In addition, the change will address the time frame for temporary signs like political and real estate, while removing outdated and duplicative definitions and sections,” he said.

So far, the town’s planning commission has not voted on the matter nor have they passed along any recommendation to council.

Warren said planning commission will discuss the changes at its meeting on Monday.

“From there, they would then pass along a recommendation to council,” he said.

The draft is a combination of the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia model ordinance and the town’s existing sign ordinance. Public input has also helped to shape the new language with comments being received from the business community.

Just a month ago, a large contingent of business owners expressed concern over a similar plan by county leaders. Their biggest concern stemmed around signs in the windows of local businesses.

“No, the Town of Christiansburg does not currently regulate signage inside windows and this is not proposed to change,” Powell said.

Councilman Steve Huppert had been pushing for a time frame for political signs, saying they stay up too long, and in some cases, for many weeks after the election is over.

Under the new plan, those signs will be restricted to 90 days.

In the midst of these changes, an outdoor advertising company has asked for an exception. Lamar Advertising points out the town’s Renva W. Knowles Trail Bridge along Peppers Ferry Road has created an obstruction to two of its current billboard located just west of the New River Valley Mall.

Lamar hopes the town will allow them to increase the height of the signage by 14 feet. Lamar’s Chip Dix told council the bridge railings block the visibility of the billboards.

“We would just like to raise them to relieve this problem,” he said.

Council took no action on the Lamar request and took it under advisement as they continue to discuss the overall sign ordinance.

Council will revisit the matter at its Aug. 22 meeting. If approved, the new standards would become law from that day forward.