AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ELBERTON
BY ADDING TO SECTION 22-27 "DEFINITIONS," DIVISION 1,
"GENERALLY", ARTICLE II, "ZONING," CHAPTER 22, "LAND USE";
AND BY DELETING SECTION 22-35 "SIGNS AND BILLBOARDS,"
DIVISION 1, "GENERALLY," ARTICLE II, "ZONING," CHAPTER 22,
"LAND USE," IN ITS ENTIRETY AND ESTABLISHING A NEW SECTION
22-35 "SIGNS AND BILLBOARDS," DIVISION 1, "GENERALLY,"
ARTICLE II, "ZONING," CHAPTER 22, "LAND USE"; AND FOR ANY
Be it ordained and it is hereby ordained that the Code of the City of Elberton
be amended by adding the following definitions in alphabetical order to Section
22-27 "Definitions," Division 1, "Generally," Article II, "Zoning," Division 1,
"Generally," of Chapter 22, "Land Use":
Definition - Sign:
Sign. Any name, identification, description, display, illustration, banner, string of lights,
or device which is affixed to or represented directly or indirectly upon a
building, structure, or land in view of the general public, and which directs attention to a
product, place, activity, person, institution or business.
A. Abandoned Sign: A sign shall be considered abandoned when the business
activity or firm which such sign advertises is no longer in operation, or does not
have a current business license in effect.
B. Advertising Display Area: The smallest square, rectangle, triangle circle or
combination thereof encompassing the entire advertising area. This excludes
architectural trim and structural support. For the purpose of computing sign area,
only one side of a "V-type" or double faced sign shall be considered.
C. Awning: A shelter projecting from and supported by the exterior wall of a building
constructed of non-rigid materials on a supporting framework.
D. Billboards: Any structural poster panel or painted sign,
either free standing or attached to a building, erected for the purpose or intent of
conveying information, knowledge or ideas to the public. For the purpose of this
definition a billboard shall be considered to be an off-site (off-premises) sign.
Billboards are sometimes referred to as outdoor advertising signs.
E. Canopy: A roofed architectural projection which may or may not be
supported by an exterior wall of the building face and by additional supports,
including, without limitation, columns, upright poles, or braces extended
from the ground.
F. Erect: Shall mean to build, construct, attach, hang, place, suspend, or affix and
shall also include the painting of wall signs.
G. Freestanding: A sign permanently anchored on its own foundation and wholly
independent of any building for support:
1. Pole Mounted
2. Ground Sign
H. Group Development: A group of commercial establishments having a building
composition that is an architectural unit and is not a miscellaneous assemblage
of architectural unit and is not a miscellaneous assemblage of stores; planned,
developed, analyzed as a unit, related in location, size and type of shops to the
trade area that the unit serves and providing on-site parking.
I. Height of Sign: Means the greatest vertical distance measured from the natural
ground level directly beneath the sign to the top of the sign.
J. Historic Sign: Signs 50 years or older or those signs which are particularly
unique in character, design or history, a part of the historic character of a business
or a building.
K. Location: shall mean any lot, premise, building, structure, wall or any place
whatsoever upon which a sign is positioned, placed or affixed. Two location
categories are addressed in these regulations:
1. Off-Site: Any sign or advertisement which indicates the name of a firm,
enterprise, product offered for sale or any combination of these things that is
located off the premises of the so-named firm, enterprise, or product sales area.
For the purpose of this definition, signs located on recorded easements leading to
and contiguous to the premises of a firm, enterprise or product sales area, shall
not be considered off-site.
2. On-Site: Signs located on the premises of a business or firm.
L. Maintenance: The replacing, repairing or repainting of a portion of a sign
structure or renewing of a copy that has been impaired by ordinary wear and tear,
weather or accident.
M. Marquee: Shall mean a permanent roof like structure made of metal or other
durable material affixed to the wall of a building.
N. Multi-family Dwelling Units: Group residential development.
O. Official Sign: Any sign, symbol or device erected and maintained by a
government or governmental agency for the purpose of informing or guiding the
Owner of Sign: A person recorded as such on official records. For the purposes of
this Ordinance, the owner of property on which a sign is located is presumed to be
the owner of the sign unless facts to the contrary are officially recorded otherwise
brought to the attention of the Licensing Department, e.g. a sign leased from a
Q. Parapet: The extension of a false front or wall above a roof line (Not
enclosed by the roof).
R. Person: Includes, but not be limited to, an individual or individuals, a corporation
or corporations, a partnership or partnerships.
S. Post: To affix in any manner, including without limitation nailing, tacking, taping,
tying , gluing, pasting, painting, staking, marking or writing.
T. Principle Use: The use which constitutes the primary activity, function, or
purpose to which a parcel of land or building is put.
U. Right-of-Way: Public domain as it pertains to streets, highways, roads,
V. Roof line: The top edge of the roof.
W. Sign: Any device used for visual communication or attraction including any
announcement, declaration, demonstration, display, illustration, insignia, or symbol
used to advertise, promote or attract the attention of the public; together with all
parts, materials, frames and background.
X. Announcement Sign: A sign used to announce entrance or exit information,
business hours, menus offered or additional off- street parking. Not to include
Y. Banner, Pennant, Streamer, Flag, or other Wind Signs:
Any sign made of any non-rigid material intended to be hung either with or without
frames, possessing characters, letters, illustrations or ornamentations applied to
paper, plastic or fabric of any kind. Definition includes ribbons, streamers,
balloons, or other objects or material fastened in such a manner as to move upon
being subjected to pressure by the wind. National flags, flags of political
subdivisions and symbolic flags of any institution or business shall not be
considered banners for the purpose of these regulations.
Z. Bench Sign: A sign located on any part of the surface of a bench or seat placed
on or adjacent to a public right-of-way.
(1) Sign posts for all new billboards constructed after the date of this ordinance
shall be a single steel unipole for each structure.
(2) No sign shall exceed the height of thirty-five (35) feet from either the level of
the road of the ground surface whichever is higher.
(3) No billboard shall be closer than five (5) feet from right-of-way.
(4) No billboard shall be located closer than five hundred (500) feet from any
other billboard structure located on the same side of the street measured
linearly along the right-of-way.
(5) No individual billboard sign shall exceed an area of three hundred (300)
square feet per face, including trim area border. It will also allow for
back-to-back or V- type construction only: whereas only one sign face is
visible from a direction of travel.
(6) Billboards will only be allowed in B-2 and I zoning districts.
(7) No billboards shall be allowed within five hundred (500) feet of a historical
zone or district.
BB. Canopy, Awning, or Marquee Sign: Any message affixed to, superimposed
upon, painted on any roof like structure, or woven into or made a part of, either
permanently or temporarily extended over a sidewalk or walkway:
Flush-Mounted in such a manner that a continuous plane with the surface
Hanging - suspended from beneath the canopy.
Commemorative Sign: A sign which identifies a site of memorable public
(a) Identifies an area of the city that, by reason of development, natural
features, historical occurrences, common reference or official
designation, has become a landmark or distinct neighborhood or
subdivision of the city.
(b) Is of a commemorative nature, such as a cornerstone, memorial or plaque
cut into a masonry surface or constructed of an incombustible material and
made an integral part of the structure.
DD. Construction sign: Any temporary sign located on the Premises where work is
in progress, and which displays the name of the building, contractor(s),
architect(s), engineer(s), owner(s), lender(s), utility company, product vendor,
selling or development agency, or any other information related to the
construction, alteration, or demolition of a building. Included would be any
warning of danger or hazard signs. This definition is not meant to include
real estate signs.
EE. Flashing sign: A sign with lights or illuminations which flash, blink, move,
rotate, flicker, vary in intensity or color or use in intermittent electrical pulsations.
FF. Identification/Directory Sign: A sign bearing only the names and addresses of
occupants of premises.
Establishes the identity of building or complex by name or symbol only.
(b) Establishes the identity of an occupant by listing name and business or
GG. Illuminated Sign: A sign given light by an artificial source, internally or externally.
HH. Institutional Sign: Any sign which identifies a non-profit organization or
establishment, church or other place of worship, educational facility, civic club or
association, and which is located in the same parcel as the activity identified.
II. Instructional/Directional Sign: A sign exclusive of any commercial messages
which conveys instructions to the public. This could include directions to
public facilities, schools, churches, historic sites, etc.
jj. Illegal Non-conforming Sign: A sign which was in violation of the law governing
the erection or construction of such sign at the time of its erection and which has
never been erected or displayed in conformity with the law. This includes, but is
not limited to, signs which are pasted, nailed, or painted or otherwise unlawfully
displayed upon structures, utility poles, trees and fences.
KK. Legal Non-conforming Signs: Any sign which was lawfully erected and
maintained under the law governing such sign at the time, or within the district, but
which does not conform to the provisions of the present ordinance because of
subsequent changes in the law or in the district (Example: annexation into city
LL. Permanent: Shall mean a sign intended to last indefinitely without change; a sign
with a support post that is anchored a minimum of two feet in the ground and
hole filled with cement, or bolted to a solid foundation.
MM. Political Sign: A temporary, non-commercial sign identifying and urging
voter support of a political party, candidate for public office, or a
ballot issue in a primary, general, municipal, or special election.
NN. Portable Sign: A self-supporting sign which is movable and not permanently
anchored to the ground or affixed to a building or structure, including, but not
limited to, A-frame, T-shaped, or inverted T-shaped sign structures which may be
carried or moved about. This does not include vehicle signs.
OO. Projecting Sign: Any sign which is attached to and projects from the structure or
building face and is not parallel to the structure to which it is attached.
PP. Reader Board: Any sign or portion thereof with characters, letters, or illustrations
that can be mechanically, manually, or electronically changed or rearranged
without altering the face of the surface.
QQ. Real Estate Sign:
a. On-site Real Estate Sign: Sign pertaining to the sale, lease, or rental of
land or buildings on the property where sign is located.
b. Directional Real Estate Sign: An off-premise sign pertaining to the sale,
lease, or rental of land or building.
RR. Roof Sign: Any sign erected, constructed or maintained above the roof line of a
SS. Shopping Center Identification Sign: A sign which is limited to the name of the
shopping center and which may have space on which tenants may place business
TT. Special Event/Temporary: A temporary outdoor advertising sign announcing
special activities, events, personal appearances, shows, or other activities of
the business or institution involved. Included are sales, grand openings,
going out of business, relocations, new product announcements, etc.
Intended for a limited period of display for a specific event.
UU. Vendor Sign: A sign representing a dealership for a specific product. Each
dealership constitutes a separate business and the signage required by the
vendor will be permitted.
VV. Wall Sign: A sign which is attached parallel to the exterior surface of a building or
WW. Window Sign: (Interior) Any sign placed inside or upon a window which faces the
outside and which is intended to be seen from the exterior.
XX. Yard Sale Sign: A temporary sign erected to announce a yard sale.
Be it ordained and it is hereby ordained that the Code of the City of Elberton be
amended by deleting Section 22-35, "Signs and Billboards," Division 1, "Generally,"
Article II, "Zoning," Chapter 22, "Land Use in its entirety and implementing a new Section
22-35, "Signs," Division 1, "Generally" Article II, "Zoning," Chapter 22, "Land Use" as
Section 22-35. Signs
(A) Site Requirements:
(1) No sign other than official signs placed by a government body may be
constructed or placed within any public right-of-way.
(2) No sign shall be attached to or painted on any telephone pole, power pole, or
any tree, rock or other natural object.
(3) When a building or premise used for commercial purposes whether profit or
non-profit, is vacated by the occupant(s), (lessor, tenant, owner), all
signs for whatever purpose, shall be removed within 45 days.
Exceptions are those temporary signs which inform and guide the
public, such as real estate, construction, or instructional.
(4) Any sign giving off light resulting in glare, blinding, or any other such adverse
effect on traffic shall not be erected or maintained. The light from
illuminated signs shall be established in such a way that adjacent
properties and roadways are not adversely affected and that no direct light
is cast upon adjacent properties. on illuminated sign shall be
constructed or maintained within fifty (50) feet of any
(B) Signs not requiring a permit:
1. Announcement Signs
2. Commemorative Signs, no larger than 8 sq. ft. subject to the approval of the
Building Inspector as to their compatibility with traffic patterns and the proposed
location. Setback at least one foot from property line, if free-standing.
3. Construction Signs less than sixteen (16) square feet shall be limited to 31 days
prior to work start through 20 days following substantial completion of work, or upon
issuance of final certificate of occupancy (COO) whichever is earlier. One
sign per street frontage may be erected. Minimum setback is 10 feet.
Maximum height is 12 feet.
4. Instructional/Directional Signs shall be permitted within public right-of-way (except
that no signs shall be erected in center parkways) for churches, schools and non-
profit institutions. Such signs shall not exceed two (2) square feet in area.
The bottom of the sign shall be not less than seven (7) feet above the adjacent grade
for pole mounted signs, or more than 3 feet high for ground signs. Minimum
setback is one (1) foot.
5. Identification/Directory Signs: One identification sign per business shall be
permitted on each building side which adjoins a street. The maximum size of
such sign shall not exceed an area of one-half square foot per linear foot of building
frontage In addition, such signs shall meet the following requirements:
a. The sign shall not extend above the parapet wall of the building or extend to
within one foot of the property line or common building line, nor shall it project
out from the building facade more than 15 inches.
b. In the case of home occupations, one sign or name plate not exceeding
one and one-half (l 1/2) square feet in area indicating the name and/or
occupation of the occupant may be permitted. However, no illuminated
or animated sign shall be used.
6. Official Signs
7. Political Signs
8. Real Estate Signs
9. Special Events/Temporary Signs less than 16 square feet may be erected for a
period of 7 days prior to the event and up to 2 days following the event.
10. Yard Sale Signs
11. Window Signs, Interior - Any sign placed inside or upon a window facing the
outside and which is intended to be seen from the exterior. Exception:
Alcoholic beverage signs may not be displayed in windows.
C. Signs Requiring a Permit:
1. Banner Signs: Banner signs shall be permitted in the City of Elberton with approval
from the City Manager. Approval will be issued upon finding of the following facts:
a. That the banner advertises an event, function or thing of interest which is
open to the public.
b. Banners will be permitted up to 14 days prior to and three (3) days following an
event with an overall limit of thirty (30) days total use.
c. Banners shall be erected no closer than 2 feet from the right-of-way or
d. Commercial banners are permitted with prior approval for one 14 day
period per 3 month period.
2. Bench Signs: Two (2) bench signs per business site are permitted in Zones B1, B2,
P and I. Bench signs are not allowed in historic or residential zones.
3. Canopy, Marquee and Awning Signs: There may be one sign on a canopy,
marquee awning. It may be attached to the underside or be placed flush to the vertical
face of a canopy, marquee or awning. The display area of such sign shall not exceed six
(6) square feet. An awning sign that is either on the awning or part of the awning
shall not exceed twenty-four (24) square feet. Signs attached to the underside of a
canopy, marquee, or awning shall not be less than one (1) foot from outer edge of
canopy, and not less than nine (9) feet above the ground at the lowest extremity of the
sign. Any sign located above the canopy must be flush with the building face.
4. Free-standing Signs: One free-standing sign per type of business shall be
permitted in any zone.
(a) Ground signs are permitted in all zones except R-1. In zones B- 1, B-2, and I
maximum height is 4 feet and area is 16 square feet. In zones R-2 and P
maximum height is 4 feet and area is 16 square feet.
(b) Pole mounted signs are permitted in all zones except R-1 R-2, and P. No
such signs are allowed in designated Historic District. In districts zoned B-1,
maximum size of free-standing signs is 32 square feet and maximum
height is 25 feet. In districts zoned B-2 and I maximum size for
free-standing signs is 100 square feet, and maximum height is 25 feet.
Such sign may not project over a public right-of-way and be no closer
than two (2) foot from the property line and shall have a clearance of nine
(9) feet above the finished grade of a sidewalk and twenty (20) feet above
any road, driveway, or alley.
5. Portable Signs: Each sign shall be required to have a permit obtained by the
person renting, owing, leasing or otherwise displaying the portable sign. The permit will
allow portable signs to be erected according to the following requirements for up to a total
of 56 days per 12 month period, but no longer than 7 days per use. A new business may
be granted a special permit allowing it to use a portable sign for up to 90 days at the time
of business opening. A portable sign shall be located no closer than seven (7) feet from
the property line. The face area on any portable sign shall not exceed thirty-two (32)
square feet. There shall be a maximum of one portable sign per business. Flashing
lights on signs are not permitted. These signs are not allowed in designated Historic
6. Projecting Sign: One projecting sign per business will be permitted. Projecting
signs may not exceed twelve (12) square feet in size. They may project over public
right-of-way but no closer than two (2) feet to a curb line and shall have a minimum
clearance of nine (9) feet above the finished grade of a sidewalk and fifteen (15) feet
above any road, driveway or alley. No projecting sign or supporting structure shall
extend above the top of a parapet wall.
7. Shopping Center Sign: One free-standing sign per center. Sign shall not
exceed 300 square feet when incorporating a listing of businesses or tenants or 150
square feet when limited to the name of the facility. Maximum height of such sign shall
be 25 feet.
8. Wall Signs: One sign per frontage. Such sign shall not project more than 15
inches from the building surface. Such sign shall not extend above the lowest point of
the roof, nor beyond the ends of the wall to which it is attached. Such signs shall have
an aggregate area not exceeding 1.5 sq.ft. for each lineal foot of building face parallel to a
street lot line, or ten percent (10%) of the wall area to which it is attached, whichever is
less. Where a lot fronts on more than one street, the aggregate sign area facing
each street frontage shall be calculated separately. The size of signs attached to
buildings may be increased in area (over the allowable size) by 25% for every 100 feet of
building setback. This shall apply to buildings set back more than 100 feet from the road
right-of-way, and the increase may be pro-rated according to the actual setback distance.
(D.) PROHIBITED SIGNS. The following signs are prohibited in the City of
1. Alcoholic Beverage Signs.
2. Off-Site Signs. No off-site signs shall be allowed within the Elberton City Limits
except as permitted in this Ordinance.
3. Other. No sign shall be attached to or painted on any telephone pole, power
pole, or any tree, rock, or other natural object.
4. Roof Signs.
(E.) PERMITS AND ADMINISTRATION OF ORDINANCE. Prior to the erection or
installation of any signs within the City of Elberton, a sign permit shall be obtained from
the Office of the Building Inspector. The Building Inspector shall issue permits for the
erection or construction of signs which meet the requirements of these regulations and
applicable sections of the Elberton Building Code. Application for permits to erect, hang,
or place a sign in the City of Elberton shall be submitted on forms obtainable from the
Building Inspector. Each application shall be accompanied by plans showing the area of
the sign, size and character and the method of illumination, if any, the exact location
proposed for such sign and in the case of a projecting sign, the proposed method of
fastening said sign to the building structure, the vertical distance between such signs and
the finished grade, and the horizontal distance between such sign and the street
right-of-way line, in compliance with Elberton's building code. Applications for permits to
erect, hang, or place a sign within Historic Districts must be approved by the Historic
Preservation Commission which will issue a Certificate of Appropriateness according to
the provisions of the ordinance to establish a Historic Preservation Commission in the
City of Elberton, established in 1986. The Building Inspector shall not issue a permit for
the erection or construction of a sign within the Historic Districts until a Certificate of
Appropriateness has been issued. Each applicant shall, upon the request of the Building
Inspector, submit any additional information deemed necessary. A permit fee shall be
established from time to time by the Mayor and Council of the City of Elberton at an
amount adequate to cover the costs of filing and inspection.
F. CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE. It shall be unlawful to erect or place any
sign which does not conform to the requirements of these regulations. All signs shall be
kept in a well-maintained manner from peeling paint, deterioration, etc., and all supports,
braces, guys, and anchors shall be kept in constant repair. A sign shall be maintained in
a secure and safe condition. If the Building Inspector is of the opinion that a sign is not
secure, safe, or in a good state of repair, written notice of this fact shall be given to the
person responsible for the maintenance of the sign. If the defect is not corrected within
the time permitted by the Building Inspector, the Inspector may revoke the sign permit
and take possession of the permit until the owner pays the cost of removal, thus placing
the sign owner in violation of the sign bylaw and liable for a fine as specified in the
general penalty clause of the City of Elberton.
(G.) NON-CONFORMING SIGNS. Any sign existing at the time of enactment of or
subsequent amendment of this article, but not in conformity with its provisions and
regulations shall be grandfathered in and shall remain in place as long as they are kept in
good repair. Text changes on billboards do not constitute revocation of the
(H). ENFORCEMENT. It shall be the duty of the Building Inspector to enforce the
specific provisions and requirements of this Ordinance. If any sign is erected or
maintained in violation of the provisions of this Ordinance, the Building Inspector shall
have the power to give the owner thereof written notice of such violation or violations.
Said notice shall include a brief statement specifically detailing the section or sections
violated, and manner in which violation or violations shall be remedied. If the owner is
not known, affixing a copy of the notice to the sign or sign structure or building in question
for a period of thirty (30) days shall be considered sufficient notification. If a sign is not
permitted by this Ordinance, or is in violation in any way, the owner shall remove such
sign within thirty (30) days of notice by the Building Inspector. If a sign is not removed by
the owner or his agent within thirty (30) days of notice by the Building Inspector, the
Building Inspector shall have the right to remove such sign and charge the expense of
removal to the owner, and said Building Inspector shall have the right to dispose of the
sign as necessary. Any person who violates this Ordinance or fails to comply with its
provisions shall upon conviction in the Recorder's Court of Elberton, Georgia, of such
violation, be subject to the general penalty provision of the Elberton Code. Each person
shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each and every day during which any
violation of any provision of this Ordinance is committed or continued. Any person
aggrieved by any decision or order of the Building Inspector may appeal to the Elberton
Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeal by serving written notice within fifteen (15) days
of receipt of notice by the Building Inspector of said decision or order.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby
If any portion of this Ordinance shall be held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such
invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect or impair the remaining portions unless it
clearly appears that such other parts are wholly and necessarily dependent upon the part
held to be invalid or unconstitutional.
First Reading: March 6, 1995, Council Member Kantala
Second Reading: June 5, 1995, Council Member Adams
Adopted: June 5, 1995
Effective Date: June 9, 1995