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§ 14-904. Accessory Sign Controls.

No accessory sign shall be erected anywhere in the City except in conformity with the applicable provisions of this § 14-904 and all applicable sections of this Zoning Code, except where the provisions of this § 14-904 or other applicable provision of this Zoning Code is expressly superseded. Any accessory sign that does not conform to the requirements of this Zoning Code is declared a public nuisance. No reference to a particular type of use in this § 14-904 shall be construed to imply that the use is allowed under circumstances different from those allowed under Chapter 14-600 (Use Regulations).

These controls apply to specific types of signs in all zoning districts in addition to any other controls imposed by this Zoning Code.

(a) Signs on Awnings and Canopies and Marquee Signs.

(.1) Awnings, canopies, and marquees shall comply with the requirements set forth in § 11-603 of The Philadelphia Code in addition to the requirements in this Code.

(.2) External lighting is permissible under an awning, provided that the lighting is directed toward the area beneath the awning.

(b) Animated Sign Illumination.

(.1) Signs with animated illumination are permitted in base zoning districts as set forth in Table 14-904-1.

(.2) Signs with animated illumination are prohibited within 200 ft. of any intersection of any two or more streets.

(.3) Signs with animated illumination are prohibited within 150 ft. of a residential district or facing any residential district within 300 ft. of the sign with animated illumination.

(.4) Sign Standards.

(.a) Except for Accessory Digital News Tickers, the duration of each message using animated illumination shall be no less than eight seconds. The change time between messages shall be no more than 0.25 seconds.

(.b) During daylight hours, luminance shall be no greater than 1500 nits. At all other times, luminance shall be no greater than 150 nits. Automatic dimming is required to maintain the appropriate illumination levels at all times.

(c) Directional Signs.

Directional signs, including those required by state or federal law, must comply with the following standards:

(.1) No directional sign shall exceed a total sign area of 10 sq. ft. or a height of 7 ft. except in the case of a clearance sign.

(.2) Logos are permitted on directional signs, provided they do not exceed 10% of the total sign area.

(.3) Projecting directional signs are permitted.

(.4) Animated illumination and mechanical movement signs are prohibited.

(d) Extension of Signs over Public Rights-of-Way.

(.1) This subsection (d) is applicable to any portion of a sign that extends over a public right-of-way.

(.2) Pursuant to § 5-903 [renumbered to § 4-606] of The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, Art Commission approval is required.

(.3) A sign, except in the case of a marquee sign or a sign on the front or sloped panel of an awning, shall be limited to the following extensions over public rights-of-way:

(.a) No more than six in. when the lowest part of the sign which extends over the right-of-way is less than eight ft. above the right-of-way;

(.b) No more than two ft. when the lowest part of the sign which extends over the right-of-way is between eight ft. and 10 ft. above the right-of-way; and

(.c) No more than four ft. or two-thirds of the width of any sidewalk, whichever is less, when the lowest part of the sign which extends over the sidewalk is more than 10 ft. above the sidewalk.

(d.1) Menu Board Sign.

In addition to other permitted signage, a take-out restaurant with drive-through service may have up to two free-standing menu board signs; each shall be no larger than 55 sq. ft. Each menu board sign shall also adhere to all applicable provisions under § 14-805 (Drive-Throughs and Vehicle Stacking Areas).

(e) Projecting Signs.

A projecting sign shall not extend more than four ft. from the building facade to which it is attached.

(f) Roof Signs.

Roof signs are prohibited in all zoning districts.

(g) Temporary Signs and Real Estate Signs.

(.1) Real Estate Signs.

(.a) Real estate signs shall not be calculated against the maximum sign area permitted by this Zoning Code.

(.b) A real estate sign in a Residential district shall not exceed the size set forth in § 14-903(2)(d)(.1). A real estate sign in all other zoning districts shall not exceed the size set forth in § 14-903(2)(d)(.2).

(.2) Temporary Signs Other than Real Estate Signs.

(.a) Temporary signs, except for signs that are exempt from the requirement to obtain a zoning permit by § 14-903(2), shall be calculated against the maximum sign area permitted by this or other applicable chapters on the site. Where permanent signage accounts for 100% of the maximum permitted sign area, temporary signs are prohibited.

(.b) After a zoning permit for a temporary sign has been approved and the sign has been placed or erected, no application for a zoning permit for the same temporary sign or a substantially similar temporary sign on the same property may be accepted by L&I until at least three months after the expiration date of the approved zoning permit.

(h) Wall Sign.

Unless otherwise provided by this Zoning Code, wall signs shall not extend above the roof line or the second floor window sill of a structure, whichever is lower.

(i) Window Sign.

(.1) Window signs shall be limited to the ground floor, except that in CMX-2, CMX-2.5, CMX-3, CMX-4, CMX-5, CA-1, and CA-2 districts, window signs for businesses that are not located on the ground floor shall also be permitted in second floor windows. The total area of signs placed within a window or transparent glass door shall not exceed 20% of the total transparent glazed area of the window or transparent glass door within which they are placed, as defined in § 14-203 (Definitions).

(.2) The amount of area permitted for a window sign is in addition to the maximum sign area permitted in § 14-902(2) (Controls Applicable to Specific Zoning Districts and Defined Areas).

(.3) Signs may be placed in no more than two windows; two transparent glass doors; or one window and one transparent glass door.

(j) Portable Sign.

Portable signs shall be temporarily secured to resist rolling, blowing away, tipping over, or otherwise moving from their secured location.

(a) Sign Controls Table 14-904-1.

Additional sign regulations applicable to specific zoning districts are shown in the following tables, collectively labeled Table 14-904-1.

(.1) Sign Type.

The columns labeled "Sign Type" indicate the types of signs permitted in the zoning district. Where a sign type is not listed in the table, it is prohibited.

(.2) Standards.

The rows labeled "Standards" beneath each permitted sign type indicate the restrictions on the number of permitted signs, allowable sign area, and height for the corresponding permitted sign type. If two or more sign types are listed in the corresponding column, the standards shall apply to all of the permitted sign types in combination. For example, if a maximum sign area of 100 sq. ft. applies to wall signs and awning/canopy signs, then the total sign area of all wall signs and awning/canopy signs shall not exceed 100 sq. ft.

(.3) Sign Characteristics.

(.a) Static Illumination.

A "Yes" in the row labeled "Static Illumination" indicates that constant illumination is permitted for the sign type in the corresponding column. A "No" indicates that static illumination is prohibited.

(.b) Animated Illumination.

A "Yes" in the row labeled "Animated Illumination" indicates that animated illumination is permitted for the sign type in the corresponding column. A "No" indicates that animated illumination is prohibited.

(.c) Digital Sign.

A "Yes" in the row labeled "Digital Sign" indicates that digital signs are permitted for the sign type on the corresponding column. A "No" indicates that digital signs are prohibited.

(.d) Mechanical Motion.

A "Yes" in the row labeled "Mechanical Motion" indicates that mechanical motion is permitted for the sign type in the corresponding column. A "No" indicates that mechanical motion is prohibited.

(.e) Electronic Message Sign.

A "Yes" in the row labeled "Electronic Message Sign" indicates that electronic message signs are permitted for the sign type in the corresponding column. A "No" indicates that electronic message signs are prohibited.

(.f) Accessory Digital News Ticker.

An accessory digital news ticker shall be permitted only in the Market Street East Advertising District, subject to the requirements of § 14-906(6).

(.4) Special Provisions relating to CMX-2.5.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Table 14-904-1, in the CMX-2.5, Neighborhood Commercial Mixed-Use district, located within the area bounded by Juniper Street, East Passyunk Avenue, and Mifflin Street, one accessory cabinet sign, with static internal illumination, shall be permitted to extend above the roofline of a building, provided that the property upon which the building is located has at least two street frontages, the sign does not extend more than 9 feet above the roofline of the building and the applicant provides L&I with documentation showing that the sign was installed prior to November 30, 2017. However, if such accessory sign is altered or moved, after this subsection becomes effective, the sign shall comply with the requirements of Table 14-904-1.

If the provisions of this subsection (2)(a)(.4) conflict with any other provisions of this Zoning Code, the provisions of this subsection shall govern.

Table 14-904-1: Accessory Sign Controls for Specific Zoning Districts {For a printable PDF version, click HERE}

RSD-1/2/3, RSA-1/2/3, RTA-1, RMX-1/2

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

N/A

Maximum Area

(sq. ft. for each lot frontage)

Home Occupations (except as provided in § 14-604(10)(b)(.1)): 1

Non-Residential Uses: 15

Home Occupations: Prohibited

Non-Residential Uses: 15

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

7 ft.

Additional Requirements

N/A

Prohibited in required setbacks

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination (all)

No

No

Mechanical Motion

No

No

RSA-4/5 and RM-1

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

N/A

Maximum Area

(sq. ft. for each lot frontage)

Home Occupations (except as provided in § 14-604(10)(b)(.1)): 1

Non-Residential Uses: 15

Home Occupations: Prohibited

Non-Residential Uses: 15

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

7 ft.

Additional Requirements

N/A

Prohibited in required setbacks

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination (all)

No

No

Mechanical Motion

No

No

RM-2/3/4 and RMX-3

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

N/A

Maximum Area

(sq. ft. for each lot frontage)

Home Occupations (except as provided in § 14-604(10)(b)(.1)): 1

Non-Residential Uses: 24

Home Occupations: Prohibited

Non-Residential Uses: 15

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

7 ft.

Additional Requirements

N/A

Prohibited in required setbacks

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination (all)

No

No

Mechanical Motion

No

No

CMX-1

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall and Projecting

Standards

Maximum Number

Wall: N/A

Projecting: 1 per frontage

Maximum Area

(sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage)

Lots with one building frontage:

1

Lots with more than one building frontage:

Short side(s): 1

Long side: 0.5

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Animated Illumination

No

Digital

Display

No

Mechanical Motion

No

CMX-2 and CMX-2.5

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

Wall: N/A

Projecting: 1 per frontage

1 per building

Maximum Area

Lots with one building frontage:

Lots with more than one building frontage:

3 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

Short side(s): 3 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

Long side: 2 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

100 sq. ft. total

Maximum Height

The lower of roof line or second floor window sill

20 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes, except that in the CMX-2.5 district internally-illuminated cabinet signs shall be prohibited.

Yes

Animated Illumination (all)

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

CMX-3

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per building

Maximum Area

Lots with one building frontage:

Lots with more than one building frontage:

6 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

Short side(s): 6 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

Long side: 4 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of building frontage

100 sq. ft. per face; up to 2 faces

Maximum Height

The lower of roof line or second floor window sill

20 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination (all)

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

CMX-4/5

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per frontage

Maximum Area

2 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of ground floor frontage; 100 sq. ft. per sign

50 sq. ft./face; up to 4 faces

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

10 ft.

Additional Requirements

Notwithstanding § 14-904(1)(d), projecting signs shall not extend more than 24 in. over any public right-of-way

N/A

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

As provided in § 14-906(6)

As provided in § 14-906(6)

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

CA-1

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Portable

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per lot

1 per building frontage

Maximum

Area

10 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of ground floor frontage of the business or tenant with which the sign is associated

200 sq. ft. / face, up to 2 faces

10 sq. ft.

Maximum Height

The higher of the roof line or parapet wall, if applicable

40 ft.

5 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

No

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

No

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

No

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

No

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

No

CA-2

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Portable

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per 15,000 sq. ft. of lot area

1 per building frontage

Maximum

Area

10 sq. ft. per lin. ft. of ground floor frontage of the business or tenant with which the sign is associated

150 sq. ft. / face, up to 4 faces

10 sq. ft

Maximum Height

The higher of the roof line or parapet wall, if applicable

40 ft.

5 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

No

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

No

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

No

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

No

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

No

IRMX and ICMX

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per lot frontage

Maximum

Area

Lots facing one street line: 3 sq. ft./lin. ft. of building frontage

Lots facing more than one street line: 3 sq. ft./lin. ft. of building frontage on the short side, 2 sq. ft./lin. ft. of building frontage on the long side

100 sq. ft. / face, up to 4 faces

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

20 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

I-1

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

N/A

1 per lot frontage

Maximum

Area

100 sq. ft. per lot frontage

100 sq. ft. / face, up to 4 faces

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

20 ft.

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Wall: Yes

Others: No

Yes

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

I-2/I-3/I-P

Permitted Sign Types:

Wall, Projecting, and Marquee

Freestanding

Standards

Maximum Number

Others: N/A

1 per lot frontage

Maximum

Area

1 street front: 15 sq. ft./lin. ft. of building frontage

2+ street fronts: 15 sq. ft./lin. ft. on short side, 5 sq. ft./lin. ft. on long side

100 sq. ft. / face, up to 4 faces

Maximum Height

The lower of the roof line or second floor window sill

20 ft.

Additional Requirements

N/A

N/A

Permitted Sign Characteristics

Static Illumination

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Digital Sign

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Electronic Message Sign

Yes

Yes

Animated Illumination: Accessory Digital News Ticker

No

No

Mechanical Motion

Yes

Yes

Special Purpose Districts (Chapter 14-400)

Sign controls for the Special Purpose Districts are shown in the regulations for those districts in Chapter 14-400 (Base Zoning Districts).

In the CMX-4, CMX-5, IRMX, ICMX, and I-1 districts, building identification signs in excess of the signage allowed by Table 14-904-1 are permitted on a building, provided they are approved by the Art Commission and comply with the following requirements:

(a) A building identification sign is permitted on each facade of a building, provided the signs contain the same message for the same single tenant on each facade. For example, the Widget Corporation could have an identical logo sign on each building facade of the building in which it is located.

(b) The bottom edge of a building identification sign must be at least 150 ft. high.

(c) Roof building identification signs shall be prohibited. Wall building identification signs shall not extend above the roof line.

(d) Building identification signs with animated illumination shall require special exception approval.

(a) Applicability.

The standards of this subsection (4) shall apply to any signs:

(.1) Within the boundary lines of Roosevelt Boulevard or the Cobbs Creek Parkway, as those boundary lines are determined by the Streets Department;

(.2) Within the boundary lines of Fairmount Park or Cobbs Creek Park;

(.3) Within 200 ft. of any boundary line set forth in subsection (.1) or (.2), if the sign is visible from within any area set forth in subsection (.1) or (.2); or

(.4) Within land under the jurisdiction of DPR.

{For printable PDF version of image, click HERE}

{For printable PDF version of image, click HERE}

(b) Special Sign Review.

(.1) L&I shall only issue a zoning permit for a sign subject to the provisions of this subsection (4) if L&I determines that:

(.a) The sign complies with all applicable provisions of this Zoning Code,

(.b) The sign is in compliance with applicable regulations of DPR, and

(.c) The sign has been approved by the Art Commission.

(.2) A zoning permit shall be granted for the continued maintenance of any sign lawfully in existence within the areas defined in subsection (a), above, on December 31, 1969, without requiring compliance with any of the other provisions of this subsection. However, any such sign shall not be altered or moved in any substantial manner unless it is made to comply with all the requirements of this subsection.

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