Smithfield looks to tighten temporary sign rules

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

Smithfield’s Planning Commission took its first look on April 9 at proposed changes to the town’s zoning ordinance to limit how long temporary signs, such as those endorsing a political candidate, can remain in residents’ yards.

The new regulation would reduce the allowed window from six months to three and repeal an August-through-November exemption for “personal expression signs,” which are defined in the ordinance as those that draw attention to an opinion, interest, position or other non-commercial message.

The ordinance currently specifies that, with the exception of A-frame signs, temporary signs are not to be placed within any right-of-way.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The proposed time frame and verbiage clarifying that temporary signs are to be placed a minimum of 10 feet from any right-of-way, and not impair any sight triangle or the visibility of any traffic control sign, would mirror what’s already in place in Isle of Wight County’s sign regulations.

Smithfield’s proposed changes would further clarify that personal expression signs are not to be erected on vacant lots without the property owner’s permission, and not be located in any right-of-way. Temporary signs on private property, even if not located in a right-of-way, may be removed by the town if a violation of Smithfield’s sign regulations is not resolved within seven days of the date written notice is sent to the alleged violator.

“Signs, found to be in violation of the ordinance, are removed by the Community Development & Planning staff and are held at Town Hall,” Smithfield Community Development and Planning Director Tammie Clary told The Smithfield Times. “Usually there is a phone number on the sign so that we can notify the sign owner.”

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a slate of changes to its sign ordinance, including the temporary sign regulations, at its 6:30 p.m. meeting on May 14. Once the commissioners vote on a recommendation, the proposed changes will head to the Town Council for a final decision.