To comply with a Supreme Court ruling, Derry Councilors recently approved changes to the town’s sign ordinance relating to content-based restrictions.
Council members agreed to the amendments during their May 2 meeting.
The changes were made to comply with the 2015 Supreme Court Case of Reed V. Town of Gilbert, AZ by July 1, according to officials
In addition, the changes were also made as part of the Planning Board goals for 2016-17. In proposing the changes, the board and the staff from both Planning and Code Enforcement reviewed the sign ordinance and the Derry zoning ordinance, according to officials.
The changes affect sign displays, church and political signs, campground signs, signs in the commercial business district as well as electronic signs.
In the Supreme Court case, the Court clarified when municipalities may impose content-based restrictions on signage, Planning Board Director Robert Mackey said. Mackey issues sign permits as part of his code enforcement duties.
Mackey said most of the proposed changes pertained to the residential zones. In some cases, there were arbitrary square footage requirements. For instance, the regulations allowed for a 24 square-foot campground sign but only a 20 square-foot church sign.
“So what we did was kind of bring everything into consistency,” Mackey said, adding, “So the claim can’t be made that you are treating somebody differently.”
Changes were also made in the commercial area to ensure all signs are treated the same, he said.
During questioning by councilors, Mackey was asked by Councilor Jim Morgan about the maximum number of signs a business can have and if there is a square foot maximum.
Mackey answered by saying that the limit for businesses is typically three signs, with a 100-square-foot maximum per sign.