Planning & Zoning Commission


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  AGENDA ITEM: 3.       
Meeting Date: 04/03/2018  
Requested by: Bayer Vella
Submitted By: Patty Hayes, Community Development & Public Works
Case Number: OV1800397

Staff recommends approval.
The proposed zoning code amendment is to expand the use of electronic message boards to include religious institutions and schools.  Currently only theaters, time/temperature and gas price signs may utilize electronic message boards. Schools and religious institutions are currently only allowed to change the message on a monument sign by manually inserting or removing letters. The proposed amendment allows all of the current sign users an equal method of displaying their messages. The proposed amendment does not increase the size, quantity or type of signs already allowed in the code.

Electronic message boards are generally a rectangular shaped screen installed on a sign structure that allows changing messages to be shown to the public.

Sign standards currently in the code, such as limits on movement, brightness, and timing, will continue to apply to the proposed electronic message boards placed on monument signs .

This proposed amendment (Attachment 1) is a small portion of the sign code revisions recognized in the Planning Division 17-19 Work Plan.  This specific amendment to the sign code is being brought forward at this time due to a request from a local church (Attachment 2).
The zoning code allows signs to change messages on monument signs, either manually or electronically, for specific types of sign users which included gas stations, theaters, time/temperature, churches and schools.  However, electronically changing messages have been limited to gas prices, time/temperature and theater listings only.  Other sign users, such as schools and churches, are limited to manually changing the message on a monument sign without electronic methods. An example of the two different types of changeable message signs are shown in Attachment 3.

Since Electronic Message Boards (EMB) were first introduced, technology has advanced to a point that those signs are more available to a wider array of users. Many of the previously mentioned sign users who display changing messages are choosing to change those messages by means of a computer located inside the business rather than by a person manually removing and inserting letters or numbers on the sign. 

The proposed changes to the zoning code will allow all of the same sign users (schools, gas stations, time/temp, churches and theaters ) to continue to change messages on their monument signs but will allow all of them to choose either manual or electronic methods.  

The size of the electronically changing portion of the sign is not clearly defined in the current code.  In researching an appropriate size for an EMB, staff reviewed similar sign allowances in other Arizona jurisdictions along with existing signs near or in Oro Valley (Attachment 4).  Staff found that many jurisdictions allow electronically changing signs on monument type signs with varied size allowances and some do not allow them at all. Staff determined that allowing Electronic Message Boards to use up to 35% of the sign area on a monument sign provides an adequate area for messages to be displayed without overpowering the overall appearance and character of the sign (Attachment 5).

The existing code standards that will continue to apply to the expanded use of the electronic message boards on monument signs include:
  • No constant moving, blinking or flashing
  • Messages can only change once every 24 hours, except there is no limit for fuel price changes
  • Background color of the screen is limited to black
  • Brightness limited to 200 nits
  • Signs must be turned off by specific times
General Plan Conformance

The Your Voice, Our Future General Plan provides the following goals, policies and actions:
Goal Q:  A built environment that creatively integrates landscape, architecture, open space and conservation elements to increase the sense of place, community interaction and quality of life.
Policy Land Use 6: Maintain the small town, neighborly character and improve the design and safety of the built environment.
Action item #125:   Maintain the unique character of Oro Valley by studying and updating:
Signage regulations to emphasize identification and direction over advertising goods or services to maintain compatibility and minimal intrusiveness.
This new code amendment meets this goal by:
  1. Limiting the size of the Electronic Message Boards on monument signs maintains the character of the Town.
  2. The amendment does not increase signage in the Town, but provides an updated code to continue to allow identification of the property.
I MOVE to recommend approval of the Zoning Code Amendment related to electronic message boards on monument signs as shown in Attachment 1.


I MOVE to recommend denial of the Zoning Code Amendment related to electronic message boards on monument signs as shown in Attachment 1.
Attachment 1 Draft Code
Attachment 2 Applicant's Submittal
Attachment 3 Sign Type Comparison
Attachment 4 Research
Attachment 5 Size of Electronic Message Boards


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