BY COUNCILOR KRAUSE:
The city of Duluth does ordain:
Section 1. That Section 44-1 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-1. Findings and Ppurpose.
The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate erection and maintenance of signs in the city of Duluth in order that signs might fulfill their necessary and useful function in such a way to preserve the public welfare and safety; to eliminate potential hazards to those using the public streets and sidewalks; to preserve the integrity of residential areas and the character and dignity of public buildings, parks and other open spaces; to enhance property values and the general appearance and natural beauty of the city; to protect the public investment in streets and highways; to assure creation of an attractive business environment; and to promote the orderly and effective display of outdoor advertising.
The city council finds it necessary for the promotion and preservation of the public health, safety, welfare and aesthetics of the community that the construction, location, size, conspicuity, brightness, legibility, operational characteristics and maintenance of signs be controlled. Signs have a direct and substantial impact on traffic safety, pedestrian safety, community aesthetics and property values. The city council recognizes that a great percentage of signs that are blighted, unattractive, or provide an unsafe distraction to motorists can be corrected by sensible quality control through adequate maintenance, inspection and operational guidelines. The city council also recognizes that signs provide a guide to the physical environment and, as such, serve an important function to the community and economy. With respect to electronic signs, including video display signs, the city council finds that they are highly visible from long distances and at very wide viewing angles both day and night and are designed to catch the eye of persons in their vicinity and hold it for extended periods of time. If left uncontrolled, electronic signs, including video display signs, constitute a serious traffic safety threat. The city council intends by this Article of the City Code to establish a legal framework for sign regulation in the city. The regulations promulgated in this Article are intended to facilitate an easy and agreeable communication between people while protecting and promoting the public health, safety, welfare and aesthetics of the community. It is not the purpose or intent of this Article of the City Code to prefer or favor commercial messages or speech over non-commercial messages or speech or to discriminate between types of non-commercial speech or the viewpoints represented therein.
Section 2. That Section 44-2(e) of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
(e) Flashing sign. Flashing sign shall mean a sign which has direct illumination which is not kept constant in intensity at all times when in use, or which exhibits sudden or marked changes in lighting effects and include a video display sign and an electronic graphic display sign. Signs with direct illumination which indicate the time, temperature, date or other public service safety information shall not be considered flashing signs;
Section 3. That Section 44-2(f) of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
(f) Direct illumination. Direct illumination means illumination by light sources which are effectively visible, either directly or through a translucent material, as a part of the sign and illuminate outward therefrom and includes light emitting diodes (LED);
Section 4. That Section 44-2(u) of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended by adding a new Section 44-2(u) to read as follows:
(u) Electronic graphic display sign. Electronic graphic display sign means a sign or portion thereof that displays electronic, static images, static graphics or static pictures, with or without text information, defined by a small number of matrix elements using different combinations of light emitting diodes (LED’s), fiber optics, light bulbs or other illumination devices within the display area where the message change sequence is accomplished immediately or by means of fade, re-pixalization or dissolve modes. Electronic graphic display signs include computer programmable, microprocessor controlled electronic or digital displays. Electronic graphic display signs include projected images or messages with these characteristics onto buildings or other objects.
Section 5. That Section 44-2 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended by adding a new Section 44-2(v) to read as follows:
(v) Video display sign. Video display sign means a sign that changes its message or background in a manner or method of display characterized by motion or pictorial imagery, which may or may not include text and depicts action or a special effect to imitate movement, the presentation of pictorials or graphics displayed in a progression of frames which give the illusion of motion, including but not limited to the illusion of moving objects, moving patterns or bands of light, or expanding or contracting shapes, not including electronic changeable copy signs. The term video display sign includes projected images or messages with these characteristics onto buildings or other objects, and electronic graphic display signs.
Section 6. That Section 44-5 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-5. Nonconforming signs.
(a) Any sign lawfully placed prior to January 22, 1984, or prior to a subsequent change in the regulations of this Chapter or the zoning district boundaries of Chapter 50 of this Code may be continued, even though such sign does not conform to the provisions of this Chapter, with the exception of those signs listed in subsections (b) through (g) immediately below. Subsections (b) through (g) shall not apply to any sign subject to the property acquisition provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Section 173.17(4). Except as hereinafter provided, nonconforming signs may not be enlarged, extended, reconstructed or structurally altered. Normal maintenance, including repair and replacement of the sign face and support members so long as the location and configuration remain the same, and the changing, replacing or altering of the changeable copy of a nonconforming off premises sign shall not be considered as an enlargement, extension, reconstruction or structural alteration of such sign. Nonconforming off premises signs may be enlarged, extended, reconstructed or structurally altered as permitted pursuant to Section 44-36;
(b) Any lawfully erected on premises sign not permitted by the terms of this Chapter, and located within a residential district, as such districts are now or in the future established in Chapter 50 of this Code, or a scenic district, as in this Chapter now or in the future established, shall be removed within five years of the date such sign becomes nonconforming;
(c) Any on premises projecting sign which projects more than four feet into or over a public easement or other public property, or any on premises roof sign that lawfully existed prior to January 22, 1984, shall be removed by January 22, 1989;
(d) Any flashing, animated or revolving sign not permitted by the terms of this Chapter shall be removed by January 22, 1989;
(e) Any sign placed within the right-of-way of a street, highway or pedestrian easement which has been improved for public use, any sign attached to or painted on a tree, fence or accessory building, or any sign prohibited under the terms of sections 44-12, 44-13 and 44-14 of this Chapter, shall be removed by March 23, 1984;
(f) Any ground sign not permitted by the terms of this Chapter, and which is less than 50 square feet in area, shall be removed by March 23, 1984;
(g) Where pole signs are not permitted by the terms of this Chapter because they are in excess of the number of such signs permitted on a site, or because the bottoms of such signs are closer to the ground than permitted, such signs shall be removed by March 23, 1984.
Section 7. That Section 44-11 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-11.Prohibited locations; electronic sign placement and standards.
Except for A-frame signs allowed pursuant to Section 44-12 and temporary signs approved pursuant to Section 44-9 of this Chapter, no sign shall be placed on any street, highway or pedestrian easement or be attached to or painted on a tree, fence or accessory building.
A flashing, electronic display, or video display sign, except for an outdoor scoreboard approved and owned by a government unit, must conform to the following standards:
(a) District limitations. The sign must not be located in a Residential (R) district;
(b) Setback from residential. The leading edge of the sign must be a minimum distance of 100 feet from an abutting residential district boundary;
(c) The sign must be separated from other flashing, electronic graphic display or video display signs by at least 35 feet;
(d) Orientation. In all districts the sign must be oriented so that no portion of the sign face is visible from a park that is over one acre in area and contains improvements for recreational use, which park is within 150 feet of the sign; or a school which is within 150 feet of the sign;
(e) Brightness. The sign must have a maximum illumination as set out in this Article.
(f) Dimmer control. Video display and electronic graphic display signs must have an automatic dimmer control to produce a distinct illumination change from a higher illumination level to a lower level for the time period between one half hour before sunset and one half hour after sunrise;
(g) Audio or pyrotechnics. Audio speakers or any form of pyrotechnics are prohibited;
(h) Duration. Any image or message or portion thereof must have a minimum duration of eight seconds and must be a static display. Transition time must be no longer than 2 seconds; except a time and temperature may have a minimum duration of two seconds;
(i) Default mechanism. All multi-vision signs must be equipped with a properly functioning default mechanism that will stop the sign in one position should a malfunction occur.
Section 8. That Section 44-14 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-14.Illumination and glare.
All sign illumination, whether direct or indirect, shall be so shaded or concealed that it does not create unreasonable and annoying illumination on residential structures constructed prior to the installation of such lighting apparatus. No sign illumination shall shine in any manner that interferes with the vision of motor vehicle operators.
The maximum brightness of a flashing, video display, or electronic graphic display sign shall not exceed illumination of 3,500 nits (candelas per square meter) during daylight hours, nor of 500 nits (candelas per square meter) between dusk to dawn, as measured from the signs face at maximum brightness. The signs must have an automatic dimmer control to produce a distinct illumination change from a higher illumination level to a lower level for the time period between one half hour before sunset and one half hour after sunrise.
Section 9. That Section 44-33 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-33.Controlled highway sign districts.
(a) In addition to other restrictions contained in this Chapter, no off premises sign shall be erected or maintained in a controlled highway sign district unless such sign complies with the spacing regulations itemized in this Section, and unless such sign is located so that it does not interfere with the effectiveness of traffic signs or signals or interfere with a driver's view of approaching, merging or intersecting traffic. A controlled highway sign district shall be defined as all land lying within 500 feet of the outside edges of the roadway pavement of the following described highways:
(1) Interstate Highway No. 35;
(2) Interstate Highway No. 535;
(3) Minnesota Highway No. 194 between the Duluth city limits and 11th Street;
(4) U.S. Highway No. 53 between Central Entrance Road and West First Street;
(b) All off premises signs located within controlled highway sign districts shall be spaced such that in the Interstate Highway 35 and 535 districts, no such sign may be erected or maintained within 800 feet of any other such sign which is located within the same controlled highway sign district; in the Minnesota Highway No. 194 and U.S. Highway No. 53 districts, no such sign may be erected or maintained within 500 feet of any other such sign located in such district unless the signs are on opposite sides of the highway involved. Double faced signs and signs which are closer than two feet from one another shall be considered one sign for purposes of spacing requirements.
Section 10.That Section 44-34 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 44-34.Scenic areas; designated, restrictions.
(a) The following areas are hereby designated to be scenic areas for the purposes of this Chapter:
(1) An area within 500 feet from the outside edge of Priley Drive;
(2) An area within 500 feet from the outside edge of property controlled by the Duluth arena-auditorium administrative board;
(3) The St. Louis Bay waterfront area bounded by Interstate Highway No. 35, Interstate Highway No. 535, the dock line established in Chapter 26 of this Code and the center line of 38th Avenue West extended; and the area bounded by Interstate Highway No. 535, a line parallel to and 300 feet west of Garfield Avenue, and a line parallel to and 100 feet south of Nelson Avenue;
(4) The central business district entrance area commencing at the center of the intersection of Tenth Avenue West and Michigan Street, thence northeasterly along the center line of Michigan Street to the point of intersection with the center line of Mesaba Avenue, thence northerly along the center line of Mesaba Avenue to the center of the intersection of First Street and Mesaba Avenue, thence northeasterly along the center line of First Street to the center of the intersection of First Street and Fifth Avenue West, thence southeasterly along the center line of Fifth Avenue West extended to Interstate Highway No. 35, thence south westerly along a line parallel to Michigan Street to the center line of Tenth Avenue West extended, thence northwesterly along the center line of Tenth Avenue West extended to the point of beginning;
(5) The lake corner area which consists of the area between Superior Street, the Lake Superior shoreline, the center line of 14th Avenue East extended, the center line of Second Avenue West extended;
(6) The Lake Superior waterfront area which consists of the area between the center line of 14th Avenue East extended, the center line of South Street extended and Lake Superior;
(7) The Evergreen Memorial Highway area which consists of the land within 300 feet of the outside edges of the right-of-way of State Highway No. 23 from its westerly entrance to Duluth to 63rd Avenue West, except between Crestline Court and McCuen Street;
(8) The Duluth Harbor area consisting of the land lying within 900 feet of that portion of the U.S. harbor line in the Duluth Harbor lying east of Interstate Highway No. 535;
(9) The London Road area consisting of the land between the center line of 14th Avenue East extended, 28th Avenue East, Jefferson Street and the center line of South Street extended;
(10) The Downtown renaissance district which consists of the area bounded by Second Alley and its extension, Superior Street easterly from Second Avenue West, Interstate Highway No. 35 westerly of Third Avenue East, Third Avenue East and Fifth Avenue West extended, and Second Avenue West extended;
(11) The area:
(A) Within any adjacent platted city block, including those blocks that only adjoin corners; or, with respect to frontage not on platted blocks;
(B) 450 feet from the property line; of the following parks, school grounds and public ways and historic sites:
Canal Park, Cascade Park, Central Park, Duluth Heights playground, Lief Erikson Park, Fairmount Park and Zoo, Harrison Park, Hearding Island Bird Reserve, Indian Park, Indian Point Park, Irving playfield, Kelso Park, Lafayette Park, Lester Park, Lincoln Park, Memorial Park, Norton Park, Pennell Park, Portman Square, Spirit Mountain, Wade Municipal Stadium, Wheeler Field, Cathedral High School, Central High School, Denfeld High School, Duluth Area Vocational and Technical Institute, Lowell School, S.S. Peter and Paul School, St. Anthony's School, St. John's School, St. Michael's School, Stowe School, University of Minnesota Duluth, Washington Jr. High School, Hudson Boulevard, Skyline Parkway Public Park, Fifth Avenue Mall and property listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the state of Minnesota Registry of Historic Sites or Districts;
(12) The Highway No. 2 city approach area, which consists of an area bounded by lines parallel to and 660 feet from the center line of U.S. Highway No. 2 on either side of said highway, the Wisconsin state line, and the alley between Oneota Street and St. Anthony Street;
(b) No flashing sign in excess of 25 square feet in area, nor any off premises sign in excess of 60 square feet in area shall be erected or maintained in scenic areas.
Section 11.That this ordinance shall take effect 30 days after its passage and publication.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This ordinance regulates the location, use and brightness of LED and video signs.