BY COUNCILOR KRAUSE:
The city of Duluth does ordain:
Section 1. Statement of legislative intent: The council of the city of Duluth finds that it is necessary to preserve the status quo regarding the city’s regulation of advertising signs, which are more commonly referred to as “billboards” and business signs. The council finds that the outdoor advertising sign industry has begun to install new illuminated or flashing or animated billboard and business signs or reface billboards panels and business signs with electronic panels, some of which include digital technology, light emitting diodes and electronic graphic display. These technologies permit signs to display an electronic image similar to a color television set. These technologies further permit the image displayed to quickly change from one image to another. The council finds that a sign that has been installed or resurfaced with electronic panels utilizing the above mentioned technologies expand, or arguably may substantially expand, the impact of that sign on surrounding land and uses.
The council finds that it is therefore necessary to study the impact of these new electronic signs to determine whether there may be safety and aesthetic implications created by this type of sign that would be detrimental to the public heath, welfare and safety.
The council finds that the city’s existing definitions and regulations as set forth in Chapter 50 of the City Code, providing for the general zoning regulations, and Chapter 44 of the City Code, providing zoning regulations specific to signs, is inadequate to regulate existing signs retrofitted with the new electronic technologies or new signs using such technologies. Therefore, the council finds that a planing study is necessary to adopt new regulations dealing with signs utilizing digital technology, light emitting diodes and electronic graphic display.
Accordingly, it is the desire of the council of the city of Duluth to establish, under this interim ordinance, a moratorium protecting the general health, welfare and safety of the public and preserving the status quo with respect to existing signs retrofitted with the new technologies or new signs using these technologies, pending the conclusion of a zoning study on the same, and until such time as the study has been reported to the council and the effective date of any council action on any recommendations arising therefrom, by immediately prohibiting the issuance of any permit necessary to so retrofit any existing advertising or business sign or install a new advertising or business sign within the boundaries of the city.
Section 2. Moratorium imposed. The city of Duluth hereby imposes on any parcel of land, lot, or part thereof within the boundaries of the city, pending the completion of the said study noted in Section 1 and action by the city council on the said study, a moratorium on the issuance or approval of zoning and building permits for new construction or retrofitting of some types of advertising or business signs using new digital or electronic technology of any type capable of creating electronic images on signs as set out in Section 1, until the expiration of six months or until such earlier time as the city council has taken action on the recommendations contained in the said study or has taken action to end the moratorium. The moratorium shall not apply to the following types of signs:
(a) Public safety signs owned or installed by a federal or state agency or the city of Duluth;
(b) Signs that conform to existing regulations and are less than 9 square feet in total area;
(c) Signs that are greater than 9 square feet in total area that meet the following standards;
(1) The maximum brightness shall not exceed illumination of 3,000 NITS (candelas per square meter) during daylight hours nor of 450 NITS (candelas per square meter) during the period from dusk to dawn, as measured from the signs face at maximum brightness;
(2) The sign shall have an automatic dimmer control to produce a distinct illumination change from a higher illumination level to a lower one for the period of time from dusk to dawn;
(3) Any image or message displayed on the sign must have a minimum duration time of nine seconds and must be a static display. Transition time must not exceed two seconds;
(4) The sign shall not have any audio speakers or sound broadcast devices, nor any form of pyrotechnic display;
(5) The sign shall have a default mechanism that will stop the sign in one position should a malfunction occur;
(6) The sign must not be located in a residential district, and the leading edge of the sign must be at least 100 feet from the nearest point of a residential district, at least 150 feet from a park, and at least 150 feet from any property line of a parcel of land upon which a school is operated;
(7) The sign must be oriented so that no portion of the sign face is visible from an existing or permitted principal structure on any residential lot in a residential zone;
(8) The sign must be in compliance with all existing laws and regulations.
Section 3. That this ordinance shall take effect 30 days after its passage and publication.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This interim ordinance imposes a moratorium on the retrofitting of existing signs or the installation of new signs which are greater than nine square feet in area and use digital or electronic technology that create an image on the sign similar in appearance to a color television set. The interim ordinance will be in effect for six months. During the year, the council is requesting that the city conduct a study on such signs and recommend regulations controlling such signs.