Allowable signage is calculated differently depending on the zoning district where the sign is to be displayed. The Sign Ordinance is part of the Building Code Regulations; however, it is primarily enforced by the Planning and Zoning Division.
- View the Sign Ordinance
- Sign Permit Application and Fee Schedule
- Purpose of Sign Regulations
- Definition of a Sign
- Pennants, Banners, and Flags
- Violations of the Sign Ordinance
Questions regarding sign permits can be answered by the Planning and Zoning Division at 540-432-7700.
You may apply for a sign permit on-line via the Permitting Web Portal or in person at the Community Development Building Inspections Division, 409 South Main Street, 2nd floor, Harrisonburg, VA.
Sign Permit Application [128KB]
Sign Permit Fee Schedule [33KB]
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Purpose of Sign Regulations
The purpose and intent of the Sign Ordinance is to regulate the use of publicly visible displays or graphics; to protect and enhance the character of roadways and surrounding areas; to prevent diminishing property values due to excessive signage; to safeguard the public use and nature of roadways; and to minimize visual distractions to motorists along public roads. The regulations are specifically designed to:
- Promote maximum legibility of signs and to prevent their over-concentration as well as excessive height, bulk and area.
- Promote the safety of persons and property by requiring that signs not create a hazard due to collapse, fire, collision, decay or abandonment; do not obstruct firefighting or police surveillance; and do not create traffic hazards by confusing or distracting motorists or by impairing the driver's ability to see pedestrians, obstacles or other vehicles, or to read traffic signs.
- Enable customers and other persons to identify and locate a business or service.
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A sign is an identification, description, illustration or device which is affixed to or represented directly or indirectly upon a building, structure, or land, rock, tree or other natural object, and which directs attention to a product, place, activity, person, institution or business. The different types of signs permitted in the City are defined in Section 11-7-2 of the Sign Ordinance.
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Pennants, banners, streamers and all other fluttering, spinning or similar-type signs and advertising devices are prohibited except as specified below:
a. National flags and flags of political subdivisions of the United States and flags associated with the Armed Forces.
b. Corporate/business flags only when erected on the same pole as, or directly adjacent to, displays containing flags as listed in subsection 11-7-3 (5)(a) Corporate/business flags shall be no larger in size than flags as listed in 11-7-3 (5)a., and shall be limited in number to one (1).
c. Flags of bona fide nonprofit civic, charitable, cultural, fraternal and welfare organizations.
d. Flags used for decorative purposes on residentially zoned property that do not have words or images related to advertising a site for business purposes located outside of the setback from all public streets unless within five (5) feet of a permitted sign structure within the setback. Such flags must be affixed in permanent foundations, on permitted sign structures, or on principal buildings.
e. Pennants, banners, streamers and other fluttering, spinning or similar-type advertising devices pertaining to and during nationally recognized holiday periods, or during a special civic or cultural event.
f. As permitted within Section 11-7-11 of the Sign Ordinance, which includes special regulations for the downtown area.
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An owner or lessee of either the site or the sign who fails to correct any violation of this chapter within ten (10) days after receiving written notice of violation from the Director of Planning and Community Development or their designated agent, shall upon conviction be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
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