NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

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CITY OF OPELIKA,
ALABAMA
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the City Council of the City of Opelika will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 204 S. 7th Street, Opelika, Lee County, Alabama.
PURPOSE The purpose of said Public Hearing will be to consider the adoption of an ordinance to amend Ordinance Number 124-91 (entitled “Zoning Ordinance of the City of Opelika”) adopted on September 17, 1991. At said Public Hearing all who desire to be heard shall have the opportunity to speak for or in opposition to the adoption of the following ordinance:
ORDINANCE NO. __
AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE TEXT OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF OPELIKA AND SPECIFICALLY TO AMEND SECTIONS 9.5(15), 9.5(18), 9.5(19), 9.10(7), 9.10(9), 9.12(2), 9.12(3) AND SCHEDULE A THEREOF BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council (the “City Council”) of the City of Opelika, Alabama (the “City”) as follows:
Section 1. Amendments. That Ordinance 124-91 entitled “Zoning Ordinance of the City of Opelika, Alabama”, adopted on September 17, 1991, as amended, is further amended in the following respects:
(a) That Section 9.5(15), FLAGPOLES AND FLAGS, FLAG BRACKETS, FLAG STANCHIONS AND FLAGS, is amended to read as follows:
(15) Flagpoles and Flags; Flag Brackets, Flag Stanchions and Flags.
a. Flagpoles and Flags. For each parcel and development site in residential use with one principal structure, one flagpole may be installed and two (2) flags may be displayed per flagpole. A flag in a residential Zoning District displayed on a flagpole shall not exceed forty (40) square feet in size. For each parcel and development site that is over one-half (1/2) acre in size and is in nonresidential use, up to three flagpoles may be installed and up to two (2) flags may be displayed per flagpole. A flag in a non-residential Zoning District displayed on a flagpole shall not exceed one hundred fifty (150) square feet in size.
b. Flag Brackets, Flag Stanchions, and Flags. For each principal structure on a parcel, up to two flag brackets or stanchions may be attached or placed for the display of flags. A flag displayed from a flag bracket or a flag stanchion shall not exceed twenty-four (24) square feet in size.
c. For the purpose of determining the size of a flag, only one side of the flag shall be counted as the display surface.
d. Flags on parcels in non-residential use may be externally illuminated.
e. The United States flag/American flag may be illuminated. The lighting should be directed away from roadways, traffic areas and adjacent residential properties.
f. In-ground American flagpole requirements are the following:
Maximum height (feet) Maximum size (square feet)
60’-65’ 135’
50-59 96
40-49 72
30-39 50
20-29 30
Under 20 15
(b) That Section 9.5(18), FREESTANDING SIGNS, is amended to read as follows: (18) Freestanding Signs. A freestanding sign may be a pole sign or a monument sign, unless otherwise restricted and where allowed, and subject to the following:
a. General Requirements. In the C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1, M-2, I-1 and GC Zoning Districts, pole signs and monument signs may display two or more sign subject to the additional provisions set forth below for single-lot general businesses and for group developments. In the event that a reader board (manual or digital reader board) is attached to a freestanding sign, the reader board sign surface shall be no larger than fifty percent (50%) of the principal sign surface area. The principal sign surface area includes all signage on the freestanding sign except the reader board.
b. Single-Lot General Businesses. The maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed one hundred (100) square feet. The maximum height of a freestanding sign shall be twenty (20) feet. Only one (1) freestanding sign is allowed per single-frontage lot; and up to two (2) freestanding signs are allowed for a corner lot or for double-frontage lots. No lot shall have more than two freestanding signs.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, freestanding signs are not allowed in the C-1 Zoning District for single-lot general businesses.
c. Group Developments.
(1) Only one (1) freestanding sign is allowed for each street frontage of a group development.
(2) A freestanding sign for a single tenant of a group development is prohibited.
(3) Group Development size and height standards
(a) Group Developments with an aggregate gross building area not to exceed 29,999 square feet, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed one hundred twenty (120) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed twenty (20) feet.
(b) Group Developments with an aggregate of 30,000 to 64,999 square feet of building area, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed two hundred (200) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed twenty (20) feet.
(c) Group Developments with an aggregate of 65,000 to 99,999 square feet of building area, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed three hundred (300) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed thirty (30) feet.
(d) Group Developments with an aggregate of 100,000 to 499,999 square feet of building area, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed five hundred (500) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed thirty-five (35) feet.
(e) Group Developments with an aggregate of 500,000 to 999,999 square feet of building area, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed seven hundred fifty (750) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed thirty-five (35) feet.
(f) Group Developments with an aggregate over 1 million square feet of building area, the maximum area of a freestanding sign shall not exceed one thousand (1,000) square feet, and the maximum height of a freestanding sign shall not exceed forty-five (45) feet.
d. Interstate Signs. In addition to the allowable freestanding signage for any nonresidential development site, an interstate sign may also be erected provided that;

  1. Any portion of the development site over five (5) acres lies within an area of 1,000 feet from the center point of the centerline of the interstate overpass. One (1) interstate sign with a maximum area of either 250 square feet and a maximum height of 60 feet may be erected; or
  2. Any portion of the development site over five (5) acres lies within an area of one (1) mile, (5,280 feet) from the center point of the centerline of the interstate overpass and whose development site abuts the right-of-way of the interstate. One (1) sign with a maximum area of 130 square feet and a maximum height of 30 feet may be erected. Such signs must be located only along the property edge abutting the interstate right-of-way and must be positioned as to be read from the interstate. The maximum setback from the interstate right-of-way shall not exceed 20 feet.
  3. A group development that lies within either of the geographic areas described in 18.d.1 or 2 shall be allowed a group development sign meeting the height of 18.d.1 or 2 with the allowable area afforded to the applicable group development in 18.c.3. In such case that a group development interstate sign is permitted, a freestanding interstate sign for an individual tenant of the group development is prohibited.
    e. Subdivision Identification Marker – A freestanding sign marking an entrance from a perimeter road to a residential subdivision, commercial development, or industrial park. Subdivision markers may be a single sign or a pair of signs. A subdivision marker shall contain no advertising other than the name of the residential subdivision, commercial development, or industrial park. No subdivision marker shall be located within the public right of way and must be within the perimeter of the subdivision. The sign shall be a ground-mounted or monument sign installed at the entrance of a perimeter road to a subdivision/development; maximum sign area shall be 100 square feet and maximum height 6 feet including architectural features.
    (c) That Section 9.5(19), WALL SIGNS, is amended to read as follows: (19) Wall Signs.
    a. Wall signs shall not extend above the top of a building wall.
    b. Wall signs may be installed on one or more exterior walls. The total square footage of all wall signs installed must not exceed the maximum total display area allowed.
    c. The maximum total display area for wall signs in the R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-4M, R-5, R-5M, and PRD Zoning Districts shall be four (4) square feet. Only one wall sign is allowed per residence.
    d. The maximum total display area for wall signs in the AP, and FP, Zoning Districts shall be twelve (12) square feet. Only one (1) wall sign is allowed per building.
    e. The maximum total display area for wall signs in the C-1, C-2, C-3, M-l, M-2, I-I, R/E, GC, and HOD Zoning Districts are as follows:
    (i). On any single lot with 30,000 square feet or less of floor area, the maximum total display area for wall signs shall be the lesser of (a) the display area calculated at one and six-tenths (1.6) square feet of sign area for each lineal foot of exterior wall business frontage, or (b) 200 square feet. The exterior wall business frontage shall be the front exterior wall facing the public right-of-way of a street.
    (ii). On any single lot with more than 30,000 square feet of floor area, the maximum total display area for wall signs shall be the lesser of (a) the display area calculated at one and six-tenths (1.6) square feet of sign area for each lineal foot of exterior wall business frontage, or (b) 320 square feet. The exterior tenant wall business frontage shall be the front exterior wall facing the public right-of-way of a street.
    (iii). For a Group Development, the maximum total display area for each tenant for an exterior wall sign on the exterior wall business frontage shall be the
    lesser of (a) the display area calculated at one and six-tenths (1.6) square feet of sign area for each lineal foot of exterior wall business frontage, or (b) 100 200
    square feet. The exterior business wall frontage for each tenant space within a Group Development shall be the front exterior wall facing the public right-of-way of a street.
    For a Group Development with more than 30,000 square feet of floor area, the maximum total display area for wall signs shall be the lesser of (a) the display area calculated at one and six-tenths (1.6) square feet of sign area for each lineal foot of exterior wall business frontage, or (b) 320 square feet. The exterior tenant wall business frontage shall be the front exterior wall facing the public right-of-way of a street.
    f. Up to fifty percent (50%) of the wall sign surface may consist of a changeable copy sign; provided, however, that the sign copy of the changeable copy sign shall not change more than once in any twenty-four (24) hour time period. The wall sign shall not project more than twelve (12) inches from the wall. If the wall sign projects more than two and one-half (2½) inches from the wall, the wall sign shall be mounted so that the bottom of the wall sign is at least nine (9) feet above ground at finished grade below the wall sign. The wall sign may be illuminated.
    (d) That subsections (e), (i) and (q) of Section 9.10(7), SIGN PERMIT APPLICATION, are amended to read as follows:
    (7) Sign permit applications
    e. An address or legal description of the property upon which the sign is to be located. The legal address may be located on a certified boundary survey.
    i. For all wall mounted signs, the facade elevation with dimensions, drawn to scale. Windows and doors and other openings shall be delineated.
    q. Signature of Property Owner or complete an “Authorization to Act As Applicant for Property Owner” form.
    (e) That Section 9.10(9) DESIGN REQUIREMENTS is amended to read as follows:
    (9) Design Requirements
    a. Tenant panels in monument signs. All tenant panels in a monument sign, including those added to an existing sign structure, shall be constructed of similar materials and illuminated by a similar method.
    b. Wall signs. Wall signs shall not be installed to cover windows, doors, or other types of fenestration.
    (f) That Section 9.12(2), BRIGHTNESS LEVEL, is amended to read as follows:
    (2) Luminance/Brightness Level. Self-luminous outdoor signs shall not operate at brightness levels more than 0.3 foot candles above ambient lighting conditions
    when measured using a foot-candle (Lux) meter. The sign’s brightness level is measured at a certain distance based on the sign area. The distance to measure the sign’s foot- candles is calculated using the following formula: Measurement Distance =√Area of Sign X 100, rounded to the nearest whole number. (Research and Information about measuring brightness levels can be obtained from research by the International Sign Association, August 2016.) The signs shall be equipped with manual diming or scheduled dimming controls, or photocell/light sensors that automatically dims the brightness of the sign as ambient conditions change. Prior to issuance of a sign permit, the applicant shall provide a written certification from the sign company or sign manufacturer that brightness levels will not exceed 0.3 foot candles above ambient lighting conditions.
    (g) That Schedule A to Section 9.12(3) is amended to read as follows: SCHEDULE A
    Pursuant to Section 9.12(3), entitled “Reduction of Non-Digital Billboards through Conversion to, or Replacement by, Digital Billboards,” it is recognized that the City has a goal to reduce in the number of billboards in the City. In addition to ordinary attrition and in addition to the destruction of billboards through Acts of God, lawful nonconforming non-digital billboards that currently exist within the City may be removed by other means. Specifically, such nonconforming non-digital billboards may be converted to nonconforming digital billboards based upon the trade ratio, the sunset provision, and the other conditions as set forth in this Schedule A.
    Except as specifically set forth in this Schedule A, no vested rights shall accrue to any person or entity.
    This Schedule A provides two alternatives for minimum trades of existing billboards or legal non-conforming off-site commercial signs constructed prior to the adoption of this ordinance. Each new digital sign face shall require one of the following alternatives as a pre-condition for the vested right to place one and no more than one (1) digital billboard sign face into operation.
    a) Standard billboards – a minimum trade ratio of 4:1, namely at least four (4) qualifying nonconforming non-digital billboard sign faces (each qualifying sign face must equal or exceed two hundred twenty-five square feet (225 sq. ft.)
    b) Small billboards – billboards or off-premise commercial signs shall be allowed to trade signs smaller than 225 square feet if the total of all sign faces exceeds 900 square feet.
    1) The replacement digital billboard structure shall have no more than two (2) digital faces, with any one digital sign face not exceeding three hundred square feet (300 sq. ft.).
    2) The surrounding cabinet or border shall not exceed six inches in width.
    3) Each sign face, up to a maximum of two sign faces per billboard structure, qualifies as an existing sign face so that the removal of an existing billboard structure with two (2) or more sign faces qualifies as the removal of two existing sign faces.
    4) All sign faces shall be removed from an existing billboard structure and the structure and visible foundation demolished and removed in order for each removed sign face to qualify as an eliminated sign.
    5) Each digital changeable face qualifies as a replacement sign face under this schedule. However, each advertising face within a digital changeable face shall not count as an additional replacement sign face.
    6) Notwithstanding the foregoing, if an eliminated sign structure has more than two (2) sign faces, only two sign faces count as a qualifying replacement sign face. Each replacement billboard sign structure shall be located at the site of an eliminated sign which was demolished and removed. In other words, all replacement sign structures are restricted to the locations of qualifying signs eliminated under this Schedule A.
    7) Replacement signs shall not be relocated to new sites or locations.
    8) All replacement signs shall meet all requirements and regulations of the City of Opelika and all applicable laws and regulations of the State of Alabama.
    Absent compliance with the foregoing, no building permit shall issue. If any building permit is issued without complying with the foregoing, then the building permit is void ab initio.
    This Schedule A provides for a sunset period of twenty-five (25) years for any new digital billboard structure (inclusive of any new digital sign faces), meaning that any new digital billboard structure and any new digital billboard faces that are so placed must be physically removed in their entirety immediately upon the passage of twenty-five (25) years following their placement into operation or following the erection of the new billboard structure, whichever comes first.
    Any nonconforming non-digital billboard structure that is voluntarily removed as a result of the loss or termination of lease, or that is substantially destroyed by an Act of God, shall not be eligible to be counted as a “qualifying non-digital billboard structure.” Any new digital billboard structure, inclusive of its digital billboard face(s), shall
    be and remain nonconforming under the City’s Zoning Ordinance during the twenty-five (25) year sunset. In the event that any such structure is destroyed by an Act of God or is removed due to a loss or termination of lease before the conclusion of the twenty-five year period, then the structure may not be rebuilt or re-established elsewhere; and, in any such event, the sunset period shall be deemed at an end even though twenty-five year period has not fully elapsed, and any and all vested rights that then existed shall be fully and completely extinguished.
    Any new digital billboard structure and its digital billboard faces(s) that may be
    erected or placed in operation pursuant to this Schedule A shall be subjected to the following conditions as to placement [and operation]:
  4. Digitally converted billboards (replacement billboards) shall be a minimum of two thousand five hundred (2,500) feet apart from any other digital billboard on the same road facing in the same direction of travel.
  5. The new digital billboard structure shall be no higher than thirty (30) feet to the top of the sign structure or sign face from the ground level at the foot of the sign structure.
  6. The new digital billboard structure shall only be located on one of the following roads, highways, or locations: I-85 or within one hundred (100) feet of I-85 and the Gateway Overlay Corridor Zoning District. However, no replacement billboard shall be located in the C-1 Zoning District or within the boundaries of any historic preservation district.
  7. The new digital sign faces shall not exceed three hundred square feet (300 sf.).
  8. The messages on any digital sign face shall not change more frequently than once every ten (10) seconds.
  9. Any digital sign shall abide by the brightness and luminance standards as are established from time to time for all digital signs that utilize lighting to display messages.
  10. No digitally converted billboard (replacement billboards) shall be placed within any street right-of-way and no closer to the street right-of-way than the existing billboard.
  11. Electrical wiring shall run underground from the power source to serve the digitally converted billboard.
  12. The City, through appropriate personnel, may exercise its police powers to protect public health, safety and welfare by requiring emergency information to be displayed on digitally converted billboards. Emergency information includes, but is not limited to AMBER alerts, dangerous criminal alerts, fugitives from justice alerts, weather alerts and emergency management information. Upon notification, and at no cost to the City, the sign operator shall exclusively display the emergency alert for the period of one (1) hour. Thereafter, emergency alerts are to remain in rotation according to the designated issuing agencies protocols.
  13. As part of the digital permitting process, the owner of a static billboard sign must identify in its application the following:
    (a) The location of the static billboard face to be replaced
    (b) The size of the static face to be replaced
    (c) The size of the digital billboard face being installed
    (d) The location of four (4) the other billboard faces being removed
    Section 2. Repeal of Conflicting Ordinances. Any ordinance or parts thereof in conflict with provisions of this Ordinance be and the same are hereby repealed.
    Section 3. Effective Date. This Ordinance shall become effective upon its adoption, approval and publication as required by law.
    Section 4. Publication. The City Clerk is directed to publish a synopsis of this Ordinance in a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Opelika, Lee County, Alabama pursuant to Section 11-45-8(b)(2), Code of Alabama, (1975) as amended.
    ADOPTED AND APPROVED this the day of _______, 2020
    PRESIDENT OF THE CITY
    COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF OPELIKA, ALABAMA
    ATTEST: CITY CLERK
    TRANSMITTED TO MAYOR on this the day of _______, 2020.
    CITY CLERK
    ACTION BY MAYOR
    APPROVED this the day of _____, 2020.
    MAYOR
    ATTEST: CITY CLERK
    END
    All interested persons are invited to attend the Public Hearing and be heard. Written comments concerning the above matter may be mailed to the City Clerk at City Hall, P.O. Box 390, Opelika, AL 36803 at any time prior to the Public Hearing and may be further submitted to the City Council at the meeting and Public Hearing. The City Council reserves the right to modify or alter any of the proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and to make amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.
    Please contact Kevin Rice, the City’s ADA Coordinator, at 334-705-2083 at least two (2) working days prior to the meeting if you require special accommodations due to a disability.
    WITNESS my hand this the 11th day of December, 2019.
    /s/ R. G. Shuman
    CITY CLERK OF THE CITY OF OPELIKA, ALABAMA
    Legal Run 12/011/2019

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