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Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Business owners often use signs as their primary source of advertising and as a way to direct customers to their location. But gone are the days when a business owner can simply place a sign on a storefront. Today, that owner faces complex signage regulations and permit fees.Jeff Cahill, owner of Quality Signs & Designs, has been doing business in the Colorado Springs area for more than 30 years. He spoke to the Falcon Business League in March, urging business owners to encourage county commissioners to develop a sensible sign code.Under current regulations, more than 90 percent of the temporary signs in the county are illegal, Cahill said. ìIf anyone is interested in forming a committee to help combat and overturn existing and proposed regulations, I would be willing to share the strategies and techniques that were successfully used in the city over 30 years ago to develop a sensible sign code,î he said.Terry Rorick, code enforcement officer for El Paso County Development Services, said the current sign code can be confusing. “There are different codes for business based on zoning,î Rorick said. ìThe regulations differ for commercial, industrial or residential zones.îHe explained the steps business owners must follow to put up signs. They must first apply with a sign plan on hand. The plan should be designed along with any building plans, Rorick said. Business owners must consider the number of signs needed, the location of the sign, its size and whether it is free standing or fixed to a structure.The permit fee for the first sign is $195, with an additional surcharge of $37.50. Each additional sign costs $125.Some signs are illegal because of safety issues, he said. All portable signs such as sandwich board signs and signs that are not attached to a structure or embedded in the ground are prohibited because they may become airborne during high winds, which can present a traffic hazard.No signs are allowed in the highway right-of-way, which is a rule that is often violated during political campaigns, Rorick said.Banner signs must be less than 16 square feet. Business owners can use banners to advertise a special event like a grand opening only once a year for a two-week period.Real estate signs are allowed only on the property that is actually for sale, he said.According to the land-use zone code, no billboards are allowed except for those constructed before Oct. 1, 1975.Other prohibited signs include those placed on unregistered vehicles, such as truck trailers. But Rorick said the large signs used by home builders in the Falcon area are allowed if they are located on the same property as the subdivision. “Other truck trailer signs are illegal unless the developer has applied for a special use permit,” he said.Rorick said he is aware many signs placed throughout the county are not up to code. “That’s because there’s not enough revenue to enforce the regulations,î he said.However, Cahill said the county needs a simplified sign code that works hand-in-hand with Pikes Peak Regional Building regulations. Some of the problems occur because the county issues the sign permits but the regional building department approves the structure for the sign. After the signs are made and paid for, business owners often discover the structure for the sign does not meet the regional building rules.ìI don’t think the majority of county workers have been in business, so they are unaware of the problems they are causing for business owners,î Cahill said. He said the county needs to work more closely with the business owners.ìIf the county kills businesses, they will have no jobs to generate revenue.î

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