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The following words, terms, and phrases have the meanings assigned below, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

“Advertising” means any sign text, logo, or other representation that, directly or indirectly, names, advertises, or calls attention to a business, product, service, or other commercial activity.

“Arterial” means a street or road classified as an “arterial” on the Functional Classification Map for the City of Topeka.

“Attached banner” means a banner placed flat and mounted on the exterior wall of a primary building.

“Attached sign” means a sign attached to a building or building component, such as a column or canopy, and that uses the building as its primary support.

“Awning” means a roof-like cover that projects from the wall of a building to shield a doorway, walkway, or window from inclement weather or the sun. Awnings are often made of fabric or flexible material supported by a rigid frame and may be retracted into the face of the building.

“Awning sign” means a sign that is painted, stenciled or attached to the surface of an awning.

“Balloon” means an inflatable device, tethered in a fixed location and greater than 18 inches in any direction, that: (1) has a sign with a message on its surface or attached in any manner to the balloon; or (2) is attached to a building or pole, or in a manner so that it projects higher than the roof of the main building on the lot or parcel.

“Banner” means any strip of cloth, bunting, plastic, paper, or similar material, attached to any structure or framing intended for a temporary period of display. This definition does not include flags, pennants, or streamers.

“Billboard” means any board or panel erected, constructed or maintained for the purpose of displaying outdoor advertising by means of painted letters, posters, pictures and pictorial or reading matter, either illuminated or nonilluminated, when the sign is supported by uprights or braces placed upon the ground.

“Building code” means the International Building Code, as adopted and amended by the City of Topeka.

“Building frontage” means the exterior wall on which the sign is located as viewed by a person approaching the building. For the purpose of measurement the wall used as building frontage need not be on the same wall plane.

“Canopy sign” means a sign attached to the surface of a canopy. A “canopy” means an overhead structure made of solid material, other than an awning, that is either attached to a building wall and extends at least 12 inches from the face of the building or a freestanding overhead structure supported by posts.

“Center sign” means a freestanding sign used and designed to identify a retail, industrial, office, or institutional development or complex or multiple establishments or tenants therein.

“Changeable copy” means characters, letters, numbers, or illustrations that can be manually replaced or altered through the placement of letters or symbols on a panel-mounted or track system.

“Changeable message sign” means a sign on which copy may be changed manually, mechanically or electronically. Billboards, poster panels, junior poster panels and painted boards are not changeable message signs.

“Channel letter” means a fabricated or formed three-dimensional letter.

“Cladding” means a nonstructural covering designed to conceal the actual structural supports of a sign.

“Clearance, vertical” means the minimum vertical distance between a sign and the surface of a street, sidewalk or alley.

“Collector” means a street or road classified as a “collector” on the Functional Classification Map for the City of Topeka.

Commercial Copy. See “Advertising.”

“Copy” means any words, letters, numbers, figures, designs or other symbolic representations incorporated into a sign.

Digital Sign. See “Electronic message center.”

“Electronic message center (EMC)” means a sign that utilizes computer-generated messages or some other electronic means of changing sign copy. EMC signs include displays using incandescent lamps, LEDs or LCDs, and may also enable changes to sign copy, message, or content to be made remotely.

“Facade” means the exterior wall of a building exposed to public view or that wall viewed by persons not within the building.

“Feather sign” means a banner in the shape of a feather, quill, sail, blade, teardrop, or similar shape that is mounted on a solid or flexible pole or cord in the ground.

“Flag” means a piece of fabric or other flexible material, with distinctive colors and patterns, customarily mounted on a pole or similar freestanding structure.

“Flashing sign” means any sign that is internally or externally illuminated by flashing, flowing, alternating, or blinking lights.

Freestanding Banner. A “freestanding banner” is a banner that is mounted in the ground, typically on poles detached from a building or wall.

“Freestanding incidental sign” means a freestanding sign with copy located on a durable panel that is normally incidental or secondary to the allowed use of the property, but can contain any message or content.

“Freestanding sign” means a sign supported by a column, pole, pylon, foundation, pedestal or other structure mounted in the ground.

“Frontage” means the property line that abuts a public street and/or right-of-way line.

“Halo lit sign” means a sign illuminated by concealing the light source behind three-dimensional opaque letters, numbers, or other characters of a sign, resulting in the nighttime perception of a halo around the silhouette of each sign character. This is also referred to as “reverse channel” or “reverse lit” illumination.

Height. For attached signs, “height” refers to the maximum vertical dimensions of the sign. For freestanding signs, “height” refers to the sign’s vertical distance from the top of the highest part of a sign, whether the highest part be the sign copy or support structure on which sign is placed, to the adjoining sidewalk, improved surface, or ground surface within a three-foot horizontal distance of the base of the sign. In the event the surface is sloped the average of the height of the adjoining surface shall be used.

“Highway sign” means a freestanding sign located on a parcel abutting highways I-70, I-470, US-75, or US-24 and located such that it is oriented toward these highways.

“Historic sign” means a sign that is listed or determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, Kansas Register of Historic Places, or as a Topeka landmark, or a sign that contributes to the historic character of a listed property.

“Illumination” means a sign that has an artificial light source incorporated internally or externally to emanate light from, or direct light to, a sign’s surface. Light sources may include exposed tubing, electrical bulbs, fluorescent lights, neon tubes, light-emitting diodes (LED), liquid crystal displays, or other artificial sources of light.

“Illumination, external” means a sign that is illuminated by an external light source.

“Illumination, internal” means illumination created by a light source internal to the sign, transparent or translucent material from a light source within the sign structure or panel.

“Incidental sign” means a sign with copy located on a durable panel and mounted on a wall, pole, frame, or similar structure, with or without a structural frame, that is normally incidental to the allowed use of the property, but can contain any message or content.

LED. Acronym for “light-emitting diode.” A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source that emits light when current flows through it.

“Local street” means a street or road classified as a “local street or road” on the Functional Classification Map for the City of Topeka.

“Main building” means the primary building or structure on a lot or a building or structure that houses a principal use.

“Marquee sign” means a sign on the face of a roof-like projection or shelter, typically over the entrance to an entertainment venue, and typically containing an illuminated flat area for static or changeable sign copy.

“Menu board” means a type of incidental sign oriented to a driveway or drive-through lane, which may include a speaker box or order confirmation unit. A menu board is customarily used to list the menu and prices for a restaurant.

“Monument sign” means a freestanding sign whose sign surface is attached to a base where the width of the widest part of the base or cladding over structural supports is at least 80 percent of the width of the widest part of the sign face.

“Neon” means a source of light supplied by a glass tube that is filled with neon gas, argon, mercury or other inert gas that produces ultraviolet light, and bent to form letters, symbols, or other shapes.

“Noncommercial copy” means any copy other than advertising.

“Nonresidential districts” means any commercial district or industrial district.

“Off-premises sign” means a sign advertising or directing attention to a name, business, product, development, or service which is offered, manufactured, or sold at a location other than the lot or parcel upon which it is situated.

“On-premises sign” means any sign other than an off-premises sign.

“Original art display” means a hand-painted, hand-carved or hand-cast work of visual art expressing creative skill or imagination in a visual form which is intended to beautify or provide an aesthetic influence to a public area. An original art display may be either affixed to or painted directly on the exterior wall of a structure with the permission of the property owner, or a three-dimensional statue that is placed in a park, courtyard, lawn, or similar area for public display. An original art display does not include: mechanically produced or computer-generated prints or images, including but not limited to, digitally printed vinyl; electrical or mechanical components; or changing image art display.

Painted Exterior Wall Sign. A “painted exterior wall sign” identifies a use or on-premises establishment and consists entirely of copy that is painted directly on, or digitally printed vinyl applied to, the exterior material of a building, not including the exterior surface of a window, awnings, or other appurtenances.

“Parcel” means a lot, or contiguous group of lots in single ownership or under single control and usually considered a unit for purposes of development.

“Pennant” means an object or sign of lightweight fabric or similar material, suspended from a rope, wire or string, usually in series, and designed to move in the wind, also including streamers, pinwheels, balloons (less than 18 inches in any direction) and similar small objects.

“Pole” means a vertical support, such as an upright, brace, column, or other vertical member, that supports a sign or cabinet containing a sign and that does not meet the width prescribed for the supporting element of a monument sign.

“Pole or pylon cover” means a nonstructural covering designed to conceal the actual structural supports of a sign.

“Pole or pylon sign” means a freestanding sign supported by a pole or one or more columns providing structural support and where the bottom edge of the sign face is located above the finished grade at the base of the sign.

“Portable message center sign” means a portable sign containing changeable copy.

“Portable pedestrian sign” means a portable sign that is ordinarily in the shape of an “A” with back to back sign faces, an easel, or a similar configuration. A portable sign can contain changeable copy.

“Portable sign” means any sign designed to be moved easily and not permanently affixed to the ground or to a structure or building.

“Principal use” means the main use of land or structures as distinguished from secondary or accessory use.

“Projecting sign” means a sign supported by and extending at least 18 inches from a building wall.

“Reface” means to replace, restore, repaint or repair a sign face that is attached, annexed, or supported from the sign cabinet and/or main structure. It does not include any other rebuilding, reconstructing or reconfiguration of the existing sign cabinet and/or existing supporting structure.

“Roof sign” means a sign that is mounted upon or above a roof or parapet of a building or structure that is wholly or partially supported by the building or structure, and which projects above the cornice or parapet line of a building with a flat roof, the eave line of a building with a gambrel, gable, or hip roof, or the deck line of a building with a mansard roof. A sign mounted on a sloped roof or mansard having a pitch 1:2 or more (one foot horizontal and two feet vertical) is a wall sign. A sign mounted on a sloped roof or mansard having a lesser vertical slope is a roof sign.

“Rotating sign” means any sign surface or sign structure or any portion thereof which rotates, moves, or is animated.

Sandwich Board or A-Frame Sign. See “Portable pedestrian sign.”

“Setback” (in relation to signs) means the distance from a property line to any edge of a sign.

“Sight distance triangle” means an invisible triangle formed by the intersection of two streets or the intersection of a street and driveway as described by TMC 12.20.020.

“Sign” means any outdoor announcement, device, design, figure, trademark or logo used for conveying information, identification, or to advertise or promote any business, product, activity, service or interest placed so as to be seen from outside a building or premises. For clarification, examples of items which typically do not satisfy the necessary elements of this definition include, but are not limited to, original art displays, architectural elements incorporated into the style or function of a building, or inscriptions on decorative rocks.

“Sign face” means the exterior area or surface on which is placed the copy.

“Sign structure” means the support, upright bracing, anchors, braces, and framework for any sign.

“Sign surface” means the entire area within a single continuous rectangular, triangular, or trapezoidal shape which encloses all elements that form the display, including any background which is different from or in contrast with any building wall surface upon which it is mounted.

“Temporary sign” means a sign typically made of lightweight or flimsy material that can be easily or quickly mounted or removed (such as cloth, canvas, vinyl, cardboard, wallboard, or other light temporary materials), with or without a structural frame, intended for a temporary period of display.

“Twirling sign” means a sign that is designed to twirl, spin, or gyrate, either through mechanical activation or wind.

“Unified management” means property or multiple buildings in single ownership or under the supervision of a single corporation, partnership, or other business entity.

Vertical Clearance. See “Clearance, vertical.”

“Wall sign” means a sign (other than projecting sign, roof sign, or window sign) that uses a building wall as its primary source of support, is placed directly on and contained totally within the dimensions of the outside wall, and does not extend more than 18 inches from a building surface.

“Window sign” means a sign posted, painted, placed, or affixed to the inside or outside of a window, and does not extend a measurable distance beyond a building surface, but is clearly visible from outside the building.

“Yard sign” means a temporary sign supported by the ground independent of any other structure.

“Zoning lot” means a parcel of land under single ownership that is of sufficient size to meet minimum zoning requirements for area, coverage, and use, and that can provide such yards and other open spaces. (Ord. 20207 § 2, 9-10-19.)

Cross References:Definitions generally, TMC 1.10.020.