Regulation of LED signs discussed

Existing code does not address new sign technology

Feb. 5, 2013

Franklin - The Architectural Review Board is poised to consider how LED signs should be regulated within the city.

The board discussed concerns related to the signs Jan. 24, particularly those capable of displaying high-quality moving images.

Member Ted Juerisson brought the issue to the board, noting that the brightness of the signs, such as the one located at the car wash on Rawson Avenue, can be overwhelming, especially at night.

"I want to discuss whether we want to regulate these or just let them come in and make conditions as they come in," Juerisson said.

Board member Louis Jost agreed that the lighting of LED signs can be an issue, and should be adjusted by businesses based on the level of brightness needed at a particular time of day.

Building Inspector Fred Baumgart said that the signs also can pose a distraction to drivers if the displayed images or messages change too frequently.

Baumgart said the city's existing sign code does not address LED signs. Staff is in the process of updating the code, much of which is out dated, he added.

"To tell you that it addresses any of the new technology … no," Baumgart told the board.

Currently there is only a handful of the type of LED signs the board is concerned with throughout the city, Baumgart said, although there are many LED signs that display only text.

"People with a message to display generally go with the LED signs that display text," Baumgart said, as those are much less expensive than signs capable of displaying TV-quality images.

As far as other communities' restrictions on those LED signs are concerned, "It's all over the place," Baumgart said. "A lot of communities just don't allow them. The city hasn't developed a stance one way or the other."

The board voted to table the matter until its first meeting in February, at which time it will consider LED sign regulations that other communities have used and draft recommended language on regulations for Franklin. Any ordinance changes would need to be approved by the Common Council, Baumgart said.


LED stands for "light emitting diode."

A cluster of red, green and blue diodes - electronic components that allow electricity to pass in only one direction -together forms a full-color pixel.

LED panels are typically used in outdoor signs and as a form of lighting.


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