Chapter 7: Local Control of Signs

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Section 1: Local Control

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Overview

A political subdivision may elect to control signs erected along highways within the geographical jurisdiction of that political subdivision in lieu of control by the State. The political subdivision will be listed as a certified city and a permit issued by that political subdivision is acceptable instead of a permit issued by the department within the approved area. The certified city will enforce the established standards and criteria for size, lighting and spacing of outdoor advertising signs according to the Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 391. "Geographical jurisdiction" means within the corporate limits of a municipality. This certification shall not apply within the ETJ of a political subdivision. If a municipality ceases to control the outdoor advertising signs, then the control must be exercised by the State.

The exception to the above is that if a sign is to be erected within the jurisdiction of a municipality with a population of more than 1.9 million that is exercising its authority to regulate outdoor advertising, a certified copy of the permit issued by the municipality is required.

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Division Responsibility

The ROW Division is responsible for keeping in contact with all certified cities within the State and should keep them informed of the current Outdoor Advertising License list and should encourage their participation in the regulation of signs, including the issuance of permits. TxDOT is obligated to determine that each certified city, which has elected to control outdoor advertising signs, is actually controlling the signs.

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Minimum Controls

Each certified city shall provide at least the following minimum controls:

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  • A zoning ordinance or other regulation establishing standards and criteria for size, lighting and spacing consistent with the requirements of the Federal Highway Beautification Act, and local customary use.
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  • Ensure that only authorized signs are erected and maintained. A permit system is required. Permit tags are not required. Any permit fees collected by a city or town may be retained by that city or town.
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  • A procedure to verify that no sign is erected along a controlled highway until the sign owner has obtained an "Outdoor Advertising License" from TxDOT .
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  • As previously stated, if a sign is to be erected within the jurisdiction of a municipality with a population of more than 1.9 million that is exercising its authority to regulate outdoor advertising, a certified copy of the permit issued by the municipality is required.
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Municipal Criteria

The criteria for size, lighting and spacing established by a certified city having comprehensive zoning must be at least as restrictive as the criteria contained in the Agreement with the Secretary of Transportation (Federal-State Agreement), provided such control is consistent with the purposes of the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and with local customary use.

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Observation and Documentation

Where a town or city has elected to become a certified city and control outdoor advertising signs within its city limits, the following information shall be submitted to the ROW Division to assure that effective controls are being maintained:

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  • a copy of its sign regulations;
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  • a copy of its zoning regulations;
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  • information about the number of personnel who will be dedicated to the program and what type of records will be maintained, including whether the political subdivision maintains an inventory of signs that can be provided to the department in an electronic format that is acceptable to the department; and
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  • an enforcement plan that includes the removal of illegal signs.

Copies of any amendment to its sign and zoning ordinances shall be provided to the ROW Division when the amendments are proposed and adopted.

A copy of any changes to its corporate limits must be provided to the ROW Division.

Certified cities should participate in at least one video conference or teleconference sponsored by the department each year.

Certified cities should be advised of the licensing and enforcement provisions of the Highway Beautification law and made aware of the State's responsibility for periodic review of their control and procedures. Certified cities without adequate means of control should be encouraged to adopt adequate controls. An annual inventory of all permitted signs should be made by the Certified city and furnished to TxDOT .

Records shall be maintained by the ROW Division on the status of control being taken by each certified city within the State. The ROW Division should conduct an annual review of each certified city.

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Decertification

The department may decertify a municipality if it does not have an effective sign control program. The department may consider whether:

The political subdivision maintains an accurate sign inventory and requires the removal of illegal signs, and;

The local sign ordinance contains standards and criteria for signs in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and TxDOT Commission rules.

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Reinstatement

TxDOT may elect to reinstate a municipality when it shows a new plan that complies with the requirements of the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and TxDOT Commission rules.

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