section .0200 – outdoor advertising
19A NCAC 02E .0201 DEFINITIONS FOR OUTDOOR ADVERTISING
In addition to the definitions set forth in G.S. 136-128,
the following definitions shall apply for purposes of outdoor advertising
(1) Abandoned Sign: A sign that is not being
maintained as required by the rules in this Section. The absence of a valid
lease is one indication of an abandoned sign. An outdoor advertising sign
structure shall be considered to be abandoned if for a period of 12 months the
sign has been without a message, contains obsolete advertising matter, or is
significantly damaged or dilapidated.
(2) Automatic Changeable Facing Sign: A sign, display,
or device which changes the message or copy on the sign facing electronically by
movement or rotation of panels or slats.
(3) Blank Sign: A sign structure on which all faces
contain no message, or which contains only a telephone number advertising its
(4) Comprehensive Zoning: Zoning by local zoning
authorities of each parcel of land under the jurisdiction of the local zoning
authority placed in a zoning classification pursuant to a comprehensive plan,
or reserved for future classification.
(a) A comprehensive plan means a development
plan which guides decisions by the local zoning authority relating to zoning
and the growth and development of the area.
(b) Even if comprehensively enacted, the
following criteria shall determine whether such zoning is enacted primarily to
permit outdoor advertising:
(i) The zoning classification provides for
limited commercial or industrial activity only incidental to other primary land
(ii) The commercial or industrial activities are
permitted only by variance or special exceptions; or
(iii) The zoning constitutes spot or strip zoning.
"Spot zoning" or "strip zoning" is zoning designed
primarily for the purpose of permitting outdoor advertising signs in an area
which would not normally permit outdoor advertising.
(5) Conforming Sign: A sign legally erected in a zoned
or unzoned commercial or industrial area which meets all current legal
requirements for erecting a new sign at that site.
(6) Controlled Access Highway: A highway on which
entrance and exit accesses are permitted only at designated points.
(7) Controlled Route: Any interstate or federal-aid
primary highway as it existed on June 1, 1991, and any highway which is or
becomes a part of the National Highway System (NHS).
(8) Destroyed Sign: A sign no longer in existence due
to factors other than vandalism or other criminal or tortious acts. An example
of a destroyed sign includes a sign which has been blown down by the wind and
sustains damage in excess of 50 percent as determined by the criteria in 19A
NCAC 02E .0225(f).
(9) Dilapidated Sign: A sign which is shabby, neglected,
or in disrepair, or which fails to be in the same form as originally
constructed, or which fails to perform its intended function of conveying a
message. Characteristics of a dilapidated sign include, but are not limited to,
structural support failure, a sign not supported as originally constructed,
panels or borders missing or falling off, intended messages cannot be
interpreted by the motoring public, or a sign which is blocked by overgrown
vegetation outside the highway right of way.
(10) Directional Sign: A sign which contains directional
information about public places owned or operated by federal, state, or local
governments or their agencies; publicly or privately owned natural phenomena,
historic, cultural, scientific, educational, and religious sites; and areas of
natural scenic beauty or naturally suited for outdoor recreation, deemed to be
in the interest of the traveling public. Directional and other official signs
and notices include, but are not limited to, public utility signs, service club
and religious notices, or public service signs.
(a) Public Service Sign: A sign located on a
school bus stop shelter which meets all the following requirements:
(i) identifies the donor, sponsor or
contributor of said shelter;
(ii) is located on a school bus shelter which is
authorized or approved by city, county, or state law, regulation, or ordinance,
and at places approved by the city, county, or state agency controlling the
(iii) contains only safety slogans or messages
which shall occupy not less than 60 percent of the area of the sign;
(iv) does not exceed 32 square feet in area; and
(v) contains not more than one sign facing in
any one direction.
(b) Public Utility Sign: A warning sign,
informational sign, notice or other marker customarily erected and maintained
by publicly or privately owned utilities, which are essential to their
(c) Service Club and Religious Notices: Any
sign or notice authorized by law which relates to meetings of nonprofit service
clubs, charitable associations, or religious services. These signs shall not
exceed eight square feet in area.
(11) Discontinued Sign: A sign no longer in existence.
A discontinued sign includes a sign of which any part of a sign face is missing
more than 180 days. In some cases, a sign may be both discontinued and
(12) Freeway: A divided arterial highway for through
traffic with full control of access.
(13) Highway: A highway that is designated as a part of
the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system as of June 1, 1991, or any
highway which is or becomes a part of the National Highway System. A highway
shall be a part of the National Highway System on the date the location of the
highway has been approved finally by the appropriate federal authorities.
(14) Lease: An agreement, in writing, by which
possession or use of land or interests therein is given for a specified purpose
and period of time, and which is a valid contract under North Carolina laws.
(15) Main Traveled Way or Traveled Way: Part of a
highway on which through traffic is carried, exclusive of paved shoulders. In
the case of a divided highway, the traveled way of each of the separated
roadways for traffic in opposite directions is a traveled way. It does not
include frontage roads, turning roadways, or parking areas.
(16) Nonconforming Sign: A sign which was lawfully
erected but which does not comply with the provisions of State law or rules
passed at a later date or which later fails to comply with State law or rules
due to changed conditions. For purposes of the outdoor advertising rules,
nonconforming signs also include those signs which have become nonconforming
pursuant to 19A NCAC 02E .1002(d) on scenic byways which were part of the
interstate or federal-aid primary highway system as of June 1, 1991, or which
are or become a part of the National Highway System.
(17) Official Sign/Notice: A sign or notice erected and
maintained by public officers or public agencies within their territorial or
zoning jurisdictions and pursuant to and in accordance with federal, state, or
local law for the purpose of carrying out an official duty or responsibility.
Official signs and notices include, but are not limited to, historical markers
authorized by state law and erected by state or local government agencies or
nonprofit historical societies.
(18) On-premise/On-property Sign: A sign which
advertises the sale or lease of property upon which it is located or which
advertises an activity conducted or product for sale on the property upon which
it is located. An on-premise sign may not be converted to a permitted outdoor
advertising sign unless it meets all rules in effect at the time of the
conversion request. An on-premise sign must be located on property contiguous
to the property on which the activity is located. Tracts not considered to be
contiguous include, but are not limited to:
(a) Tracts of land separated by a federal,
state, city, or public access maintained road;
(b) Tracts of land not under common ownership;
(c) Tracts of land held in different estates or
(19) Parkland: Any publicly owned land which is
designated or used as a public park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl
refuge or historic site.
(20) Permit Holder: A permit holder shall be the sign
owner, and for purposes of the rules in this Section the terms and definitions
shall be interchangeable, unless the Department of Transportation, through the
appropriate district office, has been notified in writing that the permit
holder is a person or entity other than the actual owner of the sign. In this
case, the actual sign owner’s name, mailing address, and telephone number must
(21) Salvageable Sign Components: Components of the
original sign structure prior to the damage that can be repaired or replaced on
site by the use of labor only. If any materials, other than nuts, bolts, nails
or similar hardware, are required in order to repair a component, the component
is not considered to be salvageable.
(22) Scenic Area: Any area of particular beauty or
historical significance as determined by the federal, state, or local official
having jurisdiction thereof, and includes interests in land which have been
acquired for the restoration, preservation and enhancement of beauty.
(23) Scenic Byway: A scenic highway or scenic byway
designated by the Board of Transportation, regardless of whether the route so
designated was part of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system as
of June 1, 1991, or any highway which is or becomes a part of the National
(24) Sign: Any outdoor sign, sign structure, display,
light, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard,
or other object which is designed, intended, or used to advertise or inform. A
sign includes any of the parts or material of the structure, such as beams,
poles, posts, and stringers, the only eventual purpose of which is to
ultimately display a message or other information for public view. For
purposes of these rules, the term "sign" and its definition shall be
interchangeable with the following terms: outdoor advertising, outdoor
advertising sign, outdoor advertising structure, outdoor advertising sign
structure, sign structure, and structure.
(25) Sign Conforming by Virtue of the "Grandfather
Clause:" A sign legally erected prior to the effective date of the
Outdoor Advertising Control Act or prior to the addition of a route to the
interstate or federal-aid primary system or NHS in a zoned or unzoned
commercial or industrial area which does not meet all current standards for
erecting a new sign at that site.
(26) Sign Face: The part of the sign, including trim and
background, which contains the message or informative contents. For purposes
of measuring the maximum area or height of a sign, embellishments or extended
advertising shall be excluded.
(27) Sign Location/Site: A sign location or site for
purposes of these rules shall be measured to the closest 1/100th of a mile, in
conformance with Department of Transportation methods of measurement for all
state roads. The location or site shall be determined and listed on each
outdoor advertising permit application by DOT personnel.
(28) Sign Owner: A sign owner shall be the permit holder
of record, and for purposes of the rules in this Section the terms and
definitions shall be interchangeable, unless the Department of Transportation,
through the appropriate district office, has been notified in writing that the
sign owner is a person or entity other than the actual holder of the permit.
In this case, the actual sign owner's name, mailing address, and telephone
number must be declared.
(29) Significantly Damaged Sign: A sign which has been
damaged or partially destroyed due to factors other than vandalism or other
criminal or tortious acts to such extent that the damage to the sign is greater
than fifty percent as determined by the criteria in 19A NCAC 02E .0225(f).
(30) Unzoned Commercial or Industrial Area: An area
which is not zoned by state or local law, regulation, or ordinance, and which
is within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right of way of the interstate or
federal-aid primary system or NHS, in which there is at least one commercial or
industrial activity that meets all requirements specified in 19A NCAC 02E
(31) Zoned Commercial or Industrial Area: An area which
is zoned for business, industry, commerce, or trade pursuant to a state or
local zoning ordinance or regulation. Local zoning action must be taken
pursuant to the state's zoning enabling statute or constitutional authority in
accordance therewith. Zoning which is not part of comprehensive zoning or
which is created primarily to permit outdoor advertising structures shall not
be recognized as valid zoning for purposes of the Outdoor Advertising Control
Act and the rules promulgated thereunder, unless the land is developed for
commercial or industrial activity as defined under 19A NCAC 02E .0203(5).
History Note: Authority G.S. 136‑130;
Eff. July 1, 1978;
Amended Eff. August 1, 2000; December 1, 1993; March 1,
1993; December 1, 1990; January 1, 1984.