Who’s Minding The Store?

Posted by – Darren Darge, Code Enforcement Officer

New state-of-the-art LED sign technology is coming down in cost, so it’s becoming a great option for many businesses, churches, and schools to provide current messages to the public that have the ability to change often.  Sometimes a little too often.

The City Council adopted a law to allow these electronic changeable copy signs back in 2004.  It has been amended a few times, most recently on November 10, 2014.  One of the big changes that occurred recently is that message copy shall appear in intervals of no less than 15 seconds. The old standard was a message hold time of 90 seconds.  This law applies to signs along roads within the City.  A different hold time of eight seconds is allowed on digital billboards along I-75 due to the high speed of the vehicles and based on national traffic safety standards.

Example of a LED sign in compliance with the law
Example of a LED sign in compliance with the law

The Council decided to lower the hold time along our roadways after a detailed analysis of standards used by other Michigan municipalities, input from businesses and sign experts, and recommendations from national traffic impact studies.

When City leaders pass zoning laws like this one it’s the role of the Community Development Department and Code Enforcement to confirm that people comply with them.  These signs are controlled by computer by the sign owner.  It’s easy to lower the hold time from 15 seconds, especially if you’re not aware of the City’s standards.

As a courtesy, we sent out letters after the law was amended to the owners of the 15 LED signs that operate in Auburn Hills.  We informed them of the new law and that the signs must maintain a 15 second hold time.

An inspection was recently performed by Code Enforcement and we found that only nine of the 15 signs were in compliance.  So, it’s our role to seek voluntary compliance.  Today, we are well on our away to achieving it.

When laws are passed by our elected officials someone has to make sure these community standards and values are honored.  In the case of these signs, someone is watching.  That’s our role and we work hard to serve the City in a fair and even-handed way.  It’s our job to “mind the store.”