A-frame signs, also known as sandwich boards, are temporary freestanding signs used to draw pedestrian traffic into a shop or restaurant. They are effective in adding visual interest to the sidewalk while helping retail and restaurant establishments.
For more information, please see Section 7.3.12 of the Unified Development Ordinance.
Applications for A-frame Sign Permits are obtained from the Planning and Development Customer Service Center. Each permit application must include the following items:
- A sketch plan or photographs showing proposed sign location and surrounding streetscape details covering 6 feet on either side of the proposed location including property lines, sidewalks, curb lines, lighting, trees indicating tree size, tree grates, planters, parking meters, benches, street signs, bus stops, and fire hydrants.
- Design of the sign - drawing or photographs, dimensions, materials specifications.
- Proof of a valid Insurance Policy that provides a minimum liability of one million dollars. The City of Raleigh must be additionally insured under the policy.
- A written Indemnity Agreement satisfactory to the City Attorney that will hold harmless the City, its officers, councilors, and employees, for any loss or liability or damage, including expenses and costs, for bodily or personal injury, and for property damage sustained by a person as a result of the negligent installation, use, or maintenance of a permitted public space within the City of Raleigh (see Appendix Section 5 for sample Indemnity Agreement).
- Fee payment (see Fee Schedule below).
- Established businesses requesting permits may produce a copy of the active Proof of Insurance.
- Business owners requesting multiple Minor Encroachment Permits for use of public space at one location, for one business, can use one Proof of Insurance to cover all minor encroachment requests as long as the City is additionally insured under the policy.
- Minor Encroachment Permit
- One-time permits are valid as long as the permitted use remains effective. Any time the scope of use, ownership, or location changes, the permit application must be resubmitted.
- The CSC maintains a record of all permits including contact information.
- At the time of submittal of permit applications, applicants are also encouraged to provide contact email address that will be added to a listserv created for permit holders. Downtown Permits Office notifies applicants regarding the status of their permit approval.
- The permit holder is liable for all damages and repairs to the streetscape, trees and vegetation, sidewalks, streets, or other public amenities that directly relate to the use of the permitted space.
- Permit holders may be required to remove private materials or accessories temporarily to allow street, sidewalk, or utility access for maintenance operations or during approved special events. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance notifies permit holders via email at least 24 hours in advance of event-related street closures approved through City Council.
- All issued permits are location-specific. If within a given year of receiving a permit, the applicant desires to change location of business, the application will have to be resubmitted for the new location. However, fees will be waived if the issued permit is still valid during the time of re-submittal.
- Signs within public space must also meet the standards and specifications of the City Sign Code (Sec. 10-2083).
- The Planning and Zoning Division notifies permit holders of violations.
- The permit holder is responsible for remedying the violation within the time period specified in the notice. Beyond that, fines or subsequent revocation of permits applies as per the standard procedure outlined in Section I.D.3 of this handbook.
- Permit violations incur a first time fine of $100. Subsequent violations are $200 for each occurrence and permits are revoked if a third violation occurs within a fiscal year.
For A-frame signs to be permitted within downtown public spaces, all of the following standards must be met.
- Multi-tenant buildings are allowed one A-frame sign per storefront entrance.
- An unobstructed sidewalk pedestrian passage a minimum of 5 feet in width must be maintained at all times parallel to the street. Where existing obstructions are present (such as fire hydrants), the corridor can be measured to go around these obstructions. For tree grates, the corridor is measured from the outer edge of the grate, unless an ADA-compliant grate is installed, in which case the 5 feet can be measured directly from the tree trunk.
- Signs must be placed in front of the storefront in question and on the same side of the street.
- Signs must not be affixed to street trees.
- Signs must not obscure a building's important architectural features or the main building entrance.
Fayetteville Street Location Standards:
- A-frame signs must allow an unobstructed 7 foot-wide pedestrian corridor parallel to the street at all times.
- A-frame signs are allowed within 3 feet of the building wall (but not within 3 feet of building entrances) or between 9 feet and 12 feet from the building wall (provided they do not block sight distance triangles at street intersections).
- A-frame signs can have a maximum area of 6 square feet with a maximum height of 3 feet and a 2 foot width.
- Business name, logo, street address, building name of the business, food menu of the attached business, sale announcements, price tags, real estate sales, or directional or safety information is permitted on a freestanding sign. The lettering must not exceed 80% of the board. No other advertising is allowed on the signs.
- A-frame signs must have locking arms or other stabilizing devices, and be of sufficient weight to resist wind gusts of up to 10 mph.
- Freestanding signage is subtracted from the property's total signage allowance.
- A-frame signs must not block building entrances or exits.
- A-frame signs can be displayed only during the hours of operation of the associated business.
- A-frame signs must be removed at the end of business by the establishment holding the permit.
- A-frame signs must be removed during approved special events.
- A-frame signs must be removed during inclement weather and high wind conditions.
- Signage must be kept clean, structurally sound, and in visually-appealing condition at all times.
- Completed Minor Encroachment Application Form (check "A-Frame Signs")
- Completed Sign Permit Application
- Proof of Insurance
- Indemnity Agreement
The fees are available in the Development Fee Schedule.
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