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City of Lansing

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-Mayor Virg Bernero

Mayor Virg Bernero
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Signs Frequenly Asked Questions

1. What is a sign?

2. Why regulate signs?

3. Are permits required for signs?

4. Do I need a permit for signs I hang in the window of my store?

5. Do I have to be licensed to install a sign?

6. What types of signs are there?

7. Are there any types of signs that are prohibited?

8. Are there any penalties for violation of the Sign Code?

9. Where can I get more information about signs?

Didn't find your question? Feel free to submit your specific question to buildingsafety@lansingmi.gov<br />
1.  What is a sign?
A sign is any device, fixture, placard or structure that uses any color, form, graphic, illumination, symbol or writing to advertise, announce the purpose of or identify the purpose of a person or entity, or to communicate information of any kind to the public.

(Well, that's the technical definition. In other words, a sign is something you put outside to tell people something, with or without the use of words!)

2.  Why regulate signs?
The City of Lansing regulates signs in order to provide a balanced system of signage throughout the City, facilitate communication, promote public safety, minimize visual clutter and enhance property values and business opportunities within the City.

3.  Are permits required for signs?
Permits are required for all signs erected, moved or substantially modified if the sign exceeds 10 square feet in size and is not an allowable temporary sign. If the sign is lighted, an electrical permit may be required.

4.  Do I need a permit for signs I hang in the window of my store?
Signs inside of the windows of a commercial building are not regulated, but all other signs are regulated in one form or another.

5.  Do I have to be licensed to install a sign?
Licensed sign erectors are required to install signs if:
The sign is electrified, or
The sign exceeds 32 square feet in area, or
The sign extends seven feet or more above grade, or
You are paying to have someone install it.

Contact the City Clerk's Office at (517) 483-4131 for further information on the requirements to become a "Licensed Sign Erector" in the City of Lansing or follow this link to the Clerks Licensing Information page.

6.  What types of signs are there?
There are many different types of signs with various shapes, locations and messages, but they can generally be grouped in the following types:
Ground Pole Signs

A ground pole sign is a sign which is supported by one or more poles, uprights or braces in or upon the ground, which are not a part of a building.

Wall Signs
A wall sign is a sign which is attached to, and/or affixed to, the face of a building or structure. A wall sign can not extend more than 24" from the face of the exterior wall to which it is attached.

Temporary Signs
A temporary sign is a sign, banner, inflatable or other advertising device constructed of wood, cloth, canvas, fabric or other light material, with or without a structural frame, intended for a limited period of display, including decorative displays for holidays or public demonstrations. A mobile temporary sign is a sign supported on a mobile frame, with or without wheels, and includes the "trailer sign."

Directional Signs
A directional sign is an on-premise sign containing noncommercial messages, including, but not limited to, designation of rest rooms, telephone locations, restrictions on smoking and door openings. A directional sign may also be used for private traffic control.

7.  Are there any types of signs that are prohibited?
Signs not specifically permitted by the Ordinance are prohibited. Prohibited signs would include:
Abandoned signs.
Animated signs.
Balloons, large inflated animals or other objects used as signs.
Banner signs extending over the right of way without specific permission from the City.
Pennants, streamers, spinners and strings of lights except "holiday" decorations.
Roof signs (except mansard signs which are regulated as wall signs).
Signs that are unlawfully installed or erected.
Signs that are unsafe.
Signs that use the words "stop", "look", "danger", or any other words or symbols that could mislead or confuse motorists.
Signs that obstruct or impair openings used for fire escape.
Signs attached to trees, utility poles, standpipes or gutter drains.
Signs that contain obscene matter.
Signs that contain flashing, blinking, moving or exposed incandescent lights (except moving message boards).
Signs that are attached to a building and project above the parapet or roof line.

8.  Are there any penalties for violation of the Sign Code?
Sign Code violations may result in a Civil Infraction ticket after a warning has been given under the Civil Municipal Infraction Ordinance. Fines for the tickets increase if violations continue.

In the case of mobile temporary signs, the required deposit may be forfeited if the signs use violates the terms of the permit in addition to the sign being confiscated by the City.

9.  Where can I get more information about signs?
You can call  Ms. Susan Stachowiak, Zoning Administrator, at (517) 483-4085 for further information.

Bob Johnson
316 N Capitol Ave
Suite C-1
Lansing, MI 48933
Ph: 517-483-4355
Fax: 517-377-0169

Monday through Friday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Jim Bennett
Building Safety Manager