Basic Guidance for the Legal Use of Signs in Estero
This document is designed to provide citizen education and awareness. It summarizes often-complex provisions and thus is not intended as, and cannot be used for, precise legal authority. Legal counsel or Lee County Code Enforcement should be contacted for any further clarification and assistance that may be desired. (Contacts at end of document.)
The community of Estero — widely praised for its attractive appearance, amenities and quality of life – has strict but sensible standards for architecture, landscaping and other land use matters. These standards include the signs that are allowed in the community. There are, in the Lee County Land Development Code (LDC), a number of legal limits and restrictions on signage that must be respected . . . unless and until any such restrictions are successfully changed through the established legal process that involves Estero residents and both county and community officials.
This brief document focuses on the most common violations found in Estero in recent years and is not a comprehensive summary of the signage portion of the LDC. (In the discussion that follows, items in section 33 of the Code are provisions unique to Estero, while items in section 30 are Countywide provisions not unique to Estero.)
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BANNERS, FLAGS, PENNANTS
- Banner signs (pennants, flags, balloons or other flying or flapping materials) are specifically prohibited altogether in Estero [LDC Sec 33-383(4)].
OTHER TEMPORARY SIGNS
- A-frame, portable signs, small ground signs, when located on private property (not in public right-of-way), may be utilized upon issuance of a special occasion sign permit. These permits are available for periods of up to fifteen days, twice in a calendar year [LDC Sec 33-384].
- Placing a campaign sign on properties owned by others are subject to a location list requirement [LDC Sec 30-151(4) (a)]. The code has not been changed yet, but the county no longer requires a monetary bond. However, the candidates do need to provide personal signatures in a Candidates Statement form that is a part of the application.
- Campaign signs may not be erected more than sixty days before an election and shall be removed within ten days after an election [LDC 30-151(4) (b)].
- Signs in areas zoned agricultural, commercial or industrial shall not exceed thirty-two square feet in area or six feet in height [LDC 30-151(4) (c)].
- A property owner may not place a campaign sign on his property that exceeds four square feet in area per sign [LDC 30-151(4) (d)].
- NOTE: The sign ordinance does not address the issue of whether a political candidate or his organization must get the property owner’s approval before putting a sign on the owner’s property. If an Estero resident finds a political sign on his property that he does not wish to have, he may wish to consult with an attorney concerning the possible ability, based on the law of “trespass,” to take down the sign (perhaps with a requirement to offer it back to the campaign).
REAL ESTATE SIGNS
- Real estate agents or property owners actively engaged in the selling, renting or leasing of property (including the use of “open houses”) are permitted to place signs on the subject properties; however, the type of property being sold determines the size and location of the sign or signs [LDC Sec 30-151(6) (a) (1), (2) & 30-151(6) (b)] (the extent of these variations is too diverse to be included in this brief summary).
- A “sold” sign must be removed within thirty days of the sale [LDC Sec 30-151(6) (a) (3)].
- Illuminated signs require a construction permit [LDC 30-151(6) (e)].
- Every sign legally erected before the effective date of an applicable code section (or amendment thereto) which would make the erection of such a sign after that date is a legal nonconforming sign [LDC Sec 30-55 (a)].
- A legally nonconforming signed must be maintained as prescribed by the LDC and can lose its status as legally nonconforming for multiple reasons [LDC Sec 30-55 (a) & (b)].
- Noteworthy Changes:
o September 17, 2012 marked a change in the appearance of monument and monument-style signs, which identify business locations. This change explains why some signs in Estero appear square or taller than they are wide while more recently-approved signs appear wider than they are tall. (Ordinance No. 12-21).
If you have any questions concerning the guidance contained here, or other signage matters, we suggest that you call Mary Zettel of Lee County Code Enforcement at (239) 533-8864.