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Planning Commission sends new sign regulations to elected officials

Posted on October 19, 2017

The Kenton County Planning Commission voted unanimously this month to send new sign regulations to every jurisdiction in Kenton County. That action was prompted by a late 2015 US Supreme Court Decision that rendered most sign regulations across the country unconstitutional (Reed v. Town of Gilbert).

The Supreme Court’s decision clarified:

1.    when municipalities may impose content-based restrictions on signage; and

2.    the level of constitutional scrutiny when a content-based distinction is challenged.

“The last overhaul of sign regulations in Kenton County was in 2008,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Staff recognized that a number of our communities had some serious issues with their sign regulations that could lead to constitutional challenges.”

The need was so imperative that the PDS Management Board hired a nationally-known consultant on sign regulations to propose a new set that would conform to the constitutional principles and federal court rulings of that time.

Fourteen of Kenton County’s 19 jurisdictions adopted that proposed overhaul, according to Gordon. Due to the ruling in the Gilbert case, PDS staff once again recommended and the Board retained the services of the same consultant to review those 2008 sign regulations and advise the jurisdictions on necessary changes.

“Jurisdictions that adopted the recommended 2008 regulations are mostly in good shape today because they removed many of the content-based distinctions that were ruled unconstitutional in the Gilbert case,” said Gordon. “This proposed 2017 update will get all our communities up to the standard that will pass constitutional review.”

Each of Kenton County’s 19 jurisdiction will receive a copy of the Planning Commission’s recommendation within the next week. It will be accompanied by an individualized copy of the new sign regulations tailored specifically to each jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance. Staff will work with each jurisdiction over the next several months to enact these proposed changes.

For more information on this recommended update, contact Andy Videkovich, AICP, current planning manager at PDS.