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Column: City regulates signs to enhance safety

Q: What is the law regarding small signs placed alongside a road or berm? There are a lot of small curb signs popping up all over Red Wing and as a driver, I find them distracting and obstructive.

A: As we travel from point A to point B in Red Wing we encounter signs and the majority of these signs to there to warn and guide us. Signs help to regulate the flow of traffic among vehicles, pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles and others who travel the streets as well. The type of sign that I think you are referring to is a "finder sign" and can be distracting while driving. Without knowing the location of the sign you are addressing or what the sign displayed, I will not be able to specifically answer your question, however, the city of Red Wing does have a sign ordinance, Chapter 11, Zoning, Division 65 covers signs.

Under this ordinance, safety is addressed. No sign or other advertising structure as regulated by this ordinance shall be erected or continued to be displayed at the intersection of any street or public right of way in such a manner as to obstruct free and clear vision: or at any location, by reason of position, shape, or color, interfere with, obstruct the view, or be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal, or device: or which makes use of the words, "STOP", "LOOK', "DRIVE-IN", "DANGER", or any other word, phrase, symbol or character in such a way as to interfere with, mislead, or confuse vehicle operators.

Signs are also prohibited from being placed on utility poles except for utility identification.

I would encourage citizens to contact the Planning and Zoning Department if you plan on displaying a sign in the Red Wing. The zoning administrator is charged with the issuance of permits. The department will be able to provide you with a permit application and advise you on all the sign regulations in our community which includes dimensions, placement, maintenance, and other important details.

Under the ordinance, 65-120 signs allowed in all zoning districts without a sign permit are:

A) House identification signs, such as one containing the address and any building marker, having no more than four (4) square feet and attached to the referenced building.

B) Temporary personal message signs, such as the announcing of births, anniversaries, birthdays, not to exceed 12 square feet. These signs shall only be displayed up to seven days during the event. Signs that are used to announce grand openings, not to exceed 32 square feet, may be displayed up to 90 days during such events.

C) Construction signs typically indicating the names of the architects, engineers, landscape architects, contractors or similar artisans, and/or owners, financial supporters, sponsors, and similar individuals or firms having a role or interest with respect to the structure or project, and rental, sale or lease information.

Such signs shall have a display area not to exceed 16 square feet for R-1 and R-2 zoned areas and 32 square feet for all other zoned areas. These signs shall be attached to a single or double post. All lettering and other markings shall be neat and legible. Before issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the builder/contractor shall be responsible for removing all such signs.

D) Directional/general/public information Signs that meet all applicable state regulations and that are approved by the city engineer.

E) Finder signs such as the ones used for a garage sale and open house events. Such total signage shall be 12 square feet or less, shall only be displayed for up to seven days during such events, shall not be illuminated, and shall not be placed in the public right-of-way. Such signs shall meet all safety requirements in section 65-040 of this ordinance.

F) Freestanding park signs that identify public park lands or activities available in the city of Red Wing.

G) Parking/all purpose signs provided that they are 6 square feet or less in area. Such signs on public right-of-way shall require approval by the city engineer.

H) Church signs on church property, provided that such signs do not exceed 32 square feet in area, are no higher than 10 feet above the ground and set back a minimum of 10 feet from the right of way and five (feet from all other property lines. Church properties shall be allowed one (1) freestanding sign.

I) Political wign. In all zoning districts, political signs are permitted on private property prior to an election and up to seven days following an election. All signs shall be setback a distance from all property lines equal to the installed height of the sign.

J) Monument project signs that as a rule identify residential subdivisions, a major real estate development, apartment complex, industrial, commercial or public project and may provide additional information such as how the owner or management can be reached. Such signs shall not exceed 32 square feet in size if one-sided and 64 square feet in size if two-sided.

K) Real estate signs, provided that they are limited in number to one per zoned lot (except that two shall be permitted on corner lots, one facing each street), do not exceed 24 square feet in area, are not closer than eight feet to any adjoining lot, are not higher than 6 feet above the ground and do not project beyond the property line.

L) Bulletin board sign, not to exceed 32 square feet if one-sided and 64 square feet if two-sided. Church properties are allowed one freestanding sign including bulletin board signs.

These signs may be placed on public or private property without requiring a sign permit but they shall meet all applicable requirements and conditions of this ordinance and all other city ordinances.

The Red Wing Police Department will remove a sign if the sign is a traffic or safety hazard, or in violation of paragraph E, placed in the right of way (this includes the area between the street curb and sidewalk).

Sign Permit Application Form:


1. City of Red Wing City Code, Section 11, Zoning, Division 65.

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