County returns to sign regulations

by Chris Peterson
Editor | May 12, 2020 1:20 PM

Flathead County is taking another stab at signage regulations in the scenic corridor of area highways.

The county attempted to amend its scenic corridor sign regulations in 2018, a move that brought broad opposition to the measure. But that change spoke to off-premise signs.

Flathead County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the matter at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 14. The commissioners meet on the third floor of the old County Courthouse at 800 South Main in Kalispell.

The new amendment would continue the ban off-premise signage, including billboards, but would allow for signs for on-premise commercial or industrial use, including free standing signs, buildings signs and portable signs.

Those signs are regulated under Chapter 7 of the zoning regulations. Under chapter 7, the size of a sign can be dictated by the type of zoning of the property.

But in general, it’s also dictated by the building size or lot length. For example, the maximum sign size for a building with 251 or more feet of footage is 432 square feet.

A 20-foot-by-20-foot sign is 400 square feet.

If the lot contains a drive-thru window, like a restaurant, signs would also be allowed in the proposed new regulations, including: “One sign that does not exceed 8 square-feet in size, 4 feet in height and within 6 feet from a curb cut; one sign that does not exceed 32 square-feet in size, 8 feet in height and within 10 feet from the building; and one portable sign per establishment.”

The proposed regulations also allow for residential signs “not exceeding 6 square feet in area, in connection with a nonresidential permitted or conditionally permitted use and a freestanding or ground sign shall not exceed 8 feet above ground elevation.”

The scenic corridor is currently defined as “an overlay or standing district intended to protect the scenic vistas and provide greater traffic safety along the highway corridors by restricting the number, size and location of outdoor advertising signs and billboards.”

The scenic overlay follows many of Flathead County’s major highways and roads including U.S. 93 from Whitefish to Lincoln County and Kalispell to Lakeside, Montana 40 from Whitefish to Columbia Falls, U.S. Highway 2 to Marias Pass.