Land-use webinar series to kick off Jan. 20 with session on signs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The recent Reed v. Town of Gilbert Supreme Court case and its implications for municipal sign ordinances will be the topic of a Web-based seminar that will kick off the 2016 Winter/Spring Land Use Webinar Series offered by Penn State Extension.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar, which will take place at noon on Jan. 20, will be Charles Courtney, attorney with McNees, Wallace & Nurick LLC, and Marley Bice, certified planner with the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

"In the Reed v. Town of Gilbert case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Gilbert's sign code violates the First Amendment pertaining to the core First Amendment requirement of content neutrality, by placing greater restrictions on 'temporary direction signs,' including those directing the public to a church," said Courtney. He will provide an analysis of the Supreme Court opinion and how it may affect sign ordinances for municipalities.

Local governments must look at revising their sign regulations to address the content-neutral, temporary/limited-duration signs that were included in the Reed v. Town of Gilbert decision, according to Bice.

"I will address the content-neutral, temporary sign issue by looking at the innovative ideas and regulations that are included in the Montgomery County Model Sign Ordinance," Bice said. "In addition, the ordinance provides a guide for how to create context-sensitive sign standards."

That model sign ordinance contains specific standards for six different zoning district types — rural, residential, main street commercial, village commercial, general commercial/industrial and institutional — that allow for more appropriate sign size and illumination criteria based on the community character.

Other webinars offered in the monthly land-use series, which all start at noon and are recorded for future viewing, include the following:

--Feb. 17: "When It Rains, It Drains: An Overview of MS4 Stormwater Management"

--March 16: "Dealing with Conflict over Natural Resource and Land Use Issues: An Introduction to the Strategies and Tools"

--April 13: "Stabilizing Neighborhoods through Vacant and Abandoned Property Initiatives"

--May 18: "Form-based Zoning: Not Your Grandfather's Approach"

The cost of the webinar series is $40 for all five webinars and $75 for all five webinars for those who want to receive certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu, or visit the website to register for the webinars.

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Last Updated January 08, 2016