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Legal considerations have always played a critical role in the development of a sign code, but that role has taken on renewed importance in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz., 135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015). A detailed analysis of Reed is obviously beyond the scope of this paper. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that the Reed Court announced a far more stringent test to determine whether a sign code's provisions are "content-neutral" or "content-based." In short, the Court ruled that any sign code provision that "on its face" considers the message on a sign to determine how it will be regulated is content-based. The practical effect of finding that a sign code provision is content-based is to heighten the judicial scrutiny of such a provision if challenged. A provision that is content-neutral is subjected only to intermediate judicial scrutiny: the provision will be upheld if government can demonstrate that the regulation serves a substantial governmental interest and is narrowly-tailored to achieve that interest. In contrast, a provision that is content-based is subjected to strict judicial scrutiny: the provision will be upheld only if government can demonstrate that the regulation serves a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive alternative to achieve that interest.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz., 135 S.Ct. 2218, 2227 (2015).
Central Radio Co. Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Va., 811 F.3d 625 (4th Cir. 2016).
Central Radio Co. Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Virginia, 776 F.3d 229 (4th Cir.2015), cert. granted, judgment vacated, sub nom. Cent. Radio Co. Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Va.135 S. Ct. 2893, 192 L. Ed. 2d 919 (2015).
Central Radio Co. Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Va., 811 F.3d 625 (4th Cir. 2016). See also Geft Outdoor LLC v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis and County of Marion, Indiana, 187 F. Supp. 3d 1002 (S.D. Ind. 2016).
Wagner v. City of Garfield Heights, 675 Fed. Appx. 599 (6th Cir. 2017). See also Marin v. Town of Southeast, 136 F. Supp. 3d 548 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).
Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz., 135 S.Ct. at 2236-2239.
Schneider v. City of Ramsey, 800 F.Supp. 815 (D.Minn. 1992), aff'd sub nom. Holmberg v. City of Ramsey, 12 F.3d 140, 144-45 (8th Cir. 1994).
Brian J. Connolly & Mark A. Wyckoff, MICHIGAN SIGN GUIDEBOOK: THE LOCAL PLANNING AND REGULATION OF SIGNS, 12-3, 13-3 (2011), available at http://scenicmichigan.org/sign-regulation-guidebook.
Daniel R. Mandelker, Andrew Bertucci & William Ewald, STREET GRAPHICS AND THE LAW 51, PLANNING ADVISORY SERV. REP. NO. 527, (Am. Plan. Ass'n rev. ed. 2004).
BOERNE, TEX., SIGN ORDINANCE § 18 (2008).
CITY OF FARMINGTON, MICH. ZONING ORDINANCE § 35-233.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMIN., THE EFFECTS OF COMMERCIAL ELECTRONIC VARIABLE MESSAGE SIGNS (CEVMS) ON DRIVER ATTENTION AND DISTRACTION: AN UPDATE, Publ'n No. FHWA-HRT-09-018 (Feb. 2009), available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/cevms.pdf.
Dawn Jourdan et al, AN EVIDENCE BASED MODEL SIGN CODE (2011), available at http://www.dcp.ufl.edu/files/8c71fa03-9cbf-4af2-9.pdf.
LaTrieste Restaurant and Cabaret, Inc. v. Vill. of Port Chester, 40 F.3d 587, 590 (2d Cir. 1994).