Limited Duration Signs
Temporary signs, known as limited duration signs in Sec. 19.1-278 of the county ordinance, are easy to buy and simple to install. They can provide an effective way to advertise. There are legal limits on where such signs may be posted on private property in Chesterfield County. County code standards control the permitted size, number and location of temporary signs on private property.
Temporary signs located in the public right-of-way are illegal and subject to removal per Virginia code section 33.2-1224.
Applying for a Permit
Apply for a temporary sign permit by using the Community Development Division's Enterprise Land Management (ELM) Citizen Access Portal. After creating an account in ELM, apply for a limited duration sign permit by following these instructions (PDF). View more information about the ELM portal.
Types of Temporary Signs
Many different types of temporary signs advertise businesses, political campaigns, community organizations, events, real estate, yard sales, etc. Temporary signs have a limited lifespan and are not permanently mounted. These signs include:
- A-Frame Signs: Temporary portable signs, also called sandwich boards.
- Banners: Temporary signs made of flexible material, attached to a frame, posts or a structure.
- Flags: Temporary signs of flexible material, used to attract attention to a commercial use or activity. This includes feather flags (vertical advertising flags).
- Ground-Mounted Signs: Temporary signs, also called bandit yard, or lawn signs, made of lightweight temporary material and mounted on a wire, stake, stand or frame driven into the ground.
- Pole-Mounted Signs: Temporary signs or posters attached to utility poles or traffic safety signs.
Permitted vs. Prohibited Temporary Signs
Permitted Temporary Signs
Zoning rules for permitted temporary signs on private property vary based on the type of sign, zoning and other factors. Please check with the Planning Department for the applicable rules for your situation.
Prohibited Temporary Signs
Various laws regulate temporary signs. These laws are intended to protect public safety and community attractiveness. The following types of temporary signs are prohibited in Chesterfield County.
- Signs in the public right-of-way: The public right-of-way includes paved public roads, medians and roadsides. Roadside areas include drainage ditches, landscape strips, curbs, gutters, unimproved areas and sidewalks, generally within ten (10) feet of the edge of pavement. This width varies by location and should be verified by a survey plat. These signs are illegal under state law (Code of Virginia Section 33.2-1224, which prohibits signs in the public right-of-way).
- Signs within 20 feet of the edge of the road pavement or face of curb: These restrictions apply to most commercially developed roadways in Chesterfield County. There are limited exceptions to this rule, for Special Design Districts (such as the commercial core areas of Bon Air, Chester, Ettrick, Matoaca and Midlothian). Zoning Ordinance Section 19.1-278 outlines these expectations.
- Signs advertising a product or service offered at a different property than where the sign is posted. These are also offsite advertising signs (Zoning Ordinance Section 19.1-271).
- Signs attached to utility poles or traffic control signs.
- Signs that move or flutter to attract attention.
- Signs that overhang a property line.
Temporary signs illegally placed on private property are a zoning violation and are subject to code compliance. You may file a complaint regarding such signs using the Community Development Division's Enterprise Land Management (ELM) Citizen Access Portal.
Such complaints will be investigated by code compliance staff to determine if an actual code violation exists. If a violation does exist, staff will notify the property owner and seek voluntary compliance. Correction may require sign removal or relocation and may result in court action.
While the enforcement process moves forward for each individual sign, that sign may remain visible until the violation is resolved. Such legal processes may require several weeks to several months to resolve, from complaint to compliance.
Temporary signs illegally placed in the public right-of-way are subject to removal and disposal, without notice, as part of ongoing countywide beautification. This effort is not complaint-based and has several important features:
- This program is proactive: Public complaints do not prioritize or direct removal of illegal temporary signs from the public right-of-way. Our approach minimizes administrative demands associated with complaint processing and enforcement proceedings, so that limited staff resources may be more efficiently deployed to remove the greatest number of illegal signs. This promotes equitable countywide removal of illegal temporary signs from the public right-of-way.
- This program prioritizes major roadways: We focus on major roads with the highest traffic levels and which historically have the greatest number of illegal temporary signs in the public right-of-way. This maximizes positive visual impact countywide.
- This program is part of countywide beautification efforts. This program is not an enforcement activity.
- This program encourages community volunteers for sign removal. Interested county residents may apply to serve as sign removal volunteers. To participate in this program, you must apply, be trained and agree to comply with safety and program guidelines. Contact Community Enhancement for further information. You can be part of the solution to help improve the county!