City Code Requirements for Temporary Signs

Temporary signs alert people to information about short-term activities or issues, such as garage sales, open houses, grand openings, an event, or a weekend sale, or the sign may express an opinion about a particular topic. The criteria for temporary signs depends on where the sign will be located.  The information below details where you can place your signs, what kinds of signs are allowed, and information on other requirements.

 

Signs in the Public Rights-of-Way (along city streets):  Signs can be displayed in the area along the public streets from 5 a.m. on Fridays until 7 a.m. on the following Monday. No permit is required, and there is no limit to the number of signs that can be located in the public rights-of-way. However, no signs can be placed in a street, sidewalk, roundabout, or median. Signs must be placed at least 50 feet away from all intersections and 5 feet away from the curb or from the edge of the road. Refer to the diagram below.

All temporary signs in the rights-of-way can be no larger than 6 square feet in size (for example a 2 ft x3 ft sign) and no taller than 4 feet in height.  These signs must stand on their own; they cannot be attached to stop signs, street signs, vehicles, utility boxes, fences, poles, or trees. Nothing can be attached to the signs, including balloons, pennants, or moving parts. Temporary signs may not be illuminated.

City staff will remove any sign that does not follow these guidelines or falls into the sidewalk or the street.

Signs in the Public Right-of-Way 


Signs on city of Thornton Property:  Signs may not be installed on city property, including the property in front of City Hall, the recreation center, parks, and other facilities.  However, if the city has issued a permit for the use of the property by a person or group, such as a park pavilion, then signs associated with that use may be displayed for the duration of the permit period.  Signs installed on city of Thornton property in violation of these provisions will be removed and disposed of without notice.


Signs on Private Property:  Temporary signs may be located on private property with the permission of the property owner. Signs cannot obstruct drivers' views of oncoming traffic at intersections.  Signs cannot block public access ways such as sidewalks, driveways, and doorways.  The following summary provides general information about displaying temporary signs.

What kinds of signs can I have?

    • Several kinds of temporary signs are authorized, such as freestanding signs, banners and feather flags.  Click on the various sign types for example pictures of each.
Freestanding Sign                       Feather Flag                     Banner

Do I need a permit to display temporary signs on private property?

    • No permit is required for freestanding signs, banners and feather flags.  Other types of signs require a special event sign permit.  Information on sign permits is available by calling 303-538-7295, or send an email to citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net.

How many signs can I display on private property?

    • There is no limit to the number of signs, but the total area of all signs cannot exceed the maximum allowed per property. See the charts, below.

How big can each sign be?

    • There is no maximum sign size, as long as the total area of all signs does not exceed the maximum allowed. However, there is a maximum height for each sign.  See tables below.

Where can I place my signs?

    • All signs need to be located at least 5 feet from all property lines.  If the sign is taller than 5 feet, then it needs to be placed at least the height of the sign away from the property lines.  Signs must be at least 25 feet away from intersections.

How long can I display my signs?

    • Each property can display one sign for up to 180 days.  All other temporary signs displayed at the same time on the same property can only be displayed for 30 days.

What else do I need to know about displaying signs?

    • Banners must be securely attached to a building or other permanent structure.
    • Freestanding signs and feather flags must be securely fastened to the ground to prevent them from falling over or being blown over in the wind.
    • Any signs that fall or blow into the public street or sidewalk will be removed by the city.

How much signage can I have?

    • That depends on the zoning of the property and its size.  Review the charts below to determine how much signage is allowed.
    • If you are not sure of the zoning of the property, contact the City Development Department at 303-538-7295 or citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net.  You will need the street address or the tax parcel number of the property in question.

Can I display signs on undeveloped (vacant) land?

    • You must have the permission of the property owner to display your temporary signs on another's private property.
    • The amount of signage allowed depends on the zoning and size of the property.  Review the charts below to determine how much signage is allowed.
    • If you are not sure of the zoning of the property, contact the City Development Department at 303-538-7295 or citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net.  You will need the street address or the tax parcel number of the property in question.

Are other types of signs allowed, such as balloons, pennant strands, inflatable devices, etc.?

    • Balloons, air dancers, pennant strands, inflatable devices, air dancers, and other signage used for a special event may require a special event sign permit. Permit applications may be requested at the Building Inspection Division, 9500 Civic Center Drive. 
    • For additional information on a special event sign permit, contact the City Development Department at 303-538-7295 or citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net. 

 

The charts below indicate the amount of allowed signage for residential and nonresidential (commercial) private properties, and for undeveloped land.  If you have other questions, contact a Thornton Neighborhood Services code officer at 303-538-7600 or code@cityofthornton.net.


Allowed Signage for Residential Properties

  • Residential properties include those with single-family homes, apartments, townhomes or condominiums, manufactured home parks, etc.  Some churches have residential zoning as well.
  • The amount of signage allowed depends on the size of the property.  Most single-family homes are located on lots that are less than one acre.

Residential Property

Sign Requirements

Property Size

Less than one acre

One acre or larger

Maximum sign area per property

72 square feet

100 square feet

Maximum sign height (measured from the ground to the top of the sign)

Freestanding signs and feather flags

6 feet

10 feet

Banners

Based on the height of the structure that the banner is attached to




Allowed Signage for Nonresidential (Business) Properties

  • Nonresidential properties include businesses located in shopping centers, stand-alone stores, and other locations operated as retail, service, and similar uses.  This does not include businesses operated from a residence, called home occupations, which must comply with the residential property requirements listed above.
  • The maximum sign area allowed is based on the size of the space occupied by the building user or tenant.  The amount of signage allowed depends on the size of the tenant space and the zoning of the property.

Nonresidential Property

Sign Requirements

Neighborhood Service and

Eastlake Zones

Other Nonresidential Zones

Maximum sign area per building user or tenant (based on the floor area of the business)

Less than 25,000 square feet

60 square feet

25,000 to less than 100,000 square feet

105 square feet

100,000 square feet or larger

230 square feet

Maximum sign height (measured from the ground to the top of the sign)

Banners

Based on the height of the structure that the banner is attached to

Freestanding signs and feather flags

10 feet

20 feet


Balloons, air dancers, pennant strands, inflatable devices, and other signage used for a special event may require a special event sign permit. Permits may be requested at the Building Inspection Division, 9500 Civic Center Drive.  For additional information on a special event sign permit, contact the City Development Department at 303-538-7295 or citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net.  


Allowed Signage for Undeveloped (Vacant) Properties

  • You must have the permission of the property owner to display your temporary sign on another's private property.
  • The amount of signage allowed depends on the zoning and size of the property.  If you are not sure of the zoning of the property, contact the City Development Department at 303-538-7295 or citydevelopment@cityofthornton.net.  You will need the street address or the tax parcel number of the property in question. 

Undeveloped Property

Sign Requirements

Property Type

Residential Zones

Nonresidential Zones

Less than one acre

One acre or larger

Neighborhood Service and

Eastlake Zones

Other Nonresidential Zones

Maximum sign area per property

120 square feet

150 square feet

250 square feet

Maximum sign height (measured from the ground to the top of the sign)

Freestanding signs and feather flags

6 feet

10 feet

10 feet

20 feet

Banners are not allowed on undeveloped land