Community Issues

Signs - Kingsville

The Good

When used properly, signs can enhance a business by identifying it and the products it offers. They allow a potential customer to find the business, often while driving by.

This is why Baltimore County has adopted a Sign Code. When the current code was enacted in 1997, it provided a very generous 15-year abatement period. It ended on October 19, 2012, so any previously "grand-fathered" sign must now be removed. The Code stipulates reasonable limits on number and size of signs for each property. It addresses both permanent and temporary signs. In the BL and BM zones in the Kingsville area (since it is in a CR overlay district, and outside the URDL), the basic limits (unless a variance was granted) are as follows:

  • Each property allowed 1 non-illuminated free-standing sign, 25 sq ft max, 25 ft high, per road frontage.
  • Each property allowed 1 non-illuminated wall sign, 8 sq ft max.
  • No electronic changeable-copy signs (that means no flashing "Open" sign in the window).
  • No lit window signs (like the liquor store had).
  • Display of goods for sale, including vehicles, not more than 5 ft in front of required building line. (unclear where this line is for existing buildings)
  • Temporary event sign (grand-opening, closing, etc.) 60 days per year with a permit. (A "temporary" sign must be "constructed of cloth, fabric, or other lightweight material".)
  • No portable signs. (some pictured below as "ugly")
  • "Flags" of a country are allowed, but must be "a panel of fabric of distinctive design that is used as a symbol of a nation". Executive Order 10834 defines what the flag of the US must look like. Federal law also prohibits using the American flag for commercial purposes or putting any writing over it.

To the left are examples of signs in Kingsville that are not offensive and generally within the regulations. As such, they are an asset to the community. (Some of these are "technically" in violation of the Code, maybe a little too large, but no one is complaining.)

The Bad and The Ugly

When not used properly, such as with excessive or ugly signs, they detract from businesses, especially for others. While a store with gaudy signs may attract more attention, and see an increase in sales, it is done at the detriment of nearby responsible businesses whose decent signs are crowded out. Studies also suggest that a glut of ugly signs in an area actually leads to increased crime, since people often act in accordance with how they perceive their environment.

To the right are shown signs that have appeared in Kingsville that were not in compliance with the Sign Code and were detrimental to the community.

It can be expected that, with the elimination of the ugly and excessive signs, others will spend a little money on upgrading and improving their old and run-down signs.

Belair Rd - Kingsville's Core Retail Center

The core retail business area of Kingsville (besides the auto repair shops by the Triangle) extends from about 500 ft north of the Triangle intersection north to about Open Bible Way. There are numerous businesses along this stretch, all vying for drivers attention by putting up signs, some completely inappropriate. Remember that this stretch also includes some residences. The following is comments on their appropriateness and what action should be taken to clean up this stretch. I have included every business along here, up the east side and back on the west side.

12027 Yurek Cassedy, CPA

This is a perfect example of the proper type of sign in what is otherwise a "house", although this property was for some reason zoned BL CR. (This actually looks like it was a mistake, with the ROA zoning to the south being what should have been on this property.

12037 Bel Air Discount Mattress

At about the same time that Reds was forced out of their lease by the property owners to become Greenes, this discount mattress store took up residency where the PNC bank had been (which, like many mattress stores lasted only a few months). They put up numerous illegal signs and a citation was issued and a hearing held at which they were fined $1000.
See separate section for Code Enforcement efforts.

12201 Myers Tree Service and Firewood sales

Excessive small "temporary" signs. Incidentally, this property was never approved as a "contractor's storage yard", which cannot happen in this zone. Further, the back end of the property is zoned RC5.

12225 at Entrance to United Presbyterian Church (Billboards)

The continued existence of these two billboards should be challenged. The 1997 enactment of the Sign Code (Section 450) limits billboards (aka "outdoor advertising") to business zones (and not outside the URDL and not where it can be seen from a scenic route, which Belair Rd is) and provided a generous 15-year abatement period, which ended in 2012, when all non-conforming signs were supposed to be removed.

Section 450.7.C.2.b establishes the process for removal of existing signs. It says that the County may have to reimburse the owner. However, Section 450.8.D provides the abatement requirements, that is, they must be removed by 2012. As I read it, it does not provide any exception or reimbursement for these billboards.

12301/12303 Celebrie (and multiple other tenants)

The Joint Identification sign is larger than allowed in this location. The CR overlay limits freestanding enterprise signs to 25 sq ft, but fails to recognize a joint identification sign, which this is. It would be limited to 100 sq ft if it were not a CR district. This one is about 128 sq ft. A larger sign would likely be granted via a variance hearing considering the speed at this point. What is not acceptable, is the extra "flag" and the (large) wall sign, which is supposed to be limited to 8 sq ft.

Farmer's Market or Farmer's Roadside stand - which is it?

This farmer's market (like almost every other one) is putting up too many, crappy-looking signs. They are allowed a total of 25 sq ft of signage, height of 6 ft if the use has been approved via a use permit or Special Exception, which has not occurred.

12200 Kings Court Motel

Not "pretty", but of appropriate size and content.

12116 Kingsville Auto Repair

Although auto repair shops are never "pretty", Terry has always kept this property in line with the Code and community expectations. All cars are usually parked in the allocated, marked spaces, and one rarely sees obvious junked or disabled cars on the lot (except sometimes mine). I have no doubt that, if the other excessive and trashy signs in the area were eliminated, Terry would consider investing in a new sign.

12102 Fresh Prints on Belair

12100 Van Dorn Pools & Spas

This business has been demonstrating for years that they have no concern for our community - they only want to attract (and distract) the attention of those driving through at high speed. See separate section for Code Enforcement efforts.

12032 Déjà Vu Salon & Spa

This business erected a very tasteful, proper sized free-standing sign. The business name etched into the front face of the building is also very nice looking and appropriate, but "technically" in violation of the code because of its size. No one is complaining.

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Updated 21 Mar 2022 by MAP