Defensible Sign Regulations



Wednesday, February 7, 2018, midnight
Thursday, December 31, 2020, midnight CST

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Communities regulate the characteristics of signs to achieve multiple goals, such as limiting driver distraction, maintaining the aesthetic character of the community, and implementing aspects of related plans. The extent and nature of such regulations, however, are limited by the First Amendment. This course will show participants how to draft—and adopt—sign ordinances that accomplish those purposes while conforming with the First Amendment. Many, if not most, local sign ordinances today include provisions that violate the Constitution, but in most cases there are ways to accomplish the same policy goals without running afoul of the Constitution. This course provides a brief overview of typical sign regulations, discusses how the First Amendment affects local sign ordinances, and, finally, recommends sign regulations that conform to Constitutional constraints. In this context, the course covers electronic message boards, more traditional forms of temporary and permanent signs, and, last but not least, flags. 

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Eric Kelly

Invited Speaker

Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University (retired in 2017) and an independent planning consultant. A frequent litigation consultant and expert witness on cases involving the regulation of signs, billboards and/or adult businesses. Has consulted with more than 100 local governments in more than 35 states. Since 1995, Kelly has been general editor of the 10-volume Matthew Bender set Zoning and Land Use Controls. An author or co-author of seven technical reports published in the Planning Advisory Service Reports series of the American Planning Association, including Everything you always wanted to know about regulating sex businesses with Connie Cooper. Kelly is a past national president of the American Planning Association, and in 1999, he was inducted as one of the members of College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Kelly holds Master of City Planning and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in public policy from the Union Institute. He is a member of the Colorado bar. He completed Yoga Teacher Training in 2017 and now teaches Yoga -- mostly for people new to Yoga -- at several locations.