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The Florida Statutes

The 2013 Florida Statutes

Title XXXII
REGULATION OF PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS
Chapter 479
OUTDOOR ADVERTISING
View Entire Chapter
CHAPTER 479
CHAPTER 479
OUTDOOR ADVERTISING
PART I
GENERAL PROVISIONS
(ss. 479.01-479.25)
PART II
SPECIAL PROGRAMS
(ss. 479.261-479.30)
PART III
SIGN REMOVAL
(ss. 479.310-479.315)
PART I
GENERAL PROVISIONS
479.01 Definitions.
479.015 Legislative intent with respect to regulation of signs in areas adjacent to state highways.
479.02 Duties of the department.
479.03 Jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation; entry upon privately owned lands.
479.04 Business of outdoor advertising; license requirement; renewal; fees.
479.05 Denial or revocation of license.
479.07 Sign permits.
479.08 Denial or revocation of permit.
479.10 Sign removal following permit revocation.
479.105 Signs erected or maintained without required permit; removal.
479.106 Vegetation management.
479.107 Signs on highway rights-of-way; removal.
479.11 Specified signs prohibited.
479.111 Specified signs allowed within controlled portions of the interstate and federal-aid primary highway system.
479.12 Outdoor advertising on highways.
479.14 Disposition of fees.
479.15 Harmony of regulations.
479.155 Local outdoor advertising or sign ordinances.
479.156 Wall murals.
479.16 Signs for which permits are not required.
479.21 Willfully or maliciously removing, destroying, damaging, or altering permitted signs; penalty.
479.24 Compensation for removal of signs; eminent domain; exceptions.
479.25 Erection of noise-attenuation barrier blocking view of sign; procedures; application.
479.01 Definitions.As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Allowable uses” means those uses that are authorized within a zoning category without the requirement to obtain a variance or waiver. The term includes conditional uses and those allowed by special exception, but does not include uses that are accessory, incidental to the allowable uses, or allowed only on a temporary basis.
(2) “Automatic changeable facing” means a facing that is capable of delivering two or more advertising messages through an automated or remotely controlled process.
(3) “Business of outdoor advertising” means the business of constructing, erecting, operating, using, maintaining, leasing, or selling outdoor advertising structures, outdoor advertising signs, or outdoor advertisements.
(4) “Commercial or industrial zone” means a parcel of land designated for commercial or industrial uses under both the future land use map of the comprehensive plan and the land use development regulations adopted pursuant to chapter 163. If a parcel is located in an area designated for multiple uses on the future land use map of a comprehensive plan and the zoning category of the land development regulations does not clearly designate that parcel for a specific use, the area will be considered an unzoned commercial or industrial area if it meets the criteria of subsection (26).
(5) “Commercial use” means activities associated with the sale, rental, or distribution of products or the performance of services. The term includes, without limitation, such uses or activities as retail sales; wholesale sales; rentals of equipment, goods, or products; offices; restaurants; food service vendors; sports arenas; theaters; and tourist attractions.
(6) “Controlled area” means 660 feet or less from the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any portion of the State Highway System, interstate, or federal-aid primary system and beyond 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any portion of the State Highway System, interstate, or federal-aid primary system outside an urban area.
(7) “Department” means the Department of Transportation.
(8) “Erect” means to construct, build, raise, assemble, place, affix, attach, create, paint, draw, or in any other way bring into being or establish; but it does not include any of the foregoing activities when performed as an incident to the change of advertising message or customary maintenance or repair of a sign.
(9) “Federal-aid primary highway system” means the existing, unbuilt, or unopened system of highways or portions thereof, which shall include the National Highway System, designated as the federal-aid primary highway system by the department.
(10) “Highway” means any road, street, or other way open or intended to be opened to the public for travel by motor vehicles.
(11) “Industrial use” means activities associated with the manufacture, assembly, processing, or storage of products or the performance of services relating thereto. The term includes, without limitation, such uses or activities as automobile manufacturing or repair, boat manufacturing or repair, junk yards, meat packing facilities, citrus processing and packing facilities, produce processing and packing facilities, electrical generating plants, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, and solid waste disposal sites.
(12) “Interstate highway system” means the existing, unbuilt, or unopened system of highways or portions thereof designated as the national system of interstate and defense highways by the department.
(13) “Main-traveled way” means the traveled way of a highway on which through traffic is carried. In the case of a divided highway, the traveled way of each of the separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions is a main-traveled way. It does not include such facilities as frontage roads, turning roadways which specifically include on-ramps or off-ramps to the interstate highway system, or parking areas.
(14) “Maintain” means to allow to exist.
(15) “Motorist services directional signs” means signs providing directional information about goods and services in the interest of the traveling public where such signs were lawfully erected and in existence on or before May 6, 1976, and continue to provide directional information to goods and services in a defined area.
(16) “New highway” means the construction of any road, paved or unpaved, where no road previously existed or the act of paving any previously unpaved road.
(17) “Nonconforming sign” means a sign which was lawfully erected but which does not comply with the land use, setback, size, spacing, and lighting provisions of state or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance passed at a later date or a sign which was lawfully erected but which later fails to comply with state or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance due to changed conditions.
(18) “Premises” means all the land areas under ownership or lease arrangement to the sign owner which are contiguous to the business conducted on the land except for instances where such land is a narrow strip contiguous to the advertised activity or is connected by such narrow strip, the only viable use of such land is to erect or maintain an advertising sign. When the sign owner is a municipality or county, “premises” shall mean all lands owned or leased by such municipality or county within its jurisdictional boundaries as set forth by law.
(19) “Remove” means to disassemble, transport from the site, and dispose of sign materials by sale or destruction.
(20) “Sign” means any combination of structure and message in the form of an outdoor sign, display, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard, advertising structure, advertisement, logo, symbol, or other form, whether placed individually or on a V-type, back-to-back, side-to-side, stacked, or double-faced display or automatic changeable facing, designed, intended, or used to advertise or inform, any part of the advertising message or informative contents of which is visible from any place on the main-traveled way. The term does not include an official traffic control sign, official marker, or specific information panel erected, caused to be erected, or approved by the department.
(21) “Sign direction” means that direction from which the message or informative contents are most visible to oncoming traffic on the main-traveled way.
(22) “Sign face” means the part of the sign, including trim and background, which contains the message or informative contents.
(23) “Sign facing” includes all sign faces and automatic changeable faces displayed at the same location and facing the same direction.
(24) “Sign structure” means all the interrelated parts and material, such as beams, poles, and stringers, which are constructed for the purpose of supporting or displaying a message or informative contents.
(25) “State Highway System” means the existing, unbuilt, or unopened system of highways or portions thereof designated as the State Highway System by the department.
(26) “Unzoned commercial or industrial area” means a parcel of land designated by the future land use map of the comprehensive plan for multiple uses that include commercial or industrial uses but are not specifically designated for commercial or industrial uses under the land development regulations, in which three or more separate and distinct conforming industrial or commercial activities are located.
(a) These activities must satisfy the following criteria:
1. At least one of the commercial or industrial activities must be located on the same side of the highway and within 800 feet of the sign location;
2. The commercial or industrial activities must be within 660 feet from the nearest edge of the right-of-way; and
3. The commercial industrial activities must be within 1,600 feet of each other.

Distances specified in this paragraph must be measured from the nearest outer edge of the primary building or primary building complex when the individual units of the complex are connected by covered walkways.

(b) Certain activities, including, but not limited to, the following, may not be so recognized as commercial or industrial activities:
1. Signs.
2. Agricultural, forestry, ranching, grazing, farming, and related activities, including, but not limited to, wayside fresh produce stands.
3. Transient or temporary activities.
4. Activities not visible from the main-traveled way.
5. Activities conducted more than 660 feet from the nearest edge of the right-of-way.
6. Activities conducted in a building principally used as a residence.
7. Railroad tracks and minor sidings.
8. Communication towers.
(27) “Urban area” has the same meaning as defined in s. 334.03(31).
(28) “Visible commercial or industrial activity” means a commercial or industrial activity that is capable of being seen without visual aid by a person of normal visual acuity from the main-traveled way and that is generally recognizable as commercial or industrial.
(29) “Visible sign” means that the advertising message or informative contents of a sign, whether or not legible, is capable of being seen without visual aid by a person of normal visual acuity.
(30) “Wall mural” means a sign that is a painting or an artistic work composed of photographs or arrangements of color and that displays a commercial or noncommercial message, relies solely on the side of the building for rigid structural support, and is painted on the building or depicted on vinyl, fabric, or other similarly flexible material that is held in place flush or flat against the surface of the building. The term excludes a painting or work placed on a structure that is erected for the sole or primary purpose of signage.
(31) “Zoning category” means the designation under the land development regulations or other similar ordinance enacted to regulate the use of land as provided in s. 163.3202(2)(b), which designation sets forth the allowable uses, restrictions, and limitations on use applicable to properties within the category.
History.s. 1, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 1, ch. 65-397; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 175, ch. 71-377; s. 1, ch. 71-971; s. 1, ch. 75-202; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 1, ch. 78-8; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 1, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 6, ch. 90-136; s. 67, ch. 91-220; s. 4, ch. 91-429; ss. 6, 50, ch. 93-164; s. 32, ch. 94-237; ss. 37, 120, ch. 99-385; s. 28, ch. 2000-266; s. 61, ch. 2007-196; s. 21, ch. 2009-85; s. 38, ch. 2010-225; s. 38, ch. 2011-4; s. 94, ch. 2012-174.
479.015 Legislative intent with respect to regulation of signs in areas adjacent to state highways.The control of signs in areas adjacent to the highways of this state is declared to be necessary to protect the public investment in the state highways; to attract visitors to this state by conserving the natural beauty of the state; to preserve and promote the recreational value of public travel; to assure that information in the specific interest of the traveling public is presented safely and aesthetically; to enhance the economic well-being of the state by promoting tourist-oriented businesses, such as public accommodations, vehicle services, attractions, campgrounds, parks, and recreational areas; and to promote points of scenic, historic, cultural, and educational interest.
History.ss. 2, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.02 Duties of the department.It shall be the duty of the department to:
(1) Administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter and the agreement between the state and the United States Department of Transportation relating to the size, lighting, and spacing of signs in accordance with Title I of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and Title 23, United States Code, and federal regulations in effect as of the effective date of this act.
(2) Regulate size, height, lighting, and spacing of signs permitted in zoned and unzoned commercial areas and zoned and unzoned industrial areas on the interstate highway system and the federal-aid primary highway system.
(3) Determine unzoned commercial areas and unzoned industrial areas.
(4) Implement a specific information panel program on the interstate highway system to promote tourist-oriented businesses by providing directional information safely and aesthetically.
(5) Implement a rest area information panel or devices program at rest areas along the interstate highway system and the federal-aid primary highway system to promote tourist-oriented businesses.
(6) Test and, if economically feasible, implement alternative methods of providing information in the specific interest of the traveling public which allow the traveling public freedom of choice, conserve natural beauty, and present information safely and aesthetically.
(7) Adopt such rules as it deems necessary or proper for the administration of this chapter, including rules which identify activities that may not be recognized as industrial or commercial activities for purposes of determination of an area as an unzoned commercial or industrial area.
(8) Prior to July 1, 1998, inventory and determine the location of all signs on the state, interstate and federal-aid primary highway systems. Upon completion of the inventory, it shall become the database and permit information for all signs permitted at the time of completion, and the previous records of the department shall be amended accordingly. The inventory shall be updated no less than every 2 years. The department shall adopt rules regarding what information is to be collected and preserved to implement the purposes of this chapter. The department may perform the inventory using department staff, or may contract with a private firm to perform the work, whichever is more cost efficient. The department shall maintain a database of sign inventory information such as sign location, size, height, and structure type, the permitholder’s name, and any other information the department finds necessary to administer the program.
History.s. 2, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 2, ch. 71-971; s. 1, ch. 72-274; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 2, ch. 78-8; s. 134, ch. 79-164; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 3, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 33, ch. 94-237; s. 1, ch. 96-201.
479.03 Jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation; entry upon privately owned lands.The territory under the jurisdiction of the department for the purpose of this chapter shall include all the state. Employees, agents, or independent contractors working for the department, in the performance of their functions and duties under the provisions of this chapter, may enter into and upon any land upon which a sign is displayed, is proposed to be erected, or is being erected and make such inspections, surveys, and removals as may be relevant. After receiving consent by the landowner, operator, or person in charge or appropriate inspection warrant issued by a judge of any county court or circuit court of this state which has jurisdiction of the place or thing to be removed, that the removal of an illegal outdoor advertising sign is necessary, the department shall be authorized to enter upon any intervening privately owned lands for the purposes of effectuating removal of illegal signs, provided that the department shall only do so in circumstances where it has determined that no other legal or economically feasible means of entry to the sign site are reasonably available. Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, the department shall be responsible for the repair or replacement in a like manner for any physical damage or destruction of private property, other than the sign, incidental to the department’s entry upon such intervening privately owned lands.
History.s. 3, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 4, ch. 71-971; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 4, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 36, ch. 94-237.
479.04 Business of outdoor advertising; license requirement; renewal; fees.
(1) No person shall engage in the business of outdoor advertising in this state without first obtaining a license therefor from the department. Such license shall be renewed annually. The fee for such license, and for each annual renewal, is $300. License renewal fees shall be payable as provided for in s. 479.07.
(2) No person shall be required to obtain the license provided for in this section to erect outdoor advertising signs or structures as an incidental part of a building construction contract.
History.s. 4, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 1, ch. 26959, 1951; s. 1, ch. 63-237; s. 5, ch. 67-461; s. 1, ch. 69-331; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 1, ch. 78-138; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 5, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 37, ch. 94-237.
479.05 Denial or revocation of license.The department has authority to deny or revoke any license requested or granted under this chapter in any case in which it determines that the application for the license contains knowingly false or misleading information or that the licensee has violated any of the provisions of this chapter, unless such licensee, within 30 days after the receipt of notice by the department, corrects such false or misleading information or complies with the provisions of this chapter. Any person aggrieved by any action of the department in denying or revoking a license under this chapter may, within 30 days from the receipt of the notice, apply to the department for an administrative hearing pursuant to chapter 120.
History.s. 4, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 17, ch. 63-512; s. 5, ch. 67-461; s. 1, ch. 69-267; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 56, ch. 78-95; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 6, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.07 Sign permits.
(1) Except as provided in ss. 479.105(1)(e) and 479.16, a person may not erect, operate, use, or maintain, or cause to be erected, operated, used, or maintained, any sign on the State Highway System outside an urban area, as defined in s. 334.03(31), or on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system without first obtaining a permit for the sign from the department and paying the annual fee as provided in this section. As used in this section, the term “on any portion of the State Highway System, interstate, or federal-aid primary system” means a sign located within the controlled area which is visible from any portion of the main-traveled way of such system.
(2) A person may not apply for a permit unless he or she has first obtained the written permission of the owner or other person in lawful possession or control of the site designated as the location of the sign in the application for the permit.
(3)(a) An application for a sign permit must be made on a form prescribed by the department, and a separate application must be submitted for each permit requested. A permit is required for each sign facing.
(b) As part of the application, the applicant or his or her authorized representative must certify in a notarized signed statement that all information provided in the application is true and correct and that, pursuant to subsection (2), he or she has obtained the written permission of the owner or other person in lawful possession of the site designated as the location of the sign in the permit application. Every permit application must be accompanied by the appropriate permit fee; a signed statement by the owner or other person in lawful control of the site on which the sign is located or will be erected, authorizing the placement of the sign on that site; and, where local governmental regulation of signs exists, a statement from the appropriate local governmental official indicating that the sign complies with all local governmental requirements and that the agency or unit of local government will issue a permit to that applicant upon approval of the state permit application by the department.
(c) The annual permit fee for each sign facing shall be established by the department by rule in an amount sufficient to offset the total cost to the department for the program, but shall not exceed $100. A fee may not be prorated for a period less than the remainder of the permit year to accommodate short-term publicity features; however, a first-year fee may be prorated by payment of an amount equal to one-fourth of the annual fee for each remaining whole quarter or partial quarter of the permit year. Applications received after the end of the third quarter of the permit year must include fees for the last quarter of the current year and fees for the succeeding year.
(4) An application for a permit shall be acted on by the department within 30 days after receipt of the application by the department.
(5)(a) For each permit issued, the department shall furnish to the applicant a serially numbered permanent metal permit tag. The permittee is responsible for maintaining a valid permit tag on each permitted sign facing at all times. The tag shall be securely attached to the sign facing or, if there is no facing, on the pole nearest the highway; and it shall be attached in such a manner as to be plainly visible from the main-traveled way. Effective July 1, 2012, the tag must be securely attached to the upper 50 percent of the pole nearest the highway and must be attached in such a manner as to be plainly visible from the main-traveled way. The permit becomes void unless the permit tag is properly and permanently displayed at the permitted site within 30 days after the date of permit issuance. If the permittee fails to erect a completed sign on the permitted site within 270 days after the date on which the permit was issued, the permit will be void, and the department may not issue a new permit to that permittee for the same location for 270 days after the date on which the permit became void.
(b) If a permit tag is lost, stolen, or destroyed, the permittee to whom the tag was issued must apply to the department for a replacement tag. The department shall adopt a rule establishing a service fee for replacement tags in an amount that will recover the actual cost of providing the replacement tag. Upon receipt of the application accompanied by the service fee, the department shall issue a replacement permit tag. Alternatively, the permittee may provide its own replacement tag pursuant to department specifications that the department shall adopt by rule at the time it establishes the service fee for replacement tags.
(6) A permit is valid only for the location specified in the permit. Valid permits may be transferred from one sign owner to another upon written acknowledgment from the current permittee and submittal of a transfer fee of $5 for each permit to be transferred. However, the maximum transfer fee for any multiple transfer between two outdoor advertisers in a single transaction is $100.
(7) A permittee shall at all times maintain the permission of the owner or other person in lawful control of the sign site to have and maintain a sign at such site.
(8)(a) In order to reduce peak workloads, the department may adopt rules providing for staggered expiration dates for licenses and permits. Unless otherwise provided for by rule, all licenses and permits expire annually on January 15. All license and permit renewal fees are required to be submitted to the department by no later than the expiration date. At least 105 days prior to the expiration date of licenses and permits, the department shall send to each permittee a notice of fees due for all licenses and permits which were issued to him or her prior to the date of the notice. Such notice shall list the permits and the permit fees due for each sign facing. The permittee shall, no later than 45 days prior to the expiration date, advise the department of any additions, deletions, or errors contained in the notice. Permit tags which are not renewed shall be returned to the department for cancellation by the expiration date. Permits which are not renewed or are canceled shall be certified in writing at that time as canceled or not renewed by the permittee, and permit tags for such permits shall be returned to the department or shall be accounted for by the permittee in writing, which writing shall be submitted with the renewal fee payment or the cancellation certification. However, failure of a permittee to submit a permit cancellation shall not affect the nonrenewal of a permit. Prior to cancellation of a permit, the permittee shall provide written notice to all persons or entities having a right to advertise on the sign that the permittee intends to cancel the permit.
(b) If a permittee has not submitted his or her fee payment by the expiration date of the licenses or permits, the department shall send a notice of violation to the permittee within 45 days after the expiration date, requiring the payment of the permit fee within 30 days after the date of the notice and payment of a delinquency fee equal to 10 percent of the original amount due or, in the alternative to these payments, requiring the filing of a request for an administrative hearing to show cause why his or her sign should not be subject to immediate removal due to expiration of his or her license or permit. If the permittee submits payment as required by the violation notice, his or her license or permit will be automatically reinstated and such reinstatement will be retroactive to the original expiration date. If the permittee does not respond to the notice of violation within the 30-day period, the department shall, within 30 days, issue a final notice of sign removal and may, following 90 days after the date of the department’s final notice of sign removal, remove the sign without incurring any liability as a result of such removal. However, if at any time before removal of the sign, the permittee demonstrates that a good faith error on the part of the permittee resulted in cancellation or nonrenewal of the permit, the department may reinstate the permit if:
1. The permit reinstatement fee of up to $300 based on the size of the sign is paid;
2. All other permit renewal and delinquent permit fees due as of the reinstatement date are paid; and
3. The permittee reimburses the department for all actual costs resulting from the permit cancellation or nonrenewal.
(c) Conflicting applications filed by other persons for the same or competing sites covered by a permit subject to paragraph (b) may not be approved until after the sign subject to the expired permit has been removed.
(d) The cost for removing a sign, whether by the department or an independent contractor, shall be assessed by the department against the permittee.
(9)(a) A permit shall not be granted for any sign for which a permit had not been granted by the effective date of this act unless such sign is located at least:
1. One thousand five hundred feet from any other permitted sign on the same side of the highway, if on an interstate highway.
2. One thousand feet from any other permitted sign on the same side of the highway, if on a federal-aid primary highway.

The minimum spacing provided in this paragraph does not preclude the permitting of V-type, back-to-back, side-to-side, stacked, or double-faced signs at the permitted sign site. If a sign is visible from the controlled area of more than one highway subject to the jurisdiction of the department, the sign shall meet the permitting requirements of, and, if the sign meets the applicable permitting requirements, be permitted to, the highway having the more stringent permitting requirements.

(b) A permit shall not be granted for a sign pursuant to this chapter to locate such sign on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system, which sign:
1. Exceeds 50 feet in sign structure height above the crown of the main-traveled way, if outside an incorporated area;
2. Exceeds 65 feet in sign structure height above the crown of the main-traveled way, if inside an incorporated area; or
3. Exceeds 950 square feet of sign facing including all embellishments.
(c) Notwithstanding subparagraph (a)1., there is established a pilot program in Orange, Hillsborough, and Osceola Counties, and within the boundaries of the City of Miami, under which the distance between permitted signs on the same side of an interstate highway may be reduced to 1,000 feet if all other requirements of this chapter are met and if:
1. The local government has adopted a plan, program, resolution, ordinance, or other policy encouraging the voluntary removal of signs in a downtown, historic, redevelopment, infill, or other designated area which also provides for a new or replacement sign to be erected on an interstate highway within that jurisdiction if a sign in the designated area is removed;
2. The sign owner and the local government mutually agree to the terms of the removal and replacement; and
3. The local government notifies the department of its intention to allow such removal and replacement as agreed upon pursuant to subparagraph 2.
4. The new or replacement sign to be erected on an interstate highway within that jurisdiction is to be located on a parcel of land specifically designated for commercial or industrial use under both the future land use map of the comprehensive plan and the land use development regulations adopted pursuant to chapter 163, and such parcel shall not be subject to an evaluation in accordance with the criteria set forth in s. 479.01(26) to determine if the parcel can be considered an unzoned commercial or industrial area.

The department shall maintain statistics tracking the use of the provisions of this pilot program based on the notifications received by the department from local governments under this paragraph.

(d) This subsection does not cause a sign that was conforming on October 1, 1984, to become nonconforming.
(10) Commercial or industrial zoning which is not comprehensively enacted or which is enacted primarily to permit signs shall not be recognized as commercial or industrial zoning for purposes of this provision, and permits shall not be issued for signs in such areas. The department shall adopt rules within 180 days after this act takes effect which shall provide criteria to determine whether such zoning is comprehensively enacted or enacted primarily to permit signs.
History.s. 6, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 1, ch. 61-151; s. 2, ch. 63-237; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 427, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 74-80; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 2, ch. 78-138; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 7, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 74, ch. 85-81; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 51, ch. 93-164; s. 38, ch. 94-237; s. 63, ch. 95-257; s. 2, ch. 96-201; s. 1120, ch. 97-103; s. 38, ch. 99-385; s. 7, ch. 2007-66; s. 22, ch. 2009-85; s. 39, ch. 2010-225; s. 95, ch. 2012-174.
479.08 Denial or revocation of permit.The department may deny or revoke any permit requested or granted under this chapter in any case in which it determines that the application for the permit contains knowingly false or misleading information. The department may revoke any permit granted under this chapter in any case in which the permittee has violated any of the provisions of this chapter, unless such permittee, within 30 days after the receipt of notice by the department, complies with the provisions of this chapter. For the purpose of this section, the notice of violation issued by the department must describe in detail the alleged violation. Any person aggrieved by any action of the department in denying or revoking a permit under this chapter may, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, apply to the department for an administrative hearing pursuant to chapter 120. If a timely request for hearing has been filed and the department issues a final order revoking a permit, such revocation shall be effective 30 days after the date of rendition. Except for department action pursuant to s. 479.107(1), the filing of a timely and proper notice of appeal shall operate to stay the revocation until the department’s action is upheld.
History.s. 6, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 17, ch. 63-512; s. 5, ch. 67-461; s. 1, ch. 69-267; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 8, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 40, ch. 94-237; s. 23, ch. 2009-85.
479.10 Sign removal following permit revocation.A sign shall be removed by the permittee within 30 days after the date of revocation of the permit for the sign. If the permittee fails to remove the sign within the 30-day period, the department shall remove the sign without further notice and without incurring any liability as a result of such removal.
History.s. 8, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 428, ch. 71-136; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 9, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.105 Signs erected or maintained without required permit; removal.
(1) Any sign which is located adjacent to the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System outside an incorporated area or adjacent to the right-of-way on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system, which sign was erected, operated, or maintained without the permit required by s. 479.07(1) having been issued by the department, is declared to be a public nuisance and a private nuisance and shall be removed as provided in this section.
(a) Upon a determination by the department that a sign is in violation of s. 479.07(1), the department shall prominently post on the sign face a notice stating that the sign is illegal and must be removed within 30 days after the date on which the notice was posted. However, if the sign bears the name of the licensee or the name and address of the nonlicensed sign owner, the department shall, concurrently with and in addition to posting the notice on the sign, provide a written notice to the owner, stating that the sign is illegal and must be permanently removed within the 30-day period specified on the posted notice. The written notice shall further state that the sign owner has a right to request a hearing, which request must be filed with the department within 30 days after the date of the written notice. However, the filing of a request for a hearing will not stay the removal of the sign.
(b) If, pursuant to the notice provided, the sign is not removed by the sign owner within the prescribed period, the department shall immediately remove the sign without further notice; and, for that purpose, the employees, agents, or independent contractors of the department may enter upon private property without incurring any liability for so entering.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, a notice to the sign owner, when required, constitutes sufficient notice; and notice is not required to be provided to the lessee, advertiser, or the owner of the real property on which the sign is located.
(d) If, after a hearing, it is determined that a sign has been wrongfully or erroneously removed pursuant to this subsection, the department, at the sign owner’s discretion, shall either pay just compensation to the owner of the sign or reerect the sign in kind at the expense of the department.
(e) However, if the sign owner demonstrates to the department that:
1. The sign has been unpermitted, structurally unchanged, and continuously maintained at the same location for a period of 7 years or more;
2. At any time during the period in which the sign has been erected, the sign would have met the criteria established in this chapter for issuance of a permit;
3. The department has not initiated a notice of violation or taken other action to remove the sign during the initial 7-year period described in subparagraph 1.; and
4. The department determines that the sign is not located on state right-of-way and is not a safety hazard,

the sign may be considered a conforming or nonconforming sign and may be issued a permit by the department upon application in accordance with this chapter and payment of a penalty fee of $300 and all pertinent fees required by this chapter, including annual permit renewal fees payable since the date of the erection of the sign.

(2)(a) If a sign is under construction and the department determines that a permit has not been issued for the sign as required under the provisions of this chapter, the department is authorized to require that all work on the sign cease until the sign owner shows that the sign does not violate the provisions of this chapter. The order to cease work shall be prominently posted on the sign structure, and no further notice is required to be given. The failure of a sign owner or her or his agents to immediately comply with the order shall subject the sign to prompt removal by the department.
(b) For the purposes of this subsection only, a sign is under construction when it is in any phase of initial construction prior to the attachment and display of the advertising message in final position for viewing by the traveling public. A sign that is undergoing routine maintenance or change of the advertising message only is not considered to be under construction for the purposes of this subsection.
(3) The cost of removing a sign, whether by the department or an independent contractor, shall be assessed against the owner of the sign by the department.
History.ss. 10, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 64, ch. 95-257; s. 3, ch. 96-201; s. 1121, ch. 97-103.
479.106 Vegetation management.
(1) The removal, cutting, or trimming of trees or vegetation on public right-of-way to make visible or to ensure future visibility of the facing of a proposed sign or previously permitted sign shall be performed only with the written permission of the department in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Any person desiring to engage in the removal, cutting, or trimming of trees or vegetation for the purposes herein described shall make written application to the department. The application shall include the applicant’s plan for the removal, cutting, or trimming and for the management of any vegetation planted as part of a mitigation plan.
(3) As a condition of any removal of trees or vegetation, and where the department deems appropriate as a condition of any cutting or trimming, the department may require a vegetation management plan, approved by the department, which considers conservation and mitigation, or contribution to a plan of mitigation, for the replacement of such vegetation. Each plan or contribution shall reasonably relate to the vegetation being affected by the application and, where appropriate, shall include plantings which will allow reasonable visibility of sign facings while screening sign structural supports. The department may establish special mitigation programs for the beautification and aesthetic improvement of designated areas and permit individual applicants to contribute to such programs as a part or in lieu of other mitigation requirements.
(4) The department may establish an application fee not to exceed $25 for each individual application to defer the costs of processing such application and a fee not to exceed $200 to defer the costs of processing an application for multiple sites.
(5) The department may only grant a permit pursuant to s. 479.07 for a new sign which requires the removal, cutting, or trimming of existing trees or vegetation on public right-of-way for the sign face to be visible from the highway when the sign owner has removed at least two nonconforming signs of approximate comparable size and surrendered the permits for the nonconforming signs to the department for cancellation. For signs originally permitted after July 1, 1996, no permit for the removal, cutting, or trimming of trees or vegetation shall be granted where such trees or vegetation are part of a beautification project implemented prior to the date of the original sign permit application, when the beautification project is specifically identified in the department’s construction plans, permitted landscape projects, or agreements.
(6) Beautification projects, trees, or other vegetation shall not be planted or located in the view zone of legally erected and permitted outdoor advertising signs which have been permitted prior to the date of the beautification project or other planting, where such planting will, at the time of planting or after future growth, screen such sign from view.
(a) View zones are established along the public rights-of-way of interstate highways, expressways, federal-aid primary highways, and the State Highway System in the state, excluding privately or other publicly owned property, as follows:
1. A view zone of 350 feet for posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.
2. A view zone of 500 feet for posted speed limits of over 35 miles per hour.
(b) The established view zone shall be within the first 1,000 feet measured along the edge of the pavement in the direction of approaching traffic from a point on the edge of the pavement perpendicular to the edge of the sign facing nearest the highway and shall be continuous unless interrupted by existing, naturally occurring vegetation. The department and the sign owner may enter into an agreement identifying the specific location of the view zone for each sign facing. In the absence of such agreement, the established view zone shall be measured from the sign along the edge of the pavement in the direction of approaching traffic as provided in this subsection.
(c) If a sign owner alleges any governmental entity or other party has violated this subsection, the sign owner must provide 90 days’ written notice to the governmental entity or other party allegedly violating this subsection. If the alleged violation is not cured by the governmental entity or other party within the 90-day period, the sign owner may file a claim in the circuit court where the sign is located. A copy of such complaint shall be served contemporaneously upon the governmental entity or other party. If the circuit court determines a violation of this subsection has occurred, the court shall award a claim for compensation equal to the lesser of the revenue from the sign lost during the time of screening or the fair market value of the sign, and the governmental entity or other party shall pay the award of compensation subject to available appeal. Any modification or removal of material within a beautification project or other planting by the governmental entity or other party to cure an alleged violation shall not require the issuance of a permit from the Department of Transportation provided not less than 48 hours’ notice is provided to the department of the modification or removal of the material. A natural person, private corporation, or private partnership licensed under part II of chapter 481 providing design services for beautification or other projects shall not be subject to a claim of compensation under this section when the initial project design meets the requirements of this section.
(d) This subsection shall not apply to the provisions of any existing written agreement executed before July 1, 2006, between any local government and the owner of an outdoor advertising sign.
(7) Any person engaging in removal, cutting, or trimming of trees or vegetation in violation of this section or benefiting from such actions shall be subject to an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 and required to mitigate for the unauthorized removal, cutting, or trimming in such manner and in such amount as may be required under the rules of the department.
(8) The intent of this section is to create partnering relationships which will have the effect of improving the appearance of Florida’s highways and creating a net increase in the vegetative habitat along the roads. Department rules shall encourage the use of plants which are low maintenance and native to the general region in which they are planted.
History.s. 4, ch. 96-201; s. 1, ch. 2006-249.
479.107 Signs on highway rights-of-way; removal.
(1) Any sign located on the right-of-way of a highway on the State Highway System or on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system which is in violation of s. 479.11(8) may be removed by the department as provided in this section. However, a permittee of a sign which is located on the right-of-way in violation of s. 479.11(8) and for which sign a permit has been issued under the provisions of this chapter must be given notice in accordance with s. 479.08. Upon a determination by the department that a sign is in violation of s. 479.11(8), the department shall prominently post on the sign structure a notice visible from the main-traveled way stating that the sign is illegal and must be permanently removed from the right-of-way within 10 working days after the posting of the notice. However, if the sign bears the name of the licensee or the name and address of the nonlicensed sign owner, the department shall, concurrently with and in addition to posting the notice on the sign, provide written notice to the owner, stating that the sign is illegal and must be permanently removed from the right-of-way within the 10-day period specified on the posted notice and that the owner has a right to request a hearing, which request must be filed with the department within 30 days after the date of the notice. However, the request for a hearing will not stay the removal of the sign. If, pursuant to the notice provided, the sign is not removed from the right-of-way by the owner within the prescribed period, then the department shall immediately remove the sign without further notice.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), the department is authorized to remove, without notice, any sign on the right-of-way which it determines to be a safety hazard to the traveling public or any unpermitted sign on the right-of-way.
(3) If a sign that has been noticed pursuant to this section is returned to the right-of-way, the department shall immediately remove the sign without further notice.
(4) If after a hearing, it is determined that a sign has been wrongfully or erroneously removed pursuant to this section, the department, at the sign owner’s discretion, shall either pay just compensation to the owner of the sign or reerect the sign in kind at the same location at the expense of the department.
(5) The cost of removing a sign, whether by the department or an independent contractor, shall be assessed by the department against the owner of the sign. Furthermore, the department shall assess a fine of $75 against the sign owner for any sign which violates the requirements of this section.
History.ss. 11, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 60, ch. 87-225; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 39, ch. 94-237.
479.11 Specified signs prohibited.No sign shall be erected, used, operated, or maintained:
(1) Within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any portion of the interstate highway system or the federal-aid primary highway system, except as provided in ss. 479.111 and 479.16.
(2) Beyond 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any portion of the interstate highway system or the federal-aid primary highway system outside an urban area, which sign is erected for the purpose of its message being read from the main-traveled way of such system, except as provided in ss. 479.111(1) and 479.16.
(3) Within 15 feet of the outside boundary of the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System outside of an incorporated area or on the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system outside an incorporated area.
(4) Within 100 feet of any church, school, cemetery, public park, public reservation, public playground, or state or national forest, when such facility is located outside of an incorporated area, except as provided in s. 479.16.
(5)(a) Which displays intermittent lights not embodied in the sign, or any rotating or flashing light within 100 feet of the outside boundary of the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system or which is illuminated in such a manner so as to cause glare or to impair the vision of motorists or otherwise distract motorists so as to interfere with the motorists’ ability to safely operate their vehicles.
(b) If the sign is on the premises of an establishment as provided in s. 479.16(1), the local government authority with jurisdiction over the location of the sign shall enforce the provisions of this section as provided in chapter 162 and this section.
(6) Which uses the word “stop” or “danger,” or presents or implies the need or requirement of stopping or the existence of danger, or which is a copy or imitation of official signs, and which is adjacent to the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system.
(7) Which is placed on the inside of a curve or in any manner that may prevent persons using the highway from obtaining an unobstructed view of approaching vehicles and which is adjacent to the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system.
(8) Which is located upon the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system.
(9) Which is nailed, fastened, or affixed to any tree or is erected or maintained in an unsafe, insecure, or unsightly condition and which is adjacent to the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System outside of an incorporated area or on any portion of the interstate highway system or the federal-aid primary highway system.
(10) Which is on a new highway outside an urban area and otherwise would have been subject to the permit requirements of this chapter.
History.s. 9, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 3, ch. 26959, 1951; s. 1, ch. 31413, 1956; s. 1, ch. 57-282; s. 2, ch. 61-151; s. 5, ch. 71-971; s. 2, ch. 75-202; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 12, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 44, ch. 94-237; s. 32, ch. 95-257; s. 4, ch. 2012-83.
479.111 Specified signs allowed within controlled portions of the interstate and federal-aid primary highway system.Only the following signs shall be allowed within controlled portions of the interstate highway system and the federal-aid primary highway system as set forth in s. 479.11(1) and (2):
(1) Directional or other official signs and notices which conform to 23 C.F.R. ss. 750.151-750.155.
(2) Signs in commercial-zoned and industrial-zoned areas or commercial-unzoned and industrial-unzoned areas and within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way, subject to the requirements set forth in the agreement between the state and the United States Department of Transportation.
(3) Signs for which permits are not required under s. 479.16.
History.s. 6, ch. 71-971; s. 3, ch. 75-202; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 3, ch. 78-8; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 13, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 75, ch. 85-81; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.12 Outdoor advertising on highways.Any person who willfully or maliciously displaces, removes, destroys or injures a mileboard, milestone, danger sign, signal, guide sign, guidepost, highway sign, or historical marker or any inscription thereon, lawfully within or adjacent to a highway, or who in any manner paints, prints, places, puts or affixes any advertisement upon or to any rock, stone, tree, fence, stump, pole, mileboard, milestone, danger sign, guide sign, guidepost, highway sign, historical marker, buildings, barns or other object lawfully within the limits of any highway, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 10, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 429, ch. 71-136; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.14 Disposition of fees.All moneys received by the department under the provisions of this chapter shall be paid by it into the State Treasury and placed in the State Transportation Trust Fund for use in the administration of this chapter.
History.s. 12, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 2, ch. 61-119; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; ss. 2, 3, ch. 73-57; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 14, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 5, ch. 96-201.
479.15 Harmony of regulations.
(1) No zoning board or commission or other public officer or agency shall issue a permit to erect any sign which is prohibited under the provisions of this chapter or the rules of the department, nor shall the department issue a permit for any sign which is prohibited by any other public board, officer, or agency in the lawful exercise of its powers.
(2) A municipality, county, local zoning authority, or other local governmental entity may not remove, or cause to be removed, any lawfully erected sign along any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system without first paying just compensation for such removal. A local governmental entity may not cause in any way the alteration of any lawfully erected sign located along any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system without payment of just compensation if such alteration constitutes a taking under state law. The municipality, county, local zoning authority, or other local government entity that adopts requirements for such alteration shall pay just compensation to the sign owner if such alteration constitutes a taking under state law. This subsection applies only to a lawfully erected sign the subject matter of which relates to premises other than the premises on which it is located or to merchandise, services, activities, or entertainment not sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished on the premises on which the sign is located. As used in this subsection, the term “federal-aid primary highway system” means the federal-aid primary highway system in existence on June 1, 1991, and any highway that was not a part of such system as of that date but that is or becomes after June 1, 1991, a part of the National Highway System. This subsection shall not be interpreted as explicit or implicit legislative recognition that alterations do or do not constitute a taking under state law.
(3) It is the express intent of the Legislature to limit the state right-of-way acquisition costs on state and federal roads in eminent domain proceedings, the provisions of ss. 479.07 and 479.155 notwithstanding. Subject to approval by the Federal Highway Administration, whenever public acquisition of land upon which is situated a lawful nonconforming sign occurs, as provided in this chapter, the sign may, at the election of its owner and the department, be relocated or reconstructed adjacent to the new right-of-way along the roadway within 100 feet of the current location, provided the nonconforming sign is not relocated on a parcel zoned residential, and provided further that such relocation shall be subject to applicable setback requirements. The sign owner shall pay all costs associated with relocating or reconstructing any sign under this subsection, and neither the state nor any local government shall reimburse the sign owner for such costs, unless part of such relocation costs are required by federal law. If no adjacent property is available for the relocation, the department shall be responsible for paying the owner of the sign just compensation for its removal.
(4) Such relocation shall be adjacent to the current site and the face of the sign shall not be increased in size or height or structurally modified at the point of relocation in a manner inconsistent with the current building codes of the jurisdiction in which the sign is located.
(5) In the event that relocation can be accomplished but is inconsistent with the ordinances of the municipality or county within whose jurisdiction the sign is located, the ordinances of the local government shall prevail, provided that the local government shall assume the responsibility to provide the owner of the sign just compensation for its removal, but in no event shall compensation paid by the local government exceed the compensation required under state or federal law. Further, the provisions of this section shall not impair any agreement or future agreements between a municipality or county and the owner of a sign or signs within the jurisdiction of the municipality or county. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to cause a nonconforming sign to become conforming solely as a result of the relocation allowed in this section.
(6) The provisions of subsections (3), (4), and (5) of this section shall not apply within the jurisdiction of any municipality which is engaged in any litigation concerning its sign ordinance on April 23, 1999, nor shall such provisions apply to any municipality whose boundaries are identical to the county within which said municipality is located.
History.s. 13, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 74-273; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 15, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 41, ch. 94-237; s. 65, ch. 99-385; s. 5, ch. 2002-13.
479.155 Local outdoor advertising or sign ordinances.The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to supersede the rights and powers of counties and municipalities to enact outdoor advertising or sign ordinances.
History.s. 4, ch. 78-138; s. 2, ch. 81-318; ss. 16, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.156 Wall murals.Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a municipality or county may permit and regulate wall murals within areas designated by such government. If a municipality or county permits wall murals, a wall mural that displays a commercial message and is within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way within an area adjacent to the interstate highway system or the federal-aid primary highway system shall be located in an area that is zoned for industrial or commercial use and the municipality or county shall establish and enforce regulations for such areas that, at a minimum, set forth criteria governing the size, lighting, and spacing of wall murals consistent with the intent of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and with customary use. Whenever a municipality or county exercises such control and makes a determination of customary use pursuant to 23 U.S.C. s. 131(d), such determination shall be accepted in lieu of controls in the agreement between the state and the United States Department of Transportation, and the department shall notify the Federal Highway Administration pursuant to the agreement, 23 U.S.C. s. 131(d), and 23 C.F.R. s. 750.706(c). A wall mural that is subject to municipal or county regulation and the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 must be approved by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration when required by federal law and federal regulation under the agreement between the state and the United States Department of Transportation and federal regulations enforced by the Department of Transportation under s. 479.02(1). The existence of a wall mural as defined in s. 479.01(30) shall not be considered in determining whether a sign as defined in s. 479.01(20), either existing or new, is in compliance with s. 479.07(9)(a).
History.s. 62, ch. 2007-196; s. 24, ch. 2009-85; s. 48, ch. 2010-225.
479.16 Signs for which permits are not required.The following signs are exempt from the requirement that a permit for a sign be obtained under the provisions of this chapter but are required to comply with the provisions of s. 479.11(4)-(8):
(1) Signs erected on the premises of an establishment, which signs consist primarily of the name of the establishment or which identify the principal or accessory merchandise, services, activities, or entertainment sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished on the premises of the establishment and which comply with the lighting restrictions under department rule adopted pursuant to s. 479.11(5), or signs owned by a municipality or a county located on the premises of such municipality or such county which display information regarding government services, activities, events, or entertainment. For purposes of this section, the following types of messages shall not be considered information regarding government services, activities, events, or entertainment:
(a) Messages which specifically reference any commercial enterprise.
(b) Messages which reference a commercial sponsor of any event.
(c) Personal messages.
(d) Political campaign messages.

If a sign located on the premises of an establishment consists principally of brand name or trade name advertising and the merchandise or service is only incidental to the principal activity, or if the owner of the establishment receives rental income from the sign, then the sign is not exempt under this subsection.

(2) Signs erected, used, or maintained on a farm by the owner or lessee of such farm and relating solely to farm produce, merchandise, service, or entertainment sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished on such farm.
(3) Signs posted or displayed on real property by the owner or by the authority of the owner, stating that the real property is for sale or rent. However, if the sign contains any message not pertaining to the sale or rental of that real property, then it is not exempt under this section.
(4) Official notices or advertisements posted or displayed on private property by or under the direction of any public or court officer in the performance of her or his official or directed duties, or by trustees under deeds of trust or deeds of assignment or other similar instruments.
(5) Danger or precautionary signs relating to the premises on which they are located; forest fire warning signs erected under the authority of the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and signs, notices, or symbols erected by the United States Government under the direction of the United States Forestry Service.
(6) Notices of any railroad, bridge, ferry, or other transportation or transmission company necessary for the direction or safety of the public.
(7) Signs, notices, or symbols for the information of aviators as to location, directions, and landings and conditions affecting safety in aviation erected or authorized by the department.
(8) Signs or notices erected or maintained upon property stating only the name of the owner, lessee, or occupant of the premises and not exceeding 8 square feet in area.
(9) Historical markers erected by duly constituted and authorized public authorities.
(10) Official traffic control signs and markers erected, caused to be erected, or approved by the department.
(11) Signs erected upon property warning the public against hunting and fishing or trespassing thereon.
(12) Signs not in excess of 8 square feet that are owned by and relate to the facilities and activities of churches, civic organizations, fraternal organizations, charitable organizations, or units or agencies of government.
(13) Except that signs placed on benches, transit shelters, and waste receptacles as provided for in s. 337.408 are exempt from all provisions of this chapter.
(14) Signs relating exclusively to political campaigns.
(15) Signs not in excess of 16 square feet placed at a road junction with the State Highway System denoting only the distance or direction of a residence or farm operation, or, in a rural area where a hardship is created because a small business is not visible from the road junction with the State Highway System, one sign not in excess of 16 square feet, denoting only the name of the business and the distance and direction to the business. The small-business-sign provision of this subsection does not apply to charter counties and may not be implemented if the Federal Government notifies the department that implementation will adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to the department.
History.s. 14, ch. 20446, 1941; s. 4, ch. 26959, 1951; s. 2, ch. 65-397; s. 5, ch. 67-461; ss. 14, 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 7, ch. 71-971; s. 4, ch. 75-202; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 17, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 76, ch. 85-81; s. 1, ch. 88-245; s. 28, ch. 91-220; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 45, ch. 94-237; s. 33, ch. 95-257; s. 1, ch. 97-89; s. 410, ch. 97-103; s. 39, ch. 99-385; s. 29, ch. 2000-266; s. 21, ch. 2012-7.
479.21 Willfully or maliciously removing, destroying, damaging, or altering permitted signs; penalty.Any person who willfully or maliciously removes, damages, destroys, tampers with, or alters in any way a sign for which a permit has been issued under this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 22757, 1945; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 18, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
479.24 Compensation for removal of signs; eminent domain; exceptions.
(1) Just compensation shall be paid by the department upon the department’s removal of a lawful nonconforming sign along any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system. This section does not apply to a sign which is illegal at the time of its removal. A sign will lose its nonconforming status and become illegal at such time as it fails to be permitted or maintained in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, ordinances, or regulations other than the provision which makes it nonconforming. A legal nonconforming sign under state law or rule will not lose its nonconforming status solely because it additionally becomes nonconforming under an ordinance or regulation of a local governmental entity passed at a later date. The department shall make every reasonable effort to negotiate the purchase of the signs to avoid litigation and congestion in the courts.
(2) The department is not required to remove any sign under this section if the federal share of the just compensation to be paid upon removal of the sign is not available to make such payment, unless an appropriation by the Legislature for such purpose is made to the department.
(3)(a) The department is authorized to use the power of eminent domain when necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
(b) If eminent domain procedures are instituted, just compensation shall be made pursuant to the state’s eminent domain procedures, chapters 73 and 74.
History.s. 9, ch. 71-971; s. 5, ch. 75-202; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 19, 25, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 42, ch. 94-237.
479.25 Erection of noise-attenuation barrier blocking view of sign; procedures; application.
(1) The owner of a lawfully erected sign that is governed by and conforms to state and federal requirements for land use, size, height, and spacing may increase the height above ground level of such sign at its permitted location if a noise-attenuation barrier is permitted by or erected by any governmental entity in such a way as to screen or block visibility of the sign. Any increase in height permitted under this section may only be the increase in height which is required to achieve the same degree of visibility from the right-of-way which the sign had prior to the construction of the noise-attenuation barrier, notwithstanding the restrictions contained in s. 479.07(9)(b). A sign reconstructed under this section shall comply with the building standards and wind load requirements set forth in the Florida Building Code. If construction of a proposed noise-attenuation barrier will screen a sign lawfully permitted under this chapter, the department shall provide notice to the local government or local jurisdiction within which the sign is located prior to erection of the noise-attenuation barrier. Upon a determination that an increase in the height of a sign as permitted under this section will violate a provision contained in an ordinance or land development regulation of the local government or local jurisdiction, the local government or local jurisdiction shall so notify the department. When notice has been received from the local government or local jurisdiction prior to erection of the noise-attenuation barrier, the department shall:
(a) Conduct a written survey of all property owners identified as impacted by highway noise and who may benefit from the proposed noise-attenuation barrier. The written survey shall inform the property owners of the location, date, and time of the public hearing described in paragraph (b) and shall specifically advise the impacted property owners that:
1. Erection of the noise-attenuation barrier may block the visibility of an existing outdoor advertising sign;
2. The local government or local jurisdiction may restrict or prohibit increasing the height of the existing outdoor advertising sign to make it visible over the barrier; and
3. If a majority of the impacted property owners vote for construction of the noise-attenuation barrier, the local government or local jurisdiction will be required to:
a. Allow an increase in the height of the sign in violation of a local ordinance or land development regulation;
b. Allow the sign to be relocated or reconstructed at another location if the sign owner agrees; or
c. Pay the fair market value of the sign and its associated interest in the real property.
(b) Hold a public hearing within the boundaries of the affected local governments or local jurisdictions to receive input on the proposed noise-attenuation barrier and its conflict with the local ordinance or land development regulation and to suggest or consider alternatives or modifications to the proposed noise-attenuation barrier to alleviate or minimize the conflict with the local ordinance or land development regulation or minimize any costs that may be associated with relocating, reconstructing, or paying for the affected sign. The public hearing may be held concurrently with other public hearings scheduled for the project. The department shall provide a written notification to the local government or local jurisdiction of the date and time of the public hearing and shall provide general notice of the public hearing in accordance with the notice provisions of s. 335.02(1). The notice shall not be placed in that portion of a newspaper in which legal notices or classified advertisements appear. The notice shall specifically state that:
1. Erection of the proposed noise-attenuation barrier may block the visibility of an existing outdoor advertising sign;
2. The local government or local jurisdiction may restrict or prohibit increasing the height of the existing outdoor advertising sign to make it visible over the barrier; and
3. If a majority of the impacted property owners vote for construction of the noise-attenuation barrier, the local government or local jurisdiction will be required to:
a. Allow an increase in the height of the sign in violation of a local ordinance or land development regulation;
b. Allow the sign to be relocated or reconstructed at another location if the sign owner agrees; or
c. Pay the fair market value of the sign and its associated interest in the real property.
(2) The department shall not permit erection of the noise-attenuation barrier to the extent the barrier screens or blocks visibility of the sign until after the public hearing is held and until such time as the survey has been conducted and a majority of the impacted property owners have indicated approval to erect the noise-attenuation barrier. When the impacted property owners approve of the noise-attenuation barrier construction, the department shall notify the local governments or local jurisdictions. The local government or local jurisdiction shall, notwithstanding the provisions of a conflicting ordinance or land development regulation:
(a) Issue a permit by variance or otherwise for the reconstruction of a sign under this section;
(b) Allow the relocation of a sign, or construction of another sign, at an alternative location that is permittable under the provisions of this chapter, if the sign owner agrees to relocate the sign or construct another sign; or
(c) Refuse to issue the required permits for reconstruction of a sign under this section and pay fair market value of the sign and its associated interest in the real property to the owner of the sign.
(3) This section shall not apply to the provisions of any existing written agreement executed before July 1, 2006, between any local government and the owner of an outdoor advertising sign.
History.s. 6, ch. 2002-13; s. 2, ch. 2006-249.
PART II
SPECIAL PROGRAMS
479.261 Logo sign program.
479.262 Tourist-oriented directional sign program.
479.27 Highway beautification and tourism promotion pilot project.
479.30 Radio advisory program for limited access highways.
479.261 Logo sign program.
(1) The department shall establish a logo sign program for the rights-of-way of the interstate highway system to provide information to motorists about available gas, food, lodging, camping, attractions, and other services, as approved by the Federal Highway Administration, at interchanges through the use of business logos and may include additional interchanges under the program.
(a) As used in this chapter, the term “attraction” means an establishment, site, facility, or landmark that is open a minimum of 5 days a week for 52 weeks a year; that has as its principal focus family-oriented entertainment, cultural, educational, recreational, scientific, or historical activities; and that is publicly recognized as a bona fide tourist attraction.
(b) The department shall incorporate the use of RV-friendly markers on specific information logo signs for establishments that cater to the needs of persons driving recreational vehicles. Establishments that qualify for participation in the specific information logo program and that also qualify as “RV-friendly” may request the RV-friendly marker on their specific information logo sign. An RV-friendly marker must consist of a design approved by the Federal Highway Administration. The department shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 120 to administer this paragraph, including rules setting forth the minimum requirements that establishments must meet in order to qualify as RV-friendly. These requirements shall include large parking spaces, entrances, and exits that can easily accommodate recreational vehicles and facilities having appropriate overhead clearances, if applicable.
(2) The logo sign program may be implemented at qualified interchanges on the interstate highway system. All interchanges with logo signs erected on the effective date of this section are qualified and additional interchanges may be qualified pursuant to this section.
(3) Logo signs may be installed upon the issuance of an annual permit by the department or its agent and payment of a permit fee to the department or its agent.
(4) The department may contract pursuant to s. 287.057 for the provision of services related to the logo sign program, including recruitment and qualification of businesses, review of applications, permit issuance, and fabrication, installation, and maintenance of logo signs. The department may reject all proposals and seek another request for proposals or otherwise perform the work. The contract also may allow the contractor to retain a portion of the annual fees as compensation for its services.
(5) At a minimum, permit fees for businesses that participate in the program must be established in an amount sufficient to offset the total cost to the department for the program, including contract costs. The department shall provide the services in the most efficient and cost-effective manner through department staff or by contracting for some or all of the services. The department shall adopt rules that set reasonable rates based upon factors such as population, traffic volume, market demand, and costs for annual permit fees. However, annual permit fees for sign locations inside an urban area, as defined in s. 334.03(31), may not exceed $3,500, and annual permit fees for sign locations outside an urban area, as defined in s. 334.03(31), may not exceed $2,000. After recovering program costs, the proceeds from the annual permit fees shall be deposited into the State Transportation Trust Fund and used for transportation purposes.
(6) This section does not create a proprietary or compensable interest in any logo sign site or location for any permittee, and the department may terminate permits or change locations of logo sign sites as the department determines necessary for construction or improvement of transportation facilities or for improved traffic control or safety.
(7) The department may adopt rules to establish requirements for qualification and location of logo sign sites, qualification and distance of businesses, permit application and processing, and other criteria necessary to implement this program and to provide for variances when necessary to serve the interest of the traveling public or when required to ensure equitable treatment of program participants. However, the department or its agent may erect logo signs only where spacing requirements allow at least one logo sign structure on the main road, one logo sign structure on the ramp, and all necessary traffic control signs for each direction of travel.
History.s. 6, ch. 96-201; s. 31, ch. 97-280; s. 1, ch. 2005-141; s. 25, ch. 2009-85; s. 5, ch. 2009-89; s. 40, ch. 2010-225; s. 96, ch. 2012-174.
479.262 Tourist-oriented directional sign program.
(1) A tourist-oriented directional sign program to provide directions to rural tourist-oriented businesses, services, and activities may be established in rural counties identified by criteria and population in s. 288.0656 when approved and permitted by county or local government entities within their respective jurisdictional areas at intersections on rural and conventional state, county, or municipal roads. A county or local government which issues permits for a tourist-oriented directional sign program shall be responsible for sign construction, maintenance, and program operation in compliance with subsection (3) for roads on the state highway system and may establish permit fees sufficient to offset associated costs.
(2) This section does not create a proprietary or compensable interest in any tourist-oriented directional sign site or location for any permittee on any rural and conventional state, county, or municipal roads. The department or the permitting entity may terminate permits or change locations of tourist-oriented directional sign sites as determined necessary for construction or improvement of transportation facilities or for improved traffic control or safety.
(3) Tourist-oriented directional signs installed on the state highway system shall comply with the requirements of the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and rules established by the department. The department may adopt rules to establish requirements for participant qualification, construction standards, location of sign sites, and other criteria necessary to implement this program.
History.s. 1, ch. 2007-48.
479.27 Highway beautification and tourism promotion pilot project.
(1) The Legislature finds that Interstate Highway 75 is used extensively by tourists and other visitors to reach their ultimate vacation, recreation, and business destinations in Florida. The Legislature further finds that these tourists and business visitors contribute significantly to the state’s tax revenue base and to general economic growth, and encouraging such visitors to Florida is a public purpose in the best interest of the state’s citizens. It is the intent of the Legislature to establish a program within the Department of Transportation to enhance the scenic and natural beauty of this corridor as a pilot project to give visitors to the state a more favorable impression of Florida and thereby encourage return visits. Consistent with this intent, the department is directed to develop and implement a pilot program based upon the criteria set forth in this section.
(2) The Interstate Highway 75 corridor from the Florida-Georgia state boundary to its intersection with the Florida Turnpike at Wildwood is hereby designated as a highway beautification and tourism promotion pilot project.
(3) The department shall develop a corridor management plan with beautification and tourism promotion goals for the project corridor in accordance with this section. The plan shall, at a minimum, address the following:
(a) Vegetation management to encourage the growth of trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and other native vegetation, with the participation of local governments and private parties or organizations. The department shall establish standards for vegetation management plans to encourage the growth of compatible plants which allow reasonable visibility of sign facings while screening sign structural supports, and to allow for the planting of new trees and vegetation in other locations on the right-of-way to replace plants damaged due to cutting or trimming.
(b) Removal and relocation, through incentive programs, of nonconforming signs along the corridor and designation of areas where signs will be deemed to be conforming and where a sign can be relocated in exchange for the elimination of at least two signs at other locations, and encouragement of joint agreements with local governments to encourage such relocation incentive programs to promote the implementation of the pilot program.
(c) Maximizing the use of the logo program along the corridor, and encouraging the development of other methods, such as radio broadcasts, to communicate tourist and motorist information.
History.s. 7, ch. 96-201; s. 17, ch. 2000-325.
479.30 Radio advisory program for limited access highways.
(1) The department shall test and, if economically feasible, implement a low-frequency radio advisory program on limited access highways. The purpose of the program is to provide an alternative form of advertising for tourist-oriented businesses, to conserve natural beauty, to present information in the specific interest of the traveling public safely and aesthetically, and to provide travelers freedom of choice.
(2) The department may contract with private persons for the operation of each advisory radio or the advisory radio system. The compensation of a contractor shall be derived solely from the reasonable fees which the contractor is permitted to charge participating businesses. The department shall receive from the contractors sufficient revenues to cover the cost of administering the program.
History.ss. 22, 26, ch. 84-227; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
PART III
SIGN REMOVAL
479.310 Unpermitted and illegal signs; intent.
479.311 Jurisdiction; venue.
479.312 Unpermitted signs; cost of removal.
479.313 Permit revocation; cost of removal.
479.315 Highway rights-of-way; cost of sign removal.
479.310 Unpermitted and illegal signs; intent.It is the intent of this part to relieve the department from the financial burden incurred in the removal of unpermitted and illegal signs located within the right-of-way of and controlled areas adjacent to the State Highway System, interstate highway system, and federal-aid primary highway system; to place the financial responsibility for the cost of such removal directly upon those benefiting from the location and operation of such unpermitted and illegal signs; and to provide clear authority to the department for the recovery of cost incurred by the department in the removal of such unpermitted and illegal signs.
History.s. 43, ch. 2010-225.
479.311 Jurisdiction; venue.The county court shall have jurisdiction concurrent with the circuit court to consider claims filed by the department in amounts which are within their jurisdictional limitations. For the purposes of a claim filed by the department to recover its cost as provided in this section, venue shall be Leon County.
History.s. 43, ch. 2010-225.
479.312 Unpermitted signs; cost of removal.All costs incurred by the department in connection with the removal of a sign located within a controlled area adjacent to the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system which has not been issued a permit under part I shall be assessed against and collected from the owner of the sign, the advertiser displayed on the sign, or the owner of the property upon which the sign is located. For the purposes of this section, a sign that does not display the name of the sign owner shall be presumed to be owned by the owner of the property upon which the sign is located.
History.s. 43, ch. 2010-225.
479.313 Permit revocation; cost of removal.All costs incurred by the department in connection with the removal of a sign located within a controlled area adjacent to the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system following the revocation of the permit for such sign shall be assessed against and collected from the permittee.
History.s. 43, ch. 2010-225.
479.315 Highway rights-of-way; cost of sign removal.All cost incurred by the department in connection with the removal of a sign located within the right-of-way of the State Highway System, interstate highway system, or federal-aid primary highway system shall be assessed against and collected from the owner of the sign or the advertiser displayed on the sign.
History.s. 43, ch. 2010-225.