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Posted on: May 18, 2018

Indy Rezone: Rewriting Sign Regulations

By Elizabeth Bentz Williams, Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn LLP

As many know, Indianapolis adopted Indy Rezone as a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning regulations with the exception of the sign code in 2016. Currently, Indianapolis has undertaken the task of rewriting the sign regulations, including on-premise signs and billboards. One of the most important and difficult tasks in rewriting the sign code is the issue of content neutrality. I have two sources which relate to the new world of sign code regulations.

This is particularly relative as Indianapolis navigates through revision of the sign code regulations because they have engaged John M. Baker, Greene Espel Law Firm, out of Minnesota to review the ordinance with particular guidance to content neutrality and language that avoids legal challenges. John is a 1st Amendment Specialist recognized across the United States and has many publications and continuing education opportunities available online.

The first link is a blog, “Post-Reed Indianapolis Sign Code Amendments Survive Judicial Scrutiny; City Must Pay Damages for Past Errors,” that specifically speaks to post Reed sign codes and the Indianapolis situation of the GEFT vs. Indianapolis lawsuit. Connolly frequently collaborates with Don Elliot, Clarion, who was one of the consultants on the Indy Rezone project. Connolly and Elliot are the authors of the second link which is a power point, “The New World of Municipal Sign Codes Strategies for Legal and Planning Practice”. All three of these gentlemen are attorneys, active in the American Planning Association (APA).

Since April 1, 2016, the real estate development community in Indianapolis has been working with the new zoning ordinances which were adopted at the conclusion of the Indy Rezone process. The Indy Rezone Zoning Ordinances can be found here.

As is the case with any approximately 700-page revision in the law, multiple errors and practical problems have already been found. In conjunction with the DMD Current Planning Staff, the Real Estate and Land Use Section is working to compile a list of items that are worthy of being included in a “Corrective” ordinance.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to contribute your experiences to the list. We need each of you to please take the time to inform us of any errors or omissions you have discovered. We also need you to describe to us any problem areas or priorities in these new ordinances which your clients are struggling to solve from either a legal, practical or financial perspective. Submit your feedback here.

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