Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 33.2. Highways and Other Surface Transportation Systems
Chapter 12. Outdoor Advertising in Sight of Public Highways

§ 33.2-1200. Policy; definitions.

A. In order to promote the safety, convenience, and enjoyment of travel on and protection of the public investment in highways within the Commonwealth, attract tourists and promote the prosperity, economic well-being, and general welfare of the Commonwealth, and preserve and enhance the natural scenic beauty or aesthetic features of the highways and adjacent areas, the General Assembly declares it to be the policy of the Commonwealth that the erection and maintenance of outdoor advertising in areas adjacent to the rights-of-way of the highways within the Commonwealth shall be regulated in accordance with the terms of this article and regulations promulgated by the Board pursuant thereto.

B. As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Advertisement" means any writing, printing, picture, painting, display, emblem, drawing, sign, or similar device that is posted or displayed outdoors on real property and is intended to invite or to draw the attention of or solicit the patronage or support of the public to any goods, merchandise, real or personal property, business, services, entertainment, or amusement manufactured, produced, bought, sold, conducted, furnished, or dealt in by any person. "Advertisement" includes any part of an advertisement recognizable as such.

"Advertising structure" means any rigid or semirigid material, with or without any advertisement displayed thereon, situated upon or attached to real property outdoors, primarily or principally for the purpose of furnishing a background or base or support upon which an advertisement may be posted or displayed.

"Area of an advertising structure" means the area determined from its outside measurements, excluding as a part thereof the height and overall width of supports and supporting structure and any other portion or portions thereof beneath the normal area upon which an advertisement is posted or intended to be posted.

"Billboard sign" means any sign, advertisement, or advertising structure as defined in this section owned by a person, firm, or corporation in the business of outdoor advertising.

"Business of outdoor advertising" means the erection, use, or maintenance of advertising structures or the posting or display of outdoor advertisements by any person who receives profit gained from rentals or any other compensation from any other person for the use or maintenance of such advertising structures or the posting or display of such advertisements, except reasonable compensation for materials and labor used or furnished in the actual erection of advertising structures or the actual posting of advertisements. "Business of outdoor advertising" does not include the leasing or rental of advertising structures or advertisements used to advertise products, services, or entertainment sold or provided on the premises where the advertising structures or advertisement is located.

"Centerline of the highway" means a line equidistant from the edges of the median separating the main traveled ways of a divided highway or the centerline of the main traveled way of a nondivided highway.

"Distance from edge of a right-of-way" means the horizontal distance measured along a line normal or perpendicular to the centerline of the highway.

"Federal-aid primary highway" means any highway within that portion of the primary state highway system as established and maintained under Article 2 (§ 33.2-310 et seq.) of Chapter 3, including extensions of such system within municipalities, that has been approved by the Secretary of Transportation pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 103(b), as that system existed on June 1, 1991.

"Highway" means every way or place of whatever nature open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth.

"Historic place, museum, or shrine" includes only places that are maintained wholly at public expense or by a nonprofit organization.

"Information center" means an area or site established and maintained at rest areas for the purpose of informing the public of places of interest within the Commonwealth and providing such other information as the Commonwealth may consider desirable.

"Interchange" means a grade separated intersection with one or more turning roadways for travel between intersection legs, or an intersection at grade, where two or more highways join or cross.

"Lawfully erected" means any sign that was erected pursuant to the issuance of a permit from the Commissioner of Highways under § 33.2-1208, unless the local governing body has evidence of noncompliance with ordinances in effect at the time the sign was erected.

"Legible" means capable of being read without visual aid by a person of normal visual acuity.

"Maintain" means to allow to exist.

"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 separated roadways for traffic in opposite directions is a main traveled way. "Main traveled way" does not include such facilities as frontage roads, turning roadways, or parking areas.

"National Highway System" means the federal-aid highway system referenced in 23 U.S.C. § 103(b), and regulations adopted pursuant thereto. For the purpose of this article, outdoor advertising controls on the National Highway System shall be implemented as those highways are designated and approved by congressional action or designation by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and such designation and approval shall be kept on file in the central office of the Department of Transportation and placed in the minutes of the Commonwealth Transportation Board by the Commissioner of Highways. Prior to congressional approval or designation by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, highways classified as National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, Interstate System, or federal-aid primary highway as defined in this section shall be considered as the National Highway System.

"Nonconforming sign," "nonconforming advertisement," or "nonconforming advertising structure" means one that was lawfully erected adjacent to any highway in the Commonwealth but that does not comply with the provisions of state law, state regulations, or ordinances adopted by local governing bodies passed at a later date or that later fails to comply with state law, state regulations, or ordinances adopted by local governing bodies due to changed conditions.

"Person" includes an individual, partnership, association, or corporation.

"Post" means post, display, print, paint, burn, nail, paste, or otherwise attach.

"Real property" includes any property physically attached or annexed to real property in any manner whatsoever.

"Rest area" means an area or site established and maintained within or adjacent to the right-of-way or under public supervision or control for the convenience of the traveling public.

"Scenic area" means any public park or area of particular scenic beauty or historical significance designated as a scenic area by the Board.

"Sign" means any outdoor sign, display, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard, or other thing that is designed, intended, or used to advertise or inform, any part of the advertising or informative contents of which is visible from any highway.

"Trade name" includes a brand name, trademark, distinctive symbol, or other similar device or thing used to identify particular products or services.

"Traveled way" means the portion of a roadway for the movement of vehicles, exclusive of shoulders.

"Turning roadway" means a connecting roadway for traffic turning between two intersection legs of an interchange.

"Urban area" means an urbanized area or, in the case of an urbanized area encompassing more than one state, that part of the urbanized area within the Commonwealth, or an urban place.

"Urbanized area" means an area so designated by the U.S. Census Bureau, within boundaries fixed by the Commissioner of Highways, in his discretion, in cooperation with the governing bodies of the localities affected and the appropriate federal authority. Such boundaries shall, at a minimum, encompass the entire urbanized area within a state as designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Urban place" means an area so designated by the U.S. Census Bureau having a population of 5,000 or more and not within any urbanized area, within boundaries fixed by the Commissioner of Highways, in his discretion, in cooperation with the governing bodies of the localities affected and the appropriate federal authority. Such boundaries shall, at a minimum, encompass the entire urban place designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Virginia byway" and "scenic highway" means those highways designated by the Board pursuant to § 33.2-405. For the purposes of this article, a Virginia byway means a scenic byway as referenced in 23 U.S.C. § 131(s).

"Visible" means capable of being seen (whether or not legible) without visual aid by a person of normal visual acuity.

Code 1950, §§ 33-298, 33-310; 1954, c. 588; 1960, c. 406; 1962, c. 176; 1966, c. 663; 1970, c. 322, §§ 33.1-351, 33.1-363; 1976, c. 14; 1980, c. 275; 1984, c. 750; 1993, c. 538; 1996, c. 777; 2000, cc. 432, 449; 2002, c. 672; 2012, c. 145; 2013, c. 127; 2014, c. 805.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.