(A) No person shall do either of the following without first obtaining a permit and permit plates from the director of transportation:
(1) Erect, use, maintain, operate, construct, or cause or permit to be erected, used, maintained, operated, or constructed, any advertising device located in either of the following:
(a) Commercial or industrial zones traversed by segments of the interstate system within the boundaries of a municipal corporation as such boundaries existed on September 21, 1959;
(b) Zoned or unzoned industrial or commercial areas adjacent to highways on the primary system.
(2) Maintain any nonconforming advertising device.
(B) Applications for such a permit shall be made on forms prescribed by the director, and a separate application shall be submitted for each sign face. The director shall adopt rules setting forth the requirements for completion of the application process and the issuance of permits consistent with this section.
(1) As part of the application process, the director may require an acknowledgment to be signed by the owner or person in lawful possession or control of the proposed location of the advertising device. Such acknowledgment may include, but shall not be limited to, a statement that the applicant has the right to occupy the land at the subject location, that if at any time removal is required, the owner or person in lawful possession or control of the location may be jointly liable, and that the applicant may only occupy the land for a specified time period. If legal use of the location is terminated at any time during the permit period, the permit is subject to cancellation pursuant to section 5516.12 of the Revised Code.
(2) As part of the application process, the director may require an applicant or the applicant's authorized representative to certify in a notarized signed statement that the applicant has not knowingly provided materially false, misleading, or inaccurate information.
(3) Each application shall be accompanied by the appropriate application fee as set forth in the fee schedule established by the director. Such fee schedule shall be based on the reasonable cost of administering and processing such permits. Application fees shall be nonrefundable.
(4) Applications for permits shall be disapproved and permits shall not be issued under any of the following conditions:
(a) The proposed location for an advertising device is not visible from the main traveled portion of the highway due to existing landscaping on the right-of-way of any highway.
(b) The advertising device can be erected or maintained only from the right-of-way of an interstate or primary highway system.
(c) The proposed location for the advertising device is on land that is used principally as a residence.
(d) The advertising device is erected or maintained on trees, or painted or drawn upon rocks or other natural features.
(e) The advertising device would be a traffic hazard or a danger to the safety of the traveling public.
(f) The advertising device would prevent the driver of a motor vehicle from having a clear and unobstructed view of official signs and approaching or merging traffic.
(g) The advertising device is illuminated so as to interfere with the effectiveness of an official sign, signal, or other traffic control device.
(h) The advertising device attempts, or appears to attempt, to direct the movement of traffic, or interferes with, imitates, or resembles an official sign, signal, or other traffic control device.
(C) The issuance of a permit under this section shall not be construed to invalidate municipal ordinances requiring a permit or license or providing for an inspection fee for advertising devices, or regulating such advertising devices. The cost of the application fee for such permits or licenses issued, or the cost of initial inspection fees charged under municipal ordinances shall be credited against and shall reduce the cost of the permit issued by the director under this section. If a permit is issued by a zoning authority pursuant to its ordinances, rules, or regulations controlling outdoor advertising devices, a copy thereof shall be furnished to the director with any application for a new permit required by this section or within thirty days of its issuance by a zoning authority.
(D) Where an application is submitted for the erection, use, maintenance, operation, or construction of an advertising device, the director may conditionally approve such application as to location only, and final approval shall remain pending until the advertising device is erected, used, maintained, or constructed or becomes operational. Upon notification by the permit applicant that the erection, use, maintenance, construction, or operation of the advertising device is completed, the director shall verify that the advertising device complies with the terms and conditions of the conditional permit. Upon verification of compliance with the terms and conditions of the conditional permit, the director may approve and issue a permit and permit plates, which shall be securely and permanently attached in the corner of the face of the advertising device nearest to the highway in such a manner as to be visible from the main traveled way of the interstate or primary highway system. Replacement plates may be issued upon request and upon the payment of a replacement fee to be determined by the director.
(E) All permits issued pursuant to this section shall be in effect for a period of two years. Permits may be renewed upon application made on forms designated by the director and upon the payment of a nonrefundable renewal fee in an amount to be determined by the director based on the reasonable cost of administering and processing such renewal permits. Any permits that are not renewed, and any permit plates issued in connection with such permits, shall be returned to the director for cancellation by the expiration date. The director may adopt rules for the reinstatement of permits canceled as a result of nonpayment of renewal fees, and shall develop a fee schedule for late renewals.
(1) Where the director conditionally approves the issuance of a permit as to location only and the permit applicant fails to construct, erect, use, operate, or maintain an advertising device within the period for which the permit was issued, such permit shall not be renewed unless a renewal fee is paid to extend the privilege for one additional permit period. No conditional permit shall be renewed and no extensions shall be granted after the second renewal period.
(2) A last permit holder's application for a permit shall not be accepted until a permit issued pursuant to division (F)(1) of this section has expired for a period of six months, commencing from the expiration date, for any of the following locations:
(a) The expired location;
(b) A location within five hundred feet of the expired location on an interstate highway, a primary highway outside a municipal corporation, or a freeway inside a municipal corporation;
(c) A location within two hundred fifty feet of the expired location on any other primary highway inside a municipal corporation.
The director shall process written applications in the order in which they are received.
(G) Permits for advertising devices erected and maintained with a valid permit issued before July 1, 1997, may be renewed unless the director finds that the permit application contains materially false, misleading, or inaccurate information or the sign has been erected or maintained contrary to this chapter or the rules adopted thereunder, and in such event the director may take appropriate action pursuant to section 5516.12 of the Revised Code. An applicant who has a conditional permit issued by the director before June 30, 1997, and who has not yet exercised the privilege of constructing, using, operating, erecting, or maintaining an advertising device at the proposed location as of that date, shall have until December 31, 1997, to comply with the terms and conditions of the conditional permit or such permit shall be canceled. However, the applicant may request that the conditional permit be renewed by submitting a renewal application and paying a nonrefundable renewal fee to extend the privilege for one additional permit period.
(H) Permits may be transferred from one sign owner to another upon written acknowledgment from the current permittee and the payment of a transfer fee in an amount to be determined by the director for each permit to be transferred. The new permit holder is subject to all the terms and conditions of the prior permit holder and shall be subject to this chapter and the rules adopted thereunder.
(I) No person shall submit an application for an advertising device permit where the proposed location is adjacent to a proposed project on the interstate or primary system and the proposed location for the device would be illegal under this chapter upon completion of the project.
(J) Any permit issued by the director under this chapter or the rules adopted under it, is the property of the permit holder. Upon the sale of an advertising device, a permit issued under this section continues in effect for the period established under division (E) of this section.
Effective Date: 06-29-2001; 09-16-2004