Delaware General Assembly




Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. Purposes and General Scope 1:--The rapid growth in the use of motor vehicles throughout the state, the concurrent extension of highways, built or improved at public expense, is leading to great changes in the extent and character of public travel; the investment of the state, municipalities and towns in good roads, parks, parkways, playgrounds and reservations, the safety, convenience and welfare of the inhabitants are being affected; and the regulation and control of outdoor advertising signs, structures and devices of all kinds is hereby provided for in order to promote the general welfare, especially in the particulars so recited.

2. The powers and authority hereby granted are in derogation of no other powers or authority granted by or created or exercised under any other statute, or by a planning or zoning board or authority, or other public officer, but shall be construed as in addition to any such power or authority, which shall remain unaffected hereby.

Section 2. Powers and Duties of State Highway Department: --It shall be the function and duties of the State Highway Department (a) to enforce the provisions of this act, and (b) to make, publish and enforce such further regulations for the proper control and restriction of structures, signs and other outdoor advertising devices, within the territory under its jurisdiction, as may be required to accomplish the purposes of this Act. The territory under the jurisdiction of the said State Highway Department for the purposes of this Act shall include all of the state outside the corporate limits of any city or incorporated village or town. All employees of the State Highway Department, or any peace officer of this State, when so directed by the State Highway Department or its officers, may enter into and upon any land or building to make any examination or survey, or to enforce the provisions of this act.

Section 3. Individual Device Permits:-1. Except as hereinafter provided, no person, firm, association or corporation Whether engaged in the business of outdoor advertising or not, shall erect, maintain or display any poster panel, bulletin, advertising structure, advertising sign or other advertising device, above or upon real property, without first obtaining a permit therefor from the State Highway Department as herein provided.

2. A separate application for a permit shall be made for each separate advertising structure, sign or device on a form furnished by the said State Highway Department, which application shall contain such information as it may require. Each application shall be accompanied by the written consent of the owner or tenant of the real property upon which such structure, sign, device or display is to be erected or maintained. Application shall be made in like manner for a permit to maintain any existing structure, sign, device or display or to renew a permit.

3. The said State Highway Department, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, shall issue permits for a period of at least one year for the erection and maintenance of all types of outdoor advertising structures, signs, devices and displays; and if the erection and display of any advertising device for which a permit is issued by the said State Highway Department shall be prevented by any zoning board, commission or other public authority or agency which also has jurisdiction over the proposed device or its site, the permit shall be revoked.

Section 4. Identification:--The said State Highway Department shall require that each outdoor advertising structure, sign, device or display shall bear an identifying tag or plate to be issued by the State Highway Department, and if erected or maintained by an outdoor advertiser shall also bear his name, and the said State Highway Department shall make suitable provisions for the details thereof. Excepting, however, all signs, devices or announcements which a telephone, telegraph or electric power company places on its poles to indicate danger or ownership thereof, or on buildings to indicate the places where its services are available, or its offices are situated, or crossing signs, devices or announcements erected or maintained by incorporated railroad or railway companies or caution crossing and danger stop signs erected by utility companies or municipal authorities.

Section 5. Removal:--All outdoor advertising structures, signs, devices or displays shall be removed by the outdoor advertiser or other person, firm or corporation, erecting, owning, maintaining or displaying the same, or in default of the owner or tenant of the premises upon which the structure or display is located, within thirty days from the date of the expiration or revocation of the permit for the same.

Section 6. Certain Outdoor Advertising Prohibited:--No structure or advertising device, except directional and warning signs erected by or with the approval of the said State Highway Department shall be erected or maintained:

1. On the right of way of any public highway.

2. Within twenty-five feet of any public highway, park, parkway, playground, school or church if within view of any portion of the same.

3. Upon the inside of curves or at or near a railroad crossing or a highway intersection, if such would obstruct or interfere with the view of a train, locomotive, street car or other vehicle or at approaching such crossing or intersection, or so as to obstruct the view of any such intersection or crossing or of a turn or sharp change in alignment or in any manner dangerous to the public.

4. If said structure or advertising device is not in good physical condition or in any way endangers traffic on any public highway.

Section 7. Outdoor Advertising on Public Highways:--Any person who wilfully or maliciously displaces, removes, destroys or injures a mile-board, mile-stone, danger-sign or signal; or guide sign or post or any inscription thereon, lawfully within a public highway, or who in any manner paints, prints, places, puts or affixes, such an advertisement upon or to any rock, stone, tree, fence, stump, pole, mile-stone, danger-signal, guide-sign, guide-post, building or other object lawfully within the limits of any public highway, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Section 8. Certain Announcements Excepted:--The following classes of signs and announcements, even when otherwise falling within the category of outdoor advertising are excepted from the provisions of the Act.

5. A sign erected or maintained upon property to identify a business conducted thereon provided such sign does not exceed thirty square feet in area and is placed on the premises.

6. A sign containing six square feet or less upon real property stating that the property, or a part thereof, is for sale or for rent.

7. A notice or advertisement required by law in any legal proceeding or put upon by public authority.

8. Danger or precautionary sign containing two square feet or less relating to the premises or a sign warning of the condition of or danger of travel on a highway.

0. Any notice or sign of any railroad or other transportation or transmission or communication company necessary for the direction or information or safety of the public.

1. Any sign, containing six square feet or less and bearing announcement of any town, village or city advertising itself or local industries, meetings, buildings, historical markers or attractions, provided the same is maintained at public expense.

Section 9. Harmony of Regulations:--No zoning board or commission, nor any other public officer or agency, shalt have power to permit any outdoor advertising which is prohibited by this act or by the said State Highway Department under the provisions of this act, nor shall the said State Highway Department have any power to permit any outdoor advertising which is prohibited by any other law or by any board, officer or public agency in the lawful exercise of its or their powers.

Section 10. No outdoor advertising, structures, signs, devices or displays for advertising purposes shall display copy which is critical of the laws or government of the United States or the State of Delaware, which induces a violation of Federal or State law, or which is offensive to the moral standards of the community at the time the copy is offered for display, or which is false, misleading or deceptive.

Section 11. No advertising copy of any character shall be posted, painted, placed or affixed in any way upon rocks, trees, fences, or barricades, within fifty feet of any public highway.

Section 12. Non-Conforming Signs:--Any person, firm or corporation maintaining any advertising sign, structure or device of any kind in violation of the provisions of this Act shall within three years of the effective date of this Act remove such signs, structures or devices or relocate them in compliance with the provisions of this Act.

Section 13. Violation a Nuisance; Abatement:--Any advertising sign, structure or device, which is erected, maintained or displayed in violation of this Act or of any regulations lawfully adopted pursuant to this Act is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and may be forthwith removed, obliterated or abated by the State Highway Department, its employees or any peace officer of the State. Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this Act or any regulation lawfully adopted pursuant to this Act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction be punishable by a fine of not less than Ten Dollars ($10.00) nor more than Fifty Dollars 050.00). Each day that a violation is allowed to continue after notice of its existence shall constitute a separate offense. Any taxpayer may maintain an action for an injunction to restrain any violation of the provisions of this act or of any regulation lawfully adopted pursuant thereto.

Section 14. Local Regulations:--The provisions of this Act shall not apply to any structures, signs or other outdoor advertising devices situate within the corporate limits of any city or incorporated town or village in the State of Delaware.

Section 15. Construction of Act:--This act shall be liberally construed with a view to the effective accomplishment of its purpose. If any section or provision of this act shall be held invalid or unconstitutional such decision shall affect only the section or provision so declared invalid or unconstitutional and shall not affect any other section or provisions of this act.

Section 16. This Act shall take effect January 1st, 1940. Approved May 15, 1939.