Montana Administrative Register Notice 18-144 No. 2   01/30/2014    
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In the matter of the adoption of New Rule I and the amendment of ARM 18.6.202 and 18.6.247 pertaining to community welcome to signs









TO: All Concerned Persons


1. On November 14, 2013, the Department of Transportation published MAR Notice No. 18-144 pertaining to the proposed adoption and amendment of the above-stated rules at page 2018 of the 2013 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 21.


2. The department has amended the above-stated rules as proposed.


The department has adopted the above-stated rule as proposed: New Rule I (18.6.238).


3. The department has thoroughly considered the comments received. A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:


COMMENT NO. 1: One comment was received stating new rules or amended rules regarding community welcome to signs should comply with local land use controls and applicable permits. The comment suggested amending New Rule I to include language stating outdoor advertising permits shall be not issued until the applicant has provided proof of compliance with local jurisdiction's permits and regulations, including building, zoning, land use, electrical, floodplain and signage. The comment stated there should be coordination between the county and MDT permitting processes to avoid potential conflict points.


RESPONSE: MDT notes that all outdoor advertising permit applicants are already required to comply with all federal, state, county, and local statutes, rules, and ordinances on outdoor advertising under ARM 18.6.205(7). In addition, ARM 18.6.205(6) already states that MDT rules do not supersede the rights and powers of the counties and cities to enact outdoor advertising ordinances, if the ordinances do not conflict with or set lower standards than MDT's rules. In addition, MDT's outdoor advertising permit process already requires a county planning official to sign-off on the application, thus ensuring MDT's permitting process will coordinate with the local county regulations, and allow the county to enforce its own regulations. Welcome to sign applications will follow this same process, which already ensures coordination between the county and MDT in issuance of outdoor advertising permits; thus, no change to the proposed New Rule I language is necessary.


COMMENT NO. 2: One comment was received stating New Rule I (1) does not define "qualifying communities" except to state that tourist areas do not qualify. The comment stated this is potentially "dangerous and vague language" which is of concern to resort area communities which were formed primarily because of tourism impacts and improvements. The comment stated that existing resort area communities and unincorporated communities may not qualify for a welcome to sign, or may be "at risk" if they attempt to modify their existing welcome to signs. The comment suggested the rules should clearly include resort area communities and unincorporated communities.


RESPONSE: MDT specifically drafted New Rule I to avoid limiting the qualifying communities to "incorporated" or "unincorporated." New Rule I states that any "community, county or sovereign nation may erect welcome to signs"; thus, there is no intent or limiting language which would prohibit a resort area community from qualifying for a welcome to sign on the basis of incorporation status alone. New Rule I only specifically prohibits states and tourist area regions from qualifications. New Rule I(13) would only require a "grandfathered" welcome to sign to meet the rule requirements in the event of upgrades or structural modifications beyond routine maintenance. New Rule I does not appear to pose a "risk" to a resort area community for loss of qualification for a welcome to sign, or for prevention of upgrades or structural modifications if New Rule I standards are met.



/s/ Carol Grell Morris                                   /s/  Kevin Howlett                            

Carol Grell Morris                                        Kevin Howlett

Rule Reviewer                                             Chair

                                                                  Transportation Commission



Certified to the Secretary of State January 21, 2014.



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