Signs for businesses and other activities taking place on the property where the signs are located are generally considered exempt from regulation. When placing these signs, it is advised that property lines be checked to ensure the placement is indeed on the property and not within the public right-of-way for a primary highway. If the sign is being placed near an intersection, care should be taken so that site lines for traffic approaching the intersection are not blocked or partially blocked for motorists on the highway or the intersecting roadway.
The Iowa Department of Transportation does not have a size or height limit for these signs, but individuals wishing to place them should always check with local authorities to ensure compliance with local regulations.
Signs that utilize digital LED displays are restricted to messages for businesses and activities located on the property. Running spot ads for other businesses or organizations will trigger regulatory review. General messages (i.e., time, temperature, etc.) are acceptable. If the LED display is intended to be used for the on-site elements as well as off-site businesses, consultation will be necessary with the Department to see if the area is conforming for an outdoor advertising permit.
The lighting intensity of digital LED signs should be reduced at night so as to avoid any temporary vision impairment for motorists driving by the sign.
Signs which have been erected on property which has been purchased or leased primarily for the placement of the sign may qualify as an advertising device regulated under Iowa law. Before purchasing or leasing property, including narrow strips of land, for the purpose of securing an advantageous location for a sign, consult with the staff in the Advertising Management section or at 515-239-1255 to ensure the placement will be eligible for an advertising permit.