House Highlights 12-26-12

Posted January 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

Last April members of the Interim Rules Review Committee reverted certain proposed changes to the administrative rules governing the Department of Transportation’s Tourist-Oriented Directional Signage (TODS) On Right-of-Way program back to a prior step in the process. Specifically the reason the rules were presented to the IRRC in April is because a member of the farm winery industry brought forth a petition to the Department of Transportation asking for an amendment to the rules governing Tourist-Oriented Directional Signing-On Right-of-Way. This proposed amendment to the existing rules would enable the farm winery industry to be eligible for the TODS program without fully complying with criteria that applies to all other program participants. Further, members of the farm winery industry were also requesting permission to have a logo symbol attached to their TOD signs-or “special treatment”.

First, you may wonder just exactly what is Tourist-Oriented Directional Signing. It is defined in rule as signing installed and maintained by the department (of transportation) within the right-of-way of a highway that provides business identification and directional information for tourist-oriented businesses. A tourist-oriented business is one that is completely outside a municipality and is defined as a business service, or activity that receives the major portion of its income or visitors during its business season from road users traveling for pleasure and not residing in the area of the facility.

Specifically, a tourist-oriented business is a lodging establishment, campground, visitor attraction, recreational service, recreational equipment rental business, or visitor intensive business or an agri-tourism business. (An agri-tourism business is a business that offers activities that occur on a farm and are related to the agricultural use of the farm site, including, but not limited to on-site sales of agricultural products directly to the consumer, such as roadside farm markets, pick-your-own operations, you-cut Christmas trees, farm wineries and educational activities and tours.)

Second, to be considered for tourist-oriented directional signing, a business shall meet, according to the rules, the following criteria:

The business shall be a rural business and a tourist-oriented business;

The business shall comply with applicable state and federal laws concerning the provision of public accommodations without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex or national origin;

The business shall be located within 20 miles of the signed intersection;

The business shall be open a minimum of six hours a day, five days a week and 12 months a year. A seasonal business may qualify if it is open six hours a day, five days a week during the seasonal period which such businesses would typically operate;

The intersection to be signed shall be located on a highway in a rural area outside a municipality;

The business may not have an on-premise sign that advertises the business visible from the highway at a distance greater than a listed table in rule.

The business may not be identified by an off right-of-way directional sign as authorized in state law that is within five miles, is on the same route as, and is facing the same direction as the proposed TOD sign; and

The business is not maintaining a sign in violation of state law.

Therefore, the reason the original TODS rules were reverted to a previous step in the process is because members of the IRRC expressed concern that “special treatment” was being given to the farm wineries industry and not to other business participants in the signage program. As a consequence the DOT formed a work group to clarify and comprehensively review the TODS rules. As a result of their efforts, approximately 100 business or 200 signs will no longer be eligible for the TODS program because they do not meet the criteria as set forth in state law. However, generic symbols on TODS will be now permitted. And, all non-conforming signs can remain in place until January 1st, 2015 to allow for the transitional process. Thank you for your interest in South Dakota State government issues. Please feel free to contact me at (605) 352-9862 or peggygibson@hotmail.com.

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