Town of Cortlandt, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Numbering of buildings — See Ch. 139.
Public markets and similar businesses — See Ch. 223.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 261.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 265.
Zoning — See Ch. 307.
245a Table 1 245b Table 2 245c Table 3
[Adopted 8-15-1995[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This resolution superseded former Ch. 245, Signs, adopted 2-17-1976 by L.L. No. 1-1976, as amended.

§ 245-1 Purpose.

The purpose of this article is to provide standards for the use and display of signs. It is recognized that signs serve an important function, and therefore reasonable and adequate display of signs is permitted under the provisions of this article. At the same time, this article recognizes that there is a definite need to regulate the display of signs. Limitations and standards are established herein consistent with the character of the district and uses and activities in the district. These limitations and standards are intended to:
A. 
Encourage sound practices with respect to the size, type and placement of signs for the purpose of safeguarding and enhancing properties in residential, business and industrial areas.
B. 
Provide an environment which will support the existing businesses and promote new sound development of the Town.
C. 
Protect public investment in public facilities, open spaces and thoroughfares.
D. 
Protect and enhance the aesthetic environment of the Town.
E. 
Reduce hazards to motorists and pedestrians on the public ways.
F. 
Promote the public safety and general welfare.

§ 245-2 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
MASTER SIGN PLAN
A sign system used to create visual unity among the signs within a site development plan area and to facilitate compatibility with surrounding establishments and structures. The plan shall include specifications, including but not limited to the following: sign type, style, height, colors, lettering or graphic style, materials, shape, lighting and location on establishment.
SIGN
Any writing (including letter, word or numeral), pictorial representation (including illustration or graphic), emblem (including symbol, logo or trademark), flag (including banner or pennant), device or any other figure of a similar character which is a structure or any part thereof or is attached to, painted on or in any other manner represented on a building window (inside or outside) or other structure and is used to identify, announce, direct or advertise and is visible from outside a building.
SIGN, AREA OF
The entire area within a single continuous perimeter enclosing the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem or any figure of similar character, together with any frame or other material or color forming an integral part of the display or used to differentiate such sign from the background against which it is placed, excluding the necessary supports or uprights on which such sign is placed, provided that the uprights do not exceed six inches by six inches and the bottom of the sign is not more than four feet above finished grade. Where a sign has two or more faces, the area of all faces shall be included in determining the area of the sign, except that where two such faces are placed back-to-back and are at no point more than two feet from one another, the area of the sign shall be taken as the area of one face if the two faces are of equal area, or as the area of the larger face if the two faces are of an unequal area. In the case of individual letters, numerals, symbols or any other figure or similar character placed on a structure, the area shall be based on the smallest polygon or circle possible of enclosing all such individual letters, numerals, symbols or figures of similar character.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
SIGN, BUSINESS
A sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service, event or other activity which is sold, offered or conducted on the premises upon which such sign is located or to which it is affixed.
SIGN, DIRECTLY ILLUMINATED
A sign designed to give forth artificial light directly or through transparent or translucent material from a source of light within such sign, including but not limited to neon and exposed lamp signs. Neon signs announcing OPEN/CLOSED shall be the only permitted use of neon.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
SIGN, FREESTANDING
A sign placed upon or supported by the ground, independent of the principal building or structure on a lot.
SIGN, GENERAL ADVERTISING (BILLBOARDS or POSTERBOARDS)
A sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service event or other activity which is sold, offered or conducted elsewhere than on the premises upon which such sign is located.
SIGN, IDENTIFICATION
A sign which serves to indicate the name, address and lawful use of the premises upon which the sign is located or to which it is affixed. The bulletin board of a public, charitable or religious institution used to display announcements relative to meetings and activities to be held on the premises shall be deemed an "identification sign."
SIGN, INDIRECTLY ILLUMINATED
A sign illuminated with a light directed primarily toward such signs and so shielded that no direct rays from the light are visible elsewhere than on the lot where said illumination occurs. If not effectively so shielded, such sign shall be deemed to be a directly illuminated sign.
SIGN, NAMEPLATE
A sign affixed flat against the wall of a building, attached to a mailbox or freestanding and serving to designate only the name or the name and professional or home occupation of a person or persons residing in or occupying space within such building.
SIGN, NONILLUMINATED
A sign which is not illuminated either directly or indirectly.
SIGN, POLITICAL
A sign displayed for the purposes of informing the public regarding candidate(s) or issue(s) in a primary or general election.
SIGN, PORTABLE
A sign, whether on its own trailer, wheels or otherwise, designed to be movable and not permanently affixed to the ground, a building, structure or another sign.
SIGN, PROJECTING
A sign attached to the wall of any building or other structure at an angle greater than 15 degrees and projecting more than 12 inches from said wall.
SIGN, SALE OR LEASE
A sign which serves only to indicate, with pertinent information, the availability for sale, lease or rental of the lot or building or some part thereof on which such sign is placed.
SIGN, SUBDIVISION/NEIGHBORHOOD
A sign, whether illuminated directly or indirectly, erected at the entranceway or main public road entrance to a community or subdivision, identifying the area by the subdivision name. In no event shall said sign contain more than 20 square feet of sign area. Signs existing on July 1, 2011, that are larger may continue and may be replaced with signs of the same size.
[Added 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
SIGN, TEMPORARY
Any sign that is displayed only for a specified period of time for the promotion of a special event or sale and which is not permanently mounted.
SIGN, WALL
A sign attached flat or at an angle of less than 15° against the wall of any building or structure and projecting less than 12 inches from said wall.
SIGN, WEEKEND DIRECTIONAL
A sign erected to direct motorists to subdivisions located within the boundaries of the Town of Cortlandt for the purposes of advertising lots or dwellings for sale.
SIGN, WIND
Any sign in the nature of a series of two or more pennants, flags or other objects fashioned in such a manner as to move upon being subjected to pressure by wind or breeze.
[Amended 8-13-1996]
SIGN, WINDOW
Any sign, banner or illuminated device placed in a window shall not exceed 40% of the total window area, and the placement of such sign shall not exceed any one sixty-day period.
[Added 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]

§ 245-3 Exceptions.

The provisions of this article shall not apply to the following:
A. 
Signs of duly constituted governmental bodies and their agencies where such signs are established in the interest of the safety, convenience or welfare of the general public. This shall include traffic signs, legal notices and warnings at railroad crossings. The number and location of such signs shall be as directed by the governmental agency having jurisdiction.
B. 
Flags and emblems of a national, state, county or local government or of a patriotic, religious, philanthropic, civic or educational organization when not larger than 12 square feet in area.
C. 
Decorative flags projecting from a building when not larger than 10 square feet in area.
D. 
Official public notices and notices posted by public officers in the performance of their duties.
E. 
Memorial plaques, cornerstones, historical tablets and the like.
F. 
Nameplate signs when four square feet or less in area and not more than one per name for each street frontage.
G. 
Signs, including licenses required to be maintained or posted by law or government order, rule or regulation.
H. 
Nonilluminated signs, none exceeding four square feet in area, displayed strictly for the direction, safety or convenience of the public, including signs which identify rest rooms, telephones and other facilities or conveniences, parking area entrances or exits or freight entrances or for the purposes of indicating the location or restricting the use of off street parking areas when these are provided by the owner or occupant of the building.
I. 
Holiday decorations displayed in season.
J. 
Sale or lease signs when eight square feet or less in size and not more than one per property.
K. 
Temporary signs advertising events associated with nonprofit organizations or charitable events. Temporary signs are allowed 30 days prior to an event and must be removed seven days after the event.
L. 
Political signs. Political signs shall be allowed eight weeks prior to an election and must be removed within seven days after an election.
M. 
Weekend directional signs. Weekend directional signs shall be allowed between the hours of 12:00 noon on Fridays and 12:00 noon on Mondays.
N. 
A nonilluminated construction or subdivision development sign indicating names and information pertinent to the project not to exceed 20 square feet in size and not closer than 20 feet to any property line. One sign per project shall be allowed for two years with the right to be extended by the Planning Board.

§ 245-4 General requirements.

A. 
Signs shall be accessory uses and shall pertain to principal uses on the same lot.
B. 
No sign attached to a building shall project vertically above the ridgeline.
C. 
Where a building covers less than 200 square feet of lot area or a use operated on a lot without a building, then one wall sign or freestanding sign shall be permitted not to exceed one square foot for every four linear feet of public right-of-way frontage or 24 square feet, whichever area is the lesser. The location of such signs shall be restricted to the lot area outside of all required front, side and rear yard areas.
D. 
No sign shall be located within a public right-of-way or project horizontally into a public right-of-way except traffic signs or other governmental or neighborhood signs necessary to the public health, safety or welfare.
E. 
No sign shall have or consist of any moving, rotating or otherwise animated part or, when permitted to be illuminated, any flashing, blinking, change of intensity or color, fluctuating or otherwise animated light, with the exception of time and temperature information.
F. 
In all commercial zoning districts, where a building is divided by party walls or by permanent partitions into separate and distinct business areas and each such area is occupied by a different tenant, the site shall be subject to a Master Sign Plan, approved by the Planning Board as part of the site development plan approval.
G. 
Wind signs shall be permitted in all commercial zoning districts to announce grand openings or special events. Wind signs shall be allowed to remain up for 30 days.
H. 
A business sign (either a freestanding, projecting or wall) may be increased up to a maximum of an additional 12 square feet for a removable message board in all commercial and industrial zoning districts.
[Amended 8-13-1996]
I. 
The following signs are prohibited in all zoning districts:
(1) 
Portable signs.
(2) 
Banners.
[Added 8-13-1996[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This resolution also provided for the renumbering of former Subsection I(2), (3) and (4) as I(3), (4) and (5), respectively.
(3) 
Any sign that cannot be classified under any sign category specifically permitted or exempted by this article.
(4) 
Signs in public places and upon objects.
(a) 
No person shall, in public places or upon public objects, paint, mark or write on or post or otherwise affix any sign to or upon any sidewalk, crosswalk, curb, curbstone, street lamppost, hydrant, tree, shrub, tree stake or guard, railroad trestle, electric light or power or telephone or telegraph or trolley wire pole, or wire appurtenance thereof, or upon any fixture of the fire alarm or police telegraph system or upon any lighting system, bridge, drinking foundation, life buoy, life preserver, board or other lifesaving equipment, street sign or traffic sign or any other similar location.
(b) 
Any sign found posted or otherwise affixed in any public place or upon any public object contrary to the provisions of this section may be removed five days after the notice of violation by the Department of Code Administration and Enforcemet or other duly authorized agents of the Town. The person responsible for any such illegal posting shall be liable for the cost incurred in the removal thereof or $100, whichever is greater. The Department of Code Administration and Enforcement is authorized to effect the collection of said cost.
(c) 
It shall be presumed that the person or other legal entity named on the handbill or sign, or for whose benefit the handbill or sign will inure, placed such sign upon the public place or object unless evidence clear and convincing is established to the contrary.
(d) 
Section § 245-12 shall not apply to this subsection.
(5) 
General advertising signs (billboards and posterboards).
J. 
No sign shall be erected at an intersection or along any highway in such a manner as to obstruct free and clear vision or at any location where, by reason of its position, shape or color, it may interfere with, obstruct the view of or be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal or device, or which makes use of the words "stop," "look," "danger" or any other word, phrase, symbol or character in such a manner as to interfere with, mislead or confuse traffic.
K. 
In addition to the other limitations and standards contained in this article, when any existing or proposed sign is before the Planning Board as an integral part of a proposed site development plan pursuant to Article XII, Site Development Plan Approval, § 307-66, of the Code of the Town of Cortlandt, such signs shall be subject to the approval of the Planning Board with respect to location on the site, position on any building, type of supporting structure and type and character of all materials used.
L. 
Directly illuminated signs may be turned on only during the hours that the principal or permitted use is open to the public and conducting its normal activities and after hours may remain on until 10:00 p.m. in the evening.

§ 245-5 Design criteria; Architectural Review Council; administrative review and approval.

[Amended 8-15-2006 by L.L. No. 4-2006]
A. 
As a part of the site development plan approval process, the Planning Board shall refer all relevant information pertaining to sign design and placement to the Architectural Review Council for review and comment.
B. 
In any case where site development plan approval is not required, the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement shall refer any sign permit application to the Architectural Review Council for review and comment. The review shall be completed and comments submitted to the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement within 30 days. If the comments of the Architectural Review Council are not received by the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement within 30 days, he may entertain the permit application without the input of the Architectural Review Council.
C. 
Application for modification to any existing sign(s) as determined by the Director of Technical Services, whether or not such signs were previously approved as part of site development plan approval by the Planning Board, shall be reviewed and approved by the DOTS Director with the assistance of the Cortlandt Architectural Advisory (CAAC) Committee. The DOTS Director shall have the option to refer applications of such sign(s) to the Planning Board for its review and approval.
D. 
The applicant should refer to the Town of Cortlandt Sign Design Manual for further information.

§ 245-6 Signs permitted in R Districts.

The following signs shall be permitted in all R Districts:
A. 
All signs excepted under § 245-3.
B. 
A sign indicating the name of a subdivision or neighborhood and/or announcements of community activities related to such subdivision or neighborhood not exceeding 20 square feet of sign area.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]
C. 
For principal and special permit uses, except a one-family dwelling, two-family dwelling or multifamily dwelling with six or fewer dwelling units, a nonilluminated or indirectly illuminated identification sign either attached to a building or freestanding and having an area not exceeding 20 square feet.

§ 245-7 Signs permitted in commercial and industrial districts.

Except as otherwise provided herein, the following signs shall be permitted in all commercial districts and in all industrial districts:
A. 
All signs as permitted in the residential districts (see § 245-6 above) are permitted.
B. 
For signs permitted in commercial and industrial districts, see Tables 1 and 2.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Said tables are located at the end of this article.
C. 
Additional directional signage shall be permitted within shopping areas of 500,000 square feet or more. Said signs will be placed along traveled ways within the parking lot to facilitate traveling safely, etc. No one sign shall exceed 10 square feet. The maximum number and location shall be approved by the Planning Board (if an application for site plan review is pending) or Zoning Board (if no other application is pending) based upon the recommendation of the Deputy Director of Technical Services/Planning.
[Added 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 2-2011]

§ 245-8 Permits.

A. 
Permit required. After the effective date of this article, no person shall erect any sign nor shall any property owner allow or maintain on his property any sign regulated by this article without first obtaining a permit therefor from the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement.
B. 
Application for sign permit. An application for a sign permit shall be made, in writing, on a form provided by the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement to the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement and shall contain at least the following information:
(1) 
A location plan showing the position of the sign on any building and its location on the site in relation to nearby buildings or structures and to any private or public street or highway.
(2) 
A detailed drawing of the construction details of the sign indicating materials and colors and showing all the lettering and/or pictorial matter composing the sign, including the position of the lighting.
C. 
Fees. A schedule of fees for a sign permit shall be recommended by the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement and approved by the Town Board.
D. 
Site development requirements.
(1) 
It shall be the duty of the DOTS Director, upon the filing of a sign application, to determine whether or not the premises on which such sign is to be erected has on record an approved site development plan or is currently before the Planning Board with a proposed site development plan, pursuant to article XII, § 307-66, of the Town of Cortlandt Code. If the subject premises is currently before the Planning Board, then the DOTS Director shall transmit a copy of such application for a sign permit to the Planning Board and shall not further process the application for a sign permit until receiving from the Planning Board an approved site development plan, amendment hereto, or approval by motion which includes scale drawings and other information with respect to the proposed sign. If the subject premises upon which a sign permit is being requested is not currently before the Planning Board, an application for a permit for modifications to existing signs, or the placement of additional signs within the restrictions of this article shall be reviewed and approved by the DOTS Director who may seek the advice of the Cortlandt Architectural Advisory Committee. The DOTS Director shall also have the option to refer sign applications to the Planning Board for its review and approval.
[Amended 8-15-2006 by L.L. No. 4-2006; 10-19-2010 by L.L. No. 14-2010]
(2) 
Upon receipt from the Planning Board of an approved site development plan or amendment thereto or an approval by motion of the Planning Board or in the situation where an approved site development plan is not required, it shall be the duty of the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement to examine any approved site development plan, detailed sign plans, specifications and other data submitted to him with the application and, if necessary, to inspect the premises upon which it is proposed to erect the sign or other advertising structure.
E. 
Issuance of permit. If it shall appear that the proposed sign is in compliance with all the requirements of this article, other ordinances of the Town of Cortlandt and any approved site development plan, the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement shall then issue a permit for the erection of the proposed sign. If the sign authorized under any such permit has not been completed within three months from the date of the issuance of such permit, the permit shall become null and void. An applicant may request, in writing, one three-month time extension.
F. 
Revocation of permit. No sign, whether new or existing, shall hereafter be erected or altered except in conformity with the provisions of this article. Notwithstanding any provisions contained herein, the sign must be kept clean, neatly painted and free from all hazards such as, but not limited to, faulty wiring and loose fastenings and must be maintained at all times in such safe condition so as not to be detrimental to the public health or safety. In the event of a violation of any of the foregoing provisions, the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement shall give written notice specifying the violation to the named owner of the sign. If said sign is not conformed within five days by the named owner of the sign, the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement may cause the removal or repair of said sign and shall assess all costs and expenses incurred in said removal or repair against the land or building on which said sign was located. The Director of Code Administration and Enforcement may cause any sign which is a source of immediate peril to persons or property to be removed summarily without notice.

§ 245-9 Nonconforming signs.

A. 
Any sign which cannot be classified from the sign categories specifically permitted or exempted by this article shall be removed within one year of the effective date of this article.
B. 
All other signs which do not meet the provisions or standards of this article shall be either conformed or shall be removed within seven years of the effective date of this article.

§ 245-10 Appeals and variances.

A. 
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement relative to the provisions of this article may appeal such decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals which shall comply with all procedural requirements prescribed by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
B. 
The Zoning Board of Appeals, after public notice and hearing and subject to appropriate safeguards, may vary or modify the application of this article in harmony with its general purpose and intent where it finds that there are circumstances unique to the property in issue and cannot be obviated by some other method feasible for the applicant to pursue. However, in no event shall the Zoning Board of Appeals grant a variance in excess of 100% of the sign area otherwise permitted by this article.

§ 245-11 Enforcement.

Any provisions of this article or any rules adopted herein may be enforced by the Director of Code Administration and Enforcement of the Town of Cortlandt.

§ 245-12 Penalties for offenses.

Any violation of this article or the rules and regulations promulgated hereunder may be punished as follows:
A. 
Civil penalties. The Director may, in his sole discretion, choose to impose and collect a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 for any violation of this article. The Town Attorney is hereby authorized to commence a civil action to collect the civil penalty herein in any court of competent jurisdiction.
B. 
Criminal offense. Any violation of this article or any rule promulgated hereunder is hereby declared to be a violation punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 or up to 15 days in jail. A criminal information file alleging a violation of this article shall be in the form required by the Criminal Procedure Law. Each day that a violation continues shall be deemed to be a separate and distinct offense.
[Adopted 9-16-2008 by L.L. No. 5-2008]

§ 245-13 Legislative intent.

A. 
In 1995 the Town Board enacted a law, Chapter 245, Signs,[1] which attempted to eliminate all billboards from within the Town of Cortlandt. That law required all such signs to be removed within seven years. While it was thought that notice of the removal provisions were given at that time to the owners, the only records available were copies of notices in 2002 advising the owners to remove the signs. The Town Board has previously attempted litigation to extract the removal of these signs to no avail.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Article I, Design and Display.
B. 
It is with the intent to cause the discontinuance and removal of billboards that this article is adopted.

§ 245-14 Billboards and outdoor advertising devices prohibited; exceptions.

All billboards or outdoor advertising devices are hereby prohibited anywhere within the Town in zones other than manufacturing or industrial zones, as of the effective date of this article.

§ 245-15 Existing billboards.

Any billboard or outdoor advertising device legally existing on the effective date of this article shall be removed and discontinued within the following time periods from the date of notice provided to them:
Fair Market Value on Date of Removal Requirement
Minimum Years Allowed
Under $1,999
3
$2,000 to $3,999
4
$4,000 to $5,999
6
$6,000 to $7,999
7
$8,000 to $9,999
9
$10,000 or more
10

§ 245-16 Notice.

Each property or sign owner affected by this article will be given written notice by the Director of Technical Services (or his appropriate deputy) of the value assigned to his/her billboard and the number of years the owner has to remove said billboard.

§ 245-17 Removal; penalties for offenses.

A. 
On the date specified in the removal notice, the billboard or other outside advertising device must be removed.
B. 
Failure to remove the billboard shall be considered the same as a violation of the Zoning Ordinance,[1] and all penalties and procedures for violations set forth therein shall apply.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 307, Zoning.

§ 245-18 Appeals.

Should any property owner or sign owner who receives the notice set forth in § 245-16 dispute any of the determinations made therein, he/she may appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Said appeal must be filed within 60 days following receipt of the notice.