[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Greene at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Numbering of buildings — See Ch. 48.
Sidewalk markets — See Ch. 93.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 105.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 117.
Zoning — See Ch. 125.
Editor's Note: Prior to the adoption of this Code, the regulation of signs was included in the zoning provisions.
The purpose of this chapter is to promote and protect the public health, welfare and safety by regulating existing and proposed outdoor advertising, outdoor advertising signs, outdoor signs of all types and certain other signs. It is further intended to protect property values, to create a more attractive economic and business climate, to enhance and protect the physical appearance of the community, to preserve the scenic and natural beauty of designated areas and to provide a more enjoyable and pleasing community. It is further intended hereby to reduce sign or advertising distractions and obstructions that may contribute to traffic accidents, to reduce hazards that may be caused by overhanging or projecting signs over public rights-of-way, to provide more open space and to curb the deterioration of natural beauty and community environment.
This chapter shall hereafter be known and cited as the "Sign Law of the Village of Greene."
For the purpose of this chapter, certain terms or words used herein shall be interpreted as follows:
- CODES OFFICIAL
- That person designated by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Greene to serve at the pleasure of the Board and charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing this chapter. Such person may be the Code Official having similar responsibilities with respect to Chapter 125, Zoning.
- Calendar days.
- The districts established and defined in Chapter 125, Zoning, and/or the Historical District.
- To build, construct, display, relocate, attach, hang, place, suspend or affix, any sign.
- FACE OF A BUILDING
- The outer surface of a building which is visible from any private or public street or highway or parking lot.
- LIGHTING DEVICE
- Any light, string of lights or group of lights located or arranged so as to illuminate a sign.
- Any firm, association, organization, partnership, trust, company or corporation, as well as an individual.
- Any device located or used on the exterior or in the interior of any building or unattached and separate from any building, designed primarily to inform or attract the attention of persons not on the premises on which said device is located or on the immediate street frontage thereof. Such devices include but are not limited to holiday decorations, wall signs, projecting signs and freestanding signs, as defined in this chapter, containing advertisements, announcements, notices, directional matters, names, declarations, demonstrations, displays, illustrations or insignia used to advertise or promote the interests of a person or business when the "sign" is placed in view of the general public. Such signs may be known as "billboards," "sign frames," "painted signs," "hanging signs" or "ground signs" and include illuminated, moving, flashing or fluttering devices.
- SIGN AREA
- That portion of a sign containing lettering, logos or other graphics, including the background, all borders and other items essential for the message being projected. The area is also known as a "face area." On two-faced projecting or freestanding signs, the largest and only one face shall be used to compute sign area.
- SIGN, CONSTRUCTION
- Any sign denoting the architect, engineer, contractor or similar person responsible for the construction, repair or renovation work on the premises.
- SIGN, FREESTANDING
- Any single or multifaced sign not attached to or painted on a building and having an independent fixed location.
- SIGN, ILLUMINATED
- Any sign illuminated by electricity, gas or other artificial light, including reflective or phosphorescent light.
- SIGN, NONCONFORMING
- Any sign which was lawful before this chapter was passed or amended, but which would be prohibited, regulated or restricted under the terms of this chapter or future amendments.
- SIGN, OFF-PREMISES
- Any sign unrelated to a business or profession conducted or to a commodity or service sold or offered upon the premises where such sign is located; also known as a "nonaccessory sign."
- SIGN, PORTABLE
- Any single or multifaced sign not fastened to a structure or to the land and readily movable to other locations.
- SIGN, PROJECTING
- Any single or multifaced sign which projects from the exterior of any building.
- SIGN, WALL
- Any sign painted on or attached to the exterior front or face (including windows) of a building and not projecting therefrom.
- STREET LINE
- The outside right-of-way line of a street, defined in the New York State Village Law.
- WALL SIGN ARRANGEMENT, AREA OF
- Determined by taking the sum of the areas of the rectangles circumscribing the words and devices of each wall sign in the arrangement.
The word "shall" is mandatory; the word "may" is permissive.
The present tense includes the future tense; the singular number includes the plural; and the plural number includes the singular.
The Planning Board is hereby authorized, pursuant to Article 7 of the New York State Village Law, to review and approve, approve with modifications or disapprove sign plans prepared to specifications set forth in this chapter and/or in regulations of the Planning Board showing the arrangement, design and placement of the proposed sign within the Village of Greene. (The intent of the Village Board in establishing this chapter is expressed in § 93-1. It is not the intent to create a single, uniform style of acceptable signs. The applicant's individual preferences should be afforded consideration within the guidelines of the intent.)
The Planning Board is further authorized to adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary, consistent with other laws of the Village of Greene, particularly Chapter 125, Zoning, to exercise the powers so granted.
When any sign is proposed to be placed on property within the Village of Greene and before any permit for the placement of said sign is issued, the applicant or his duly authorized agent shall apply to the Codes Official in accordance with the permit procedure stated below. Where the applicant is not the property owner, the application shall be cosigned by the property owner.
The Planning Board shall resolve all questions of interpretation of this chapter. Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Planning Board may apply to the Supreme Court for review by a proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules in accordance with Article 7 of the New York State Village Law.
No sign shall be erected, moved, added to or structurally changed without a permit therefor issued by the Codes Official. Any sign application meeting all the requirements as set forth in this chapter may be issued a permit by the Codes Official without further review. Questions of interpretation and/or requests or variance shall be forwarded through the Codes Official to the Planning Board for action.
All applications for sign permits shall be accompanied by a sketch or plans showing the actual dimensions, shape, coloring, lettering and height of the sign, and details of any planned illuminating device, the sign location with respect to property lines, buildings and any existing signs and such other information as may lawfully be required by the Codes Official to determine conformance with and to provide for the enforcement of this chapter.
Exceptions. A sign to be repainted or repaired to exact duplication of the original shall not require a permit. A sign to be repainted utilizing a different color scheme than the original shall require only a sketch, including color.
The Codes Official shall process, within seven days of receipt, a completed application form and required fee, and within the same seven days, any questions of interpretation shall be referred to the Planning Board for action.
The Planning Board shall, within 21 days of receiving such plans, approve, approve with modifications or disapprove said plans. The Board shall report to the applicant and, if said plans are rejected, shall indicate the reason or reasons therefor. An aggrieved applicant shall be entitled to request a variance pursuant to § 97-9.
The following types of signs may be erected and maintained without permits or fees, provided that such signs comply with the general requirements of this chapter and other conditions specifically imposed by this chapter:
Historical markers, tablets and statues, memorial signs and plaques; names of buildings and dates of erection when cut into any masonry surface or when constructed of bronze, stainless steel or similar material; and emblems installed by governmental agencies, religious or nonprofit organizations, not exceeding six square feet.
Flags and insignia of any government, except when displayed in connection with commercial promotion.
On-premises directional signs not to exceed two square feet, for the convenience of the general public, identifying parking areas, fire zones, entrances and exits and similar signs, internally or externally illuminated. Business names on said signs shall be allowed, excluding advertising messages.
Nonilluminated warning, private drive, posted or no trespassing signs, not exceeding two square feet.
Number and nameplates identifying residents, mounted on a house, apartment or mailbox, not exceeding one square foot in area.
Lawn signs identifying residents, not exceeding one square foot. Such signs are to be nonilluminated except by a light which is an integral part of a lamppost if used as a support, with no advertising message thereon.
Private-owner merchandise sale signs, located on the property, for garage sales and auctions, not exceeding four square feet for a period not exceeding seven days.
Temporary nonilluminated window signs and posters. Placement shall not exceed 30 days.
Holiday decorations, without integrated business identification, including lighting, are exempt from the provisions of this chapter and may be displayed in any district without a permit until 30 days after the holiday.
At gasoline stations, the integral graphics or attached price signs on gasoline pumps.
Directional signs for meetings, conventions and other assemblies, provided that said signs are removed within 24 hours of the event.
One sign, not exceeding 12 square feet, listing the architect, engineer, contractor and/or owner, on the premises where construction is in progress, and shall be removed promptly on completion or discontinuance of work.
One sign, not exceeding six square feet, advertising the sale or rent of the land or building upon which it is located. Such signs shall be removed within two weeks of the sale or rental of the property.
Signs erected by governmental authorities in carrying out their official functions.
Temporary signs erected to publicize events sponsored by local civic or charitable or nonprofit, or religious organizations, provided that such signs are erected not more than 48 hours before the event and are removed within 24 hours after the event. [See § 97-10A(2)(a), Long-term temporary signs.]
Signs mandated by law that a business must post.
This chapter recognizes the existence of signs which would not conform to the provisions of this chapter. It is the intent of this chapter to permit these nonconforming signs to continue until they are removed or discontinued. It is further the intent of this chapter that a nonconforming sign shall not be replaced with another nonconforming sign nor enlarged upon nor used as grounds for adding to or otherwise amending the sign. In any case of noncompliance, the Codes Official shall take appropriate action in accordance with § 97-11 of this chapter.
If a non-conforming sign is temporarily removed for any reason, including but not limited to painting, repair or other normal maintenance purposes, it shall be restored within one month. Such restoral shall not be permitted if this period of time is exceeded.
Signs to be removed.
Outdated signs, except historic wall signs, advertising past events, products no longer sold or business no longer conducted shall be promptly removed by the permit holder or property owner.
Unsafe or insecure signs shall be repaired or removed. The Codes Official may cause any sign of immediate danger to persons or property to be removed summarily.
Applications for erecting or moving a sign, as well as the filing of a request for a variance by the Planning Board, shall be accompanied by the fees as established in the Schedule of Fees and adopted by the Board of Trustees. The following shall not require the payment of a fee:
Resubmission of an application adopting suggested modifications of the Planning Board.
Permit applications for the painting or repair of a sign that is an exact duplicate of the existing sign.
Permit and/or variance applications for the erection of wall signs, projecting signs and freestanding signs by churches, religious organizations and not-for-profit organizations.
A variance is a relaxation of terms of this chapter where such variance will not be contrary to the public interest and where, owing to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of the actions of the applicant, a literal enforcement of the law would result in unnecessary and undue hardship.
The Planning Board may, after public notice and public hearing, vary or modify the application of this chapter in harmony with its general purposes and intent as stated in § 97-1, and may impose reasonable conditions. Such notice must appear in the official Village newspaper no less than five calendar days prior to the public hearing.
A variance is an exception made by the Planning Board to permit a sign to be designed or placed in a way that is not permitted by this chapter or affiliated regulations. There are two types of variances, use and area. The granting of each type is subject to a different set of conditions. A use variance is needed if the purpose to which a sign is put is not permitted in that district. An area variance is needed when the sign does not meet the bulk requirements governing that district. Bulk requirements are such things as size, height, lettering, design, etc.
Use Variance. The Planning Board may grant a variance to use a sign for a purpose not permitted in that district. If there is a hardship created by observing the letter of the law, the spirit of the law must be observed and the following conditions apply in order to grant the variance:
That unique circumstances exist for the building or land in question which are not generally found throughout the district and which deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of such building or land.
That granting the variance will be in harmony with the spirit and intent of this chapter and will not alter the essential character or quality of the neighborhood, endanger public health or safety or substantially diminish or impair property values in the neighborhood.
Area variance. The Planning Board may grant a variance from the strict letter of the law when practical difficulty exists which makes regulations governing sign size, height, design, lettering or other regulations related to signs or placement thereof, not specifically referring to use, unreasonable or impossible to comply with. The spirit of the law must be observed and the following conditions apply in order to grant the variance:
That the owner of the property is experiencing financial hardship or other significant injury because of such bulk regulations.
That the applicant's intended objective is reasonable, and there is no way to accomplish such objective if the bulk regulations of this chapter are observed.
That the variance requested will not be unduly detrimental to adjoining properties and will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood.
That the problem to be solved is not self-created by the applicant.
Application for a variance is made in writing. The applicant must submit a site plan, scaled drawing or sketch of the proposed sign or signs and a narrative describing the nature of the variance needed and the grounds on which it is requested. An application fee is payable to the Village of Greene upon submission of the application. The decision on whether to grant the variance shall be made by the Planning Board after it holds a public hearing.
All zoning districts.
The following are specifically prohibited:
Signs so located as to restrict vision and impair safety.
Lighting devices so placed or directed as to permit the illumination therefrom to be directed or beamed upon a public street, highway, sidewalk or nearby premises so as to cause glare or reflection that constitutes a hazard or nuisance.
Banners, posters, pennants, flags, ribbons, spinners, balloons, streamers or other similar moving, fluttering or revolving devices, whether part of a sign or used for the purpose of advertising or attracting attention when not part of a sign. Exceptions may be granted upon application to the Codes Official in business or commercial districts for firms promoting products or services for a period not to exceed 15 consecutive days and with a frequency not to exceed quarterly. The exception shall be "open for business" flags during business hours.
Freestanding signs, unless all parts thereof are at least four feet back from the street line and not exceeding 20 feet above normal grade.
Signs illuminated by or containing flashing, intermittent, rotating or moving lights or devices.
Off-premises signs (nonaccessory), except through a variance granted by the Planning Board.
Lighted movable awnings.
Signs mounted on roofs.
The unauthorized use of Village property, including but not limited to placing signs on public utility poles, trees, and shrubs and on other signs directing or guiding traffic.
Signs having more than two faces, except through a variance granted by the Planning Board.
The following are allowed by permit:
Long-term temporary signs: signs erected to publicize events sponsored by local civic or charitable or nonprofit or religious organizations. Such signs are to be erected not more than 30 days before the event and are to be removed within 24 hours after the event. The permit fee will be returned following the removal of the signs within the above limits. (Also see § 97-6P.)
Temporary seasonal business signs: signs erected off-premises for the purpose of advertising seasonal business or seasonal services. The sign shall be constructed of durable construction material, be no more than 12 square feet and shall be of common color, lettering and design and shall not be illuminated. The sign shall be freestanding and be set back at least 10 feet distant from any street line. A limit of one temporary seasonal business sign may be erected on any off-premises property during the same period. Written proof of approval from the property owner must be submitted with the permit application. The erected sign shall not exceed 45 days unless approval of a variance is received before the 46th day. The number of off-premises signs per business shall not exceed two.
[Added 5-12-1997 by L.L. No. 2-1997]
Signs for legal nonresidential properties located in residential districts under Chapter 125, Zoning, which are not residential in character may be regulated by variance under the provisions for business and commercial districts if regulation hereunder would be contrary to the history of the property, nature of the surroundings and common sense.
All signs shall be at least 10 feet distant from the street line.
Commercial, Commercial Service and Industrial Districts.
The following are allowed by permit:
One projecting or freestanding sign and one wall sign are permitted for each business establishment for each face of the building. Businesses having more than 180 feet of frontage on one street may have two projecting or freestanding and wall signs.
Wall signs shall be limited to a maximum area in square feet equivalent to three times the building front footage, not to exceed 80 square feet.
One projecting or wall sign for non-street-level businesses is allowed at ground floor level, not to exceed six square feet. The sign shall be apportioned according to the number of businesses and shall be of common color, lettering and design.
A projecting sign may be no more than 24 square feet, attached to a building and project not more than seven feet from the building, and be at least 10 feet above ground level.
Signage on awnings may be used in place of a projecting sign. The total amount of sign area may be no more than 24 square feet. Sign area shall be computed by assuming a rectangular border surrounding the actual message area(s). The height of the awning shall meet industry standards for safe pedestrian access.
A free-standing sign may be no more than 12 square feet and shall be set back at least four feet from the street line.
One portable sign per each business establishment may be displayed during business hours not more than three feet from the building, which shall be of sandwich board construction, not more than 12 square feet, and consistent in form, color, lettering and design with existing establishment signs, and not more than four feet high when opened.
Exception One. On Genesee Street from Monell Street, extended to the western limit of the Commercial District, and on South Chenango Street to Foundry Street and on North Chenango Street to the northern limit of the Commercial District, portable signs shall be placed on the grass area and located contiguous to the outside edge of the sidewalk.
Exception Two. If, in the opinion of the Codes Official, the placement of a portable sign according to the guidelines creates a hazard to the public or is contrary to the intent of this chapter, he may direct the relocation of said sign.
Exception Three. To locate a sign in a position other than described in these guidelines shall require a variance from the Planning Board.
The Village Board of Trustees or their agents or their employees shall administer and enforce this chapter.
If the Codes Official shall find that any of the provisions of this chapter are being violated, he shall notify, in writing, the person responsible for such violations and the Village Board of Trustees, indicating the nature of such violations and ordering the action necessary to correct it. The Codes Official is empowered to order the removal or discontinuance of illegal signs or of additions, alterations or structural changes thereto or to take any other action authorized by law to ensure compliance with or to prevent violations of its provisions.
Any person, whether agent, architect, builder, contractor, owner, tenant or otherwise, who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a maximum fine of $250 or to imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both, for any violation. Each day that any violation continues shall be a separate offense. Questions of enforcement of this chapter shall be resolved by the Village Board of Trustees.
In the interpretation and application of this chapter, the provisions thereof shall be held to be minimum requirements and are not intended to repeal, modify or impair any existing provisions of law relative to the use of signs. This law shall apply only where it imposes greater restrictions upon the use of signs than are required by existing provisions of law. In case of conflict with existing or future provisions of the law, the most restrictive provisions of the statutes applicable shall apply.
This chapter is applicable within the Village of Greene and shall be construed as an exercise of the powers of such Village to regulate, control and restrict the use of buildings, structures and land for outdoor advertising purposes, displays, signs and other advertising media in order to promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community, including the protection and preservation of the property of the Village and its inhabitants and of peace and good order for the benefit of trade and all matters related thereto.