Borough of Emerson, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Emerson 12-2-2008 by Ord. No. 1359.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Signs associated with laundromats — See Ch. 176.
Handicapped parking signs — See Ch. 194.
Signs in public parking lots — See Ch. 196.
Posting signs in parks — See Ch. 200.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 216.
Site plan review — See Ch. 236.
Hack stand and taxi signs — See Ch. 260.
Tobacco sale restriction signs — See Ch. 262.
Signs on trees — See Ch. 266.
Zoning — See Ch. 290.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 232, Signs and Awnings, adopted 2-20-2001 by Ord. No. 1157.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AREA
The surface area computed by drawing a rectangle touching the outermost edges of letters comprising the sign or the area established by reason of distinctive variation in background color, by borders or by some other equivalent manner, whichever is greater.
AWNINGS
Any canopy or covering consisting of a rigid frame and canvas or vinyl material covering, which shelters the entrance or window area of a building from the elements.
FACADE
The area from grade level to the top of the highest point of the structure and extending the full width of the structure.
MOVING SIGN
Any sign whereby the sign or a portion thereof is not fixed as a whole or in part moves from its fixed position. This definition shall not preclude a sign from incorporating a clock or temperature reading indicator.
NONCOMMERCIAL SPEECH SIGN
Any sign containing a political, philosophical, religious or other public interest message not used for commercial purposes and not made in furtherance or promotion of a commercial product, service or enterprise.
SIGN
Any inscription, written, printed, painted or otherwise placed on a board, plate, banner or upon any material object or any device whatsoever, which, by reason of its form, color, wording, activity or technique, or otherwise, attracts attention to itself, whether it be used as a means of identification, advertisement or announcement. A sign shall also include a description, display or illustration which is affixed to any building structure or part thereof or any piece of land which displays or includes any letter, word, banner, model, flag, pennant, insignia, device or representation used as or which is in the nature of an announcement, direction or advertisement. For the purposes of this chapter, the word "sign" does not include the flag, pennant or insignia of any nation, group of nations, MIA/POW, states, cities or other governmental unit; noncommercial speech signs except as herein provided; yard signs except as herein provided; signs erected by the Borough of Emerson or any other state, county or municipal public body or agency; traffic signs, memorial signs or tablets cut into any masonry surface or when constructed of bronze or other incombustible material; or the number and name of the street upon which the building is located. This term shall apply only to such signs as are visible and intelligible to persons located outside the building.
WINDOW SIGN
A sign located on the inside of a window, or a sign being visible from the exterior, or a sign secured to the outside face on a window.
Except for those signs specifically excluded from the requirements of this chapter, no sign, awning or canopy shall be erected without a permit issued by the Construction Official, which permit shall only be used for signs, awnings or canopies which comply with the following rules and regulations:
A. 
No sign shall be erected or replaced upon the roof of a building.
B. 
Where a nonconforming sign exists on the property, all applications for additional signs shall require approval of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
C. 
Window signs shall not exceed 20% of the total area of the window, and no window sign shall be more than two feet in height. If there is more than one sign in any window, then said signs shall be grouped together but shall not, as a group, cover more than 20% of the square footage of said window. Any window sign shall be located at either the top section of the window or the bottom section of the window. No window sign or group of signs shall be permitted above the first floor of any building unless the user of the space occupies the area above the first floor only. No such sign shall be illuminated. All civic or charitable organization signs shall be confined to two feet in height and considered temporary and shall be subject to § 232-2M of this chapter. Civic or charitable organization signs shall not be included in the twenty-percent coverage permitted for window signs. One credit card sign per credit card company and an "open" and/or "closed" sign shall be permitted and shall not constitute part of the twenty-percent permitted window coverage.
D. 
No sign shall consist of more than four colors, inclusive of black and white.
E. 
If a sign which is conforming is destroyed, it may be rebuilt or repaired to its original condition without obtaining a permit. The Construction Code Official and Zoning Officer must be notified, in writing, of the restoration of the conforming sign.
F. 
No sign shall be illuminated by lighting of intermittent or varying intensity nor by channel light. Lights shall not be arranged so that they line the perimeter of any window. Temporary holiday lighting is excluded from this prohibition.
G. 
Business signs may be illuminated, but shall not be painted with or composed of neon, fluorescent, phosphorescent, or psychedelic colors or similar material. Sculptured neon signs, either suspended in windows or mounted on the facade to the extent that such signs are visible from the traveled way are prohibited. Illuminated signs shall have sources of reflective light shielded in such manner that the same are not visible from the street or adjoining properties.
H. 
All signs and all external lighting used in connection with the operation of any business shall be extinguished by 11:00 p.m., unless the business continues in operation and is open to the public past that hour. In addition to the foregoing, the Zoning Board of Adjustment may authorize lighting specifically designed for the safety and protection of properties otherwise subject to this section, which lighting, when so authorized, shall be exempt from the provisions hereof.
I. 
Permitted lighting for illuminated signs shall be limited to that concentrated upon the face of the sign. All outdoor lighting shall conform to the standards established for outdoor lighting under this chapter. All bulbs illuminating the sign must be working. If one or more bulbs has burned out or is not operational, then all the bulbs illuminating the sign must be turned off. Flashing bulbs are not permitted.
J. 
Signs in residential areas, with the exception of occupational signs, signs permitted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board, "for sale" or "for rent" signs, noncommercial speech signs and yard sale signs, as provided in Code §§ 232-3 and 290-24, are not permitted.
K. 
No billboards are permitted.
L. 
Ground signs may be permitted only after specific approval of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
M. 
Pennants, banners or buntings are permitted, subject to the approval of and permit from the Construction Official, for a consecutive period of no more than 60 days and for no more than two nonconsecutive periods per calendar year. The minimum duration of the break between the nonconsecutive periods shall be 60 days. No pennants, banners or buntings, either permanent or temporary, shall be displayed upon public property, streets or rights-of-way, nor shall they hinder or affect any sight triangle. The United States flag, the state flag, the county and the municipal flag may be displayed. In addition, flags of other states of the United States, other sovereign nations, MIA/POW flags and seasonal decorative flags may also be displayed. Multiple displays of any flag or flags in such a manner as to be reasonably considered advertising shall not be permitted.
[Amended 5-20-2014 by Ord. No. 1478]
N. 
No sign shall be permitted which competes for attention with, or may be mistaken for, a traffic signal.
O. 
No sign shall extend more that eight inches beyond the face of a building or fascia to which it is attached.
P. 
No sign shall be permitted on a property unless it is related to the occupancy of that property. It is the responsibility of the owner to remove all signs which do not relate to an occupancy of the property.
Q. 
Company logos may be permitted on a commercial sign only after specific approval of the Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board.
R. 
No vehicle or mobile sign shall be used to circumvent these regulations.
S. 
No sandwich signs or similar temporary signs shall be permitted.[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: For information regarding the minimum fine for violation, see the Schedule of Minimum Fines, which is located in Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II, General Penalty.
T. 
No sign or illustration shall utilize body parts or symbols, except as same are part of company logos, as part of the sign or advertisement.
U. 
Change of occupancy. Upon the termination of an occupancy of any premises, it shall be the duty of the owner of such premises to require that any signs used in connection with that occupancy be removed from the premises within five days after termination of said occupancy.
V. 
No revolving or moving signs shall be permitted.
W. 
Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, no freestanding signs shall be permitted.
X. 
All signs or awnings must be properly maintained so as to be free of any unsightly condition, unkempt appearance or safety hazard that adversely affects the aesthetic quality of the surrounding neighborhood.
The following signs shall be permitted in all zones:
A. 
A nonilluminated nameplate, with the name of the principal occupant or the street number or name of a private dwelling, with an area of not more than one square foot. The title or profession of the principal occupant may also be on such sign.
B. 
A single-face sign or bulletin board for a place of worship, school, library, club or other public or quasipublic building or use, with an area of not more than 24 square feet and a maximum length of 6 1/2 feet. Such signs may be illuminated but shall be arranged so as to prevent glare. Such signs shall not be lighted between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
C. 
A nonilluminated temporary sign giving the names of architects, engineers, landscapers, general contractors, subcontractors, project title and sponsor, owner or tenant, located on a lot during actual construction or work on the premises, for a period not to exceed 180 days. Only one such location for a sign shall be permitted, which shall be at the principal entrance, but at least 10 feet from the street property line. The sign shall be removed within seven days after the completion of the construction work. The total area of such sign shall not exceed 24 square feet in area or six feet in length.
D. 
A nonilluminated temporary sign for announcing or advertising any educational, charitable, philanthropic, civic, religious or similar drive, movement or event for four periods, not exceeding 30 days per period in any calendar year. The total area of all such signs on a lot shall not exceed 24 square feet or six feet in length.
E. 
A nonilluminated temporary sign for advertising the immediate premises for sale or lease which is located upon the premises may have an area of not more than four square feet in surface area. Said sign shall not remain for more than 90 consecutive days for a commercial premises, and not more than 180 days for residential premises and must be set back 10 feet from the street property line, where the lot configuration so permits.
F. 
Wall signs for retail use shall be limited to one illuminated or nonilluminated sign on the principal front facade of the building, provided that where a retail use is located on a corner lot, it may have a second sign on the wall facing the side street, which second sign shall not exceed 50% of that permitted on the principal front facade. The front facade sign shall not exceed a size of 1.5 square feet of sign area for each linear front foot of the building, or 24 square feet, whichever is less. The lettering on retail signs shall be limited to the principal name of the company and its principal product of sale or occupation.
G. 
In the event of a multiple use of a retail building, one sign shall be permitted for each such use on the first floor of the front facade. The sign for each such retail use shall not exceed 24 square feet or 1.5 square feet for each linear front foot of the building, whichever is less. Where a retail use is located on a corner, such use may have a second sign on the wall facing the side street, which second sign shall not exceed 50% of that permitted on the principal front facade.
H. 
Wall signs for office buildings, laboratories or nonretail commercial uses shall have the same requirements as the signs for retail uses covered under this chapter, with the exception that its lettering shall be limited to the names of the occupants, a numerical sign indicating the street address of the building, and the name of the building. Also, buildings exceeding 10,000 square feet of front facade can increase their sign size to 5% of the area of the front facade or a size of 100 square feet, whichever is less.
I. 
Ground signs, not including noncommercial speech signs, for office buildings, laboratories, nonretail commercial or retail uses are permitted, with the limitation of one double-faced illuminated or nonilluminated sign allowed per building at a location at least 10 feet back from the street property line and of a size not to exceed 18 square feet and/or nine feet in length. The top of the sign shall not exceed six feet above the average grade at the sign location. The lettering on such sign shall be limited to the name of the building or of the occupant and its principal product of sale or its occupation. Multiuse buildings will be permitted to list their occupants; however, no increase in size from a single occupancy will be permitted.
[Amended 2-2-2016 by Ord. No. 1514]
J. 
Directory signs are permitted. The total area shall not exceed eight square feet. The directory sign shall not be included in computing the footage of ground and/or facade signs.
K. 
A double-faced or single-faced entrance/exit sign shall be permitted for any building. The square foot area of the sign shall not be deducted from the allowed square footage permitted for the ground and wall signs permitted for the property. Such signs shall be uniform in size, comply with the standards of the Uniform Manual of Traffic Control Devices and shall, as a minimum, meet the following requirements:
(1) 
Size. The size shall be two feet in height, four feet in length and 12 inches in depth.
(2) 
Lettering. Lettering shall be limited to only the name of the principal occupant and the word "Entrance" or "Exit."
(3) 
Coloring. Black letters on a white background shall be employed.
(4) 
Illumination. The sign must be reflective-surfaced or of illumination which shall conform to the standards established for outdoor lighting under this chapter.
(5) 
Height. The height of the sign from mean ground level shall not exceed four feet.
(6) 
Location. The sign shall be placed on the far side of the entrance driveway relative to the direction of the traffic flow and shall be located on the owner's property with no required setback from the property line.
L. 
Canopy and awning signs shall be permitted, provided that the proposed canopy or awning is consistent in color, shape and size with the building to which it is annexed and is consistent with the character of any existing canopy or awning signs in the neighborhood, and further provided that the metal or rigid frame portion of the sign shall not extend more than five feet from the face of the building and must be a minimum of seven feet in height from the base of the door. In no event shall any canopy or awning consist of more than four colors, inclusive of black and white. The lettering on the canopy shall be limited to the name of the occupant only, which shall be included in determining the color and other sign calculations. In the event a building has more than one canopy then all canopies shall be uniform in color, shape and design.
M. 
Service station, automobile repair shop or public garage signs.
(1) 
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, a gasoline service station or a public garage may display:
(a) 
One freestanding or pylon sign advertising the name of the station or garage and for the principal product sold on the premises, including any special company or brand name insignia, logo or emblem, provided that such sign shall not exceed 32 square feet in total sign area and shall not be hung closer than five feet from the property line and not less than 10 nor more than 20 feet above the ground, and/or one sign on the building.
(b) 
One temporary sign attached to the wall of the building and specifically advertising special seasonal servicing of automobiles, provided that said sign does not exceed seven square feet in area.
(c) 
Directional signs or lettering displayed over individual entrances, doors or bays, limited to one sign not exceeding 12 inches in height and the total of which shall not exceed six square feet for each entrance or bay.
(d) 
Customary lettering or insignias which are not a structural part of a gasoline pump, consisting only of the brand name of the gasoline sold, a lead warning sign, a price indicator and any other sign required by law, not exceeding a total of three square feet on each pump.
(e) 
One nonilluminated credit card sign, not exceeding two square feet in area, to be placed on or near the gasoline pump.
(2) 
Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to create a permitted use for a gasoline service station. The construction of a canopy over gasoline pumps or pump island shall be in conformance with this chapter or as otherwise permitted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
N. 
Noncommercial speech signs.
(1) 
Noncommercial speech signs shall be permitted in all zones, including residential zones, subject to the requirements of §§ 232-2 and 290-24. Notwithstanding the foregoing, noncommercial signs are exempt from all permit and fee requirements in this chapter and shall be permitted to be freestanding.
(2) 
No noncommercial speech sign shall be erected or posted on private property without the express consent of the owner or lawful occupant of the property, who shall then be responsible for compliance with this section.
[Added 2-2-2016 by Ord. No. 1514[1]]
[1]
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also provided for the renumbering of former Subsection N(2) through (4) as Subsection N(3) through (5), respectively.
(3) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, or other ordinance, any sign that may display a commercial message may also display a noncommercial message, either in place of or in addition to the commercial message, so long as the sign complies with other requirements of this section or other ordinances that do not pertain to the content of the message displayed.
(4) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, or other ordinance, any sign that may display one type of noncommercial message may also display any other type of noncommercial message, so long as the sign complies with other requirements of this Code or other ordinances that do not pertain to the content of the message displayed.
(5) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, or other ordinance, any sign displaying a noncommercial message may not be more than six square feet in size or more than four feet off of the ground. No more than two signs displaying a noncommercial message are permitted on a single property or parcel of land.
[Added 8-7-2012 by Ord. No. 1447]
(6) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or other ordinance, noncommercial speech signs are permitted on residential properties from the curbline to the end of the Borough right-of-way; however, such signs may not obstruct traffic or sight lines. If the noncommercial speech sign affects the line of sight of traffic, the Borough may request of the owner that such sign be removed or relocated.
[Added 2-2-2016 by Ord. No. 1514]
A. 
It is the intention of this chapter to classify signs and awnings as an accessory to the building. Thus, all signs and awnings shall be designed to maintain and be consistent with the aesthetic design of the structure and the character of the neighborhood, in addition to identifying the structure and the services rendered therein.
B. 
All sign and awning applications shall be submitted to the Construction Official and shall depict on a drawing all the sign or awning data necessary to evaluate compliance with this chapter, including size, colors with color swatch, the method of illumination of any materials of the sign and a location drawing showing the full facade of the building on which any proposed wall sign is to be placed. The application shall further contain the written consent of the persons, owners, possessors, lessees, agents or trustees having ownership and charge of the property on which it is proposed to erect, construct, maintain, alter, change, move, repair or attach such sign. A copy of said application shall also be submitted to the Planning Board or Zoning Board, as required or in conjunction with an application to such Board where signs will be added, repaired or replaced.
C. 
A site plan bearing the seal of a New Jersey engineer or architect must be submitted with each ground sign application indicating thereon the location of the ground sign and setback measurements from the street lines.
A. 
There shall be no fee assessed nor collected for any permitted sign of any governmental, municipal, charitable organization, civic or religious group.
B. 
There shall be no fee assessed nor collected for any noncommercial sign or yard sale sign.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsections C and D, concerning the permit fee to construct a sign and the annual fee for businesses maintaining a sign, respectively, which immediately followed this subsection, were repealed 3-2-2010 by Ord. No. 1395.
[Amended 3-2-2010 by Ord. No. 1395]
A. 
Part of the duties of the Zoning Officer shall include commercial sign inspections.
B. 
The Zoning Officer shall periodically inspect and monitor all signs of the Borough to ensure that they are in compliance in accordance with all applicable local legislation and statutory codes.
Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the terms or provisions of this chapter shall, for each violation, be subject to a fine which shall be at least $100 and not more than $1,000. Each day that any sign or device is maintained contrary to the provisions hereof shall be considered a separate and distinct violation of this chapter.