Town of Union, NY
Broome County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The primary purpose of these sign regulations in the Town and Villages is to identify the location or occupant for a parcel of land while protecting public health, safety and general welfare. These regulations also serve to:
A. 
Ensure right to free speech as protected under the Constitution;
B. 
Protect property values, create a more attractive economic and business climate and protect the physical appearance of the community;
C. 
Provide businesses with effective means of identification while reducing visual clutter through the prevention of excessive and confusing sign displays;
D. 
Reduce traffic conflicts or hazards by minimizing visual distractions or obstacles in or visible from the public rights-of-way;
E. 
Minimize the adverse effect of signs on nearby public and private property;
F. 
Avoid personal injury and property damage from unsafe or confusing signs; and
G. 
Establish a clear and impartial process for those seeking to install signs.
The following apply to all signs in the Town and Villages which are erected or installed after the effective date of this chapter:
A. 
Signs cannot be located on a public right-of-way or public property and must be located on the property on which the business is located unless it is a legally established billboard;
B. 
No sign shall obstruct the view at the intersection of any streets or be confused with traffic management signs or signals;
C. 
If the property/structure contains walls facing more than one property line, the number of signs and the sign areas will be computed separately for each face of the building facing a different frontage;
D. 
Any sign that no longer advertises the use of the property must be removed within 30 days after written notification from the Code Enforcement Officer; and
E. 
Temporary signs:
(1) 
No temporary sign is allowed for more than 30 days with no more than one thirty-day extension.
(2) 
Size of temporary signs is regulated by the provisions in these regulations, but shall not be in excess of the size permitted for any permanent sign of similar type or configuration within specific zones.
(3) 
Any sign requiring electricity must conform to requirements for permanent signs requiring electricity under this chapter.
The following types of signs may be erected in the Town and Villages without obtaining a permit. Although permits are not required for these signs, the signs shall conform to the height, setback and size requirements detailed in this chapter.
A. 
Official sign, public notice sign, or warning sign supported by federal, state or local law (Example: New York State inspection station or authorized repair shop identification.);
B. 
Any sign within a building not legible from the street or adjacent lots;
C. 
Any sign within an enclosed outdoor space, such as athletic field, where the sign is not legible beyond the property lines;
D. 
Works of art not displaying a commercial message;
E. 
Banners not displaying a commercial message;
F. 
Holiday decorations not displaying a commercial message;
G. 
Construction signs: one sign per construction project, not exceeding 32 square feet in area in residential districts or 64 square feet in all other districts, provided that such signs shall be removed five days after the completion of construction or the placement of a permanent sign. The signs shall be confined to the construction site.
H. 
Directional signs: signs which provide direction and are located entirely on the property to which they pertain and do not advertise a business and do not exceed four square feet in area. Directional signs include signs identifying public rest rooms, public telephones, walkways or signs providing direction, such as parking lot entrance and exit signs, and those of a similar nature. Such directional signs shall be allowed within the street setbacks and side and rear yards.
I. 
Drive-in facilities.
(1) 
Businesses with drive-in facilities may have one sign, not exceeding 24 square feet for each drive-in lane. The sign shall be located adjacent to the drive-in lane and shall be easily visible to motorists using the lane. If the drive-in lane or facility is removed or not operating for a period exceeding 60 days, the sign must be removed.
(2) 
Such signs shall only provide information which will assist the motorist in using the facility. Such signs may include but shall not be limited to menus, banking instructions, manual car wash instructions and other signs of a similar character. Advertising is not permitted on these signs.
J. 
Flags: the flags, emblems or insignia of any nation, political subdivision or corporation flag. Flagpoles shall be subject to the height restrictions imposed by each respective zoning district. Corporate flags shall be limited to one per lot and shall count against calculation of permitted wall signage.
K. 
Gasoline service station price signs: signs not exceeding three square feet advertising the price of gasoline and indicating self-service or full-service, when attached to a gasoline pump or pump service island.
L. 
Government signs: signs erected and maintained pursuant to and in discharge of any government function. There are no bulk requirements for government signs.
M. 
Home occupation signs: one sign for each dwelling unit, not to exceed two square feet in area, indicating the name, location or identification of a home occupation, with a minimum street setback of 10 feet.
N. 
House numbers and nameplates: house numbers and nameplates, not exceeding two square feet in area for each dwelling unit.
O. 
Memorial signs: memorial signs or tablets, names of buildings and date of erection, when cut into any masonry surface or inlaid so as to be part of the building or when constructed of bronze or other similar noncombustible material; historical markers erected by any government body or with a government permit. There are no bulk requirements for memorial signs.
P. 
"No Trespassing" and "No Dumping" signs: "No Trespassing" and "No Dumping" signs not to exceed two square feet in area per sign. Such signs shall be permitted within the street setback and side and rear yards.
Q. 
Multifamily retail and subdivision sales signs. One sign shall be permitted; its purpose is to advertise the availability of rental units, subdivision lots and houses. The sign may contain information on rent levels, numbers of bedrooms, housing prices, financing, descriptive matter and the like. The sign shall be limited to 32 square feet in size. The sign may be located on any lot within the subdivision or multifamily project area, but shall not be located upon a public right-of-way. The sign shall be subject to the restrictions and regulations of the zoning district in which it is located.
R. 
Notice bulletin boards: notice bulletin boards not over 24 square feet in area for public, charitable or religious institutions where the same is located on the premises of the institution.
S. 
Political and campaign signs: political and campaign signs on behalf of candidates for public office or measures on election ballots, provided that the signs are subject to the following regulations:
(1) 
Political and campaign signs are permitted in all zoning districts.
(2) 
The signs shall not be erected earlier than 30 days prior to a primary or special election and 60 days prior to a general election. All signs shall be removed within five days following said election.
(3) 
The number of signs on any one parcel of land is not restricted, but the total combined size of the signs shall not exceed 32 square feet in area and shall not exceed five feet in height from the surrounding grade. In addition, in residential zoning districts, no individual sign shall exceed 16 square feet in size. Signs shall not be erected in such a manner as to constitute a roof sign. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, a sign may be placed upon any legally existing off-premises sign structure, but not so as to cover an already existing sign.
(4) 
No signs shall be located within or over a public right-of-way. All signs shall comply with the provisions of § 300-53.14, Visibility at intersections.
(5) 
This section in no way prohibits the display or use of bumper stickers, cartop signs and signs inside the window of a building.
T. 
Portable signs. Portable signs shall be permitted in the following situations:
(1) 
New businesses awaiting the erection of a permanent sign, not to exceed a period of 30 days.
(2) 
A business which has lost the use of an existing sign by reason of fire or other catastrophe, not to exceed a period of 30 days.
U. 
Real estate signs: one real estate sign on any lot or parcel, provided that such sign is located entirely within the property to which the sign applies, is not directly illuminated, does not exceed six square feet in area in a residential district and 16 square feet in area for industrial/commercial property in a commercial/industrial zoning district and is removed within seven days after the sale, closing, rental or leasing.
[Amended 3-16-2016 by L.L. No. 2-2016]
V. 
Sandwich board signs. One sandwich board sign is permitted for each business. Said sign cannot exceed six square feet in area. Said sign must be removed at the close of each business day. Said sign must comply with applicable provisions in § 300-52.7 of this article. Said sign shall not require a sign permit.
(1) 
Said sign cannot be located on a public right-of-way or public property and must be located on the property on which the business is located.
(2) 
Businesses located within the Central Business Zoning District, which under normal circumstances would be prohibited from erecting a sandwich board due to the lack of ownership of sufficient frontage, may place a sandwich board sign within the public right-of-way between May 1 and October 31 of each year during business hours. Said sign cannot be wider than 1/3 the width of the sidewalk in front of the business and shall be erected in such a place and in such a fashion as to make it as unobtrusive as possible for pedestrian traffic. The Villages shall retain the right to request movement of the sign if it determines that the sign was not erected in such a fashion and that a different placement would provide less obstruction to pedestrian traffic. The business must file with the Village Clerk a certificate of insurance, annually, naming the Village as an additional insured, certifying that the applicant has obtained, from a responsible and reputable company, a policy of public liability insurance with limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence/$2,000,000 annual aggregate, for personal injury and property damage combined, covering any claim, demand or action for damages, either to person(s) or property, which may arise out of the placement of the sign within the right-of-way.
W. 
Limited signs.
(1) 
Signs and notices advertising an open house, garage sale or similar event may be placed no more than five days prior to the event and must be removed within three days of the conclusion of the event. These signs must be placed on the property where the open house, garage sale or similar event is being held.
(2) 
Signs or notices advertising events or activities of churches or other not-for-profit organizations may be placed no more than 15 days prior to the event and must be removed within three days of the conclusion of the event. These signs must be placed on the property where the event or activity is being held or on a commercially zoned property.
The Table of Sign Regulations, located in Table 52-1,[1] lists the requirements for different types of permitted signs that might be proposed for installation in the Town and Villages. The table addresses each type of sign by zoning category, listing whether each sign type is permitted in each zone, the number of signs permitted per site, and the information on sign size, setbacks, and lighting requirements.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 52-1, Table of Sign Regulations is included at the end of this chapter.
The following types of signs are prohibited:
A. 
Any sign for which no permit was issued or for which a permit has been revoked;
B. 
Any sign that has been abandoned/obsolete or is not properly maintained, considered structurally unsound, hazardous or otherwise unsafe;
C. 
Any sign that contains words or pictures of an obscene or pornographic nature;
D. 
Any sign that emits audible sounds, odor, or visible matter;
E. 
Any sign that may be confused with a traffic control sign, signal or device or the light of an emergency or road equipment vehicle or bears the words "stop" "go slow," "caution," "danger," "warning" or other similar words or hides from view any traffic or street sign, signal or device;
F. 
Signs that interfere with official traffic lights or traffic control devices;
G. 
Flashing, rotating, revolving signs/lights, except barber poles or holiday decorations; which do not violate Subsection C, D or E above;
H. 
Any sign with unshielded lighting devices or reflectors placed to outline or provide the background of a sign;
I. 
Animated signs;
J. 
Signs with mirrors;
K. 
Permanent banner, pennant, windblown or inflated signs. These may be permitted as a temporary sign to communicate the opening of a new business for a total of 10 days;
L. 
Any portable sign attached to or placed on an unregistered vehicle parked on private property for the primary purpose of being viewed by motorists within the right-of-way;
M. 
Pennants, not affixed to the face of a building; and
N. 
Any sign placed on a curb, sidewalk, hydrant, utility pole, trees or other objects located on or over any street unless otherwise permitted.
O. 
Full motion or video signs.
(See Table of Sign Regulations, for sign allowances.[1])
A. 
Residential districts.
(1) 
Signs advertising for public, quasi-public, nonprofit, church, schools, hospital or other similar uses shall be located on the same premises as the use.
(2) 
Project identification signs for large, multi-unit developments shall be permitted for a period not to exceed five years or whenever all the lots have been sold, whichever occurs first.
B. 
Nonresidential districts.
(1) 
Two signs per use are permitted for a single business or industry. Where contiguous businesses or industries are located on a single lot, such as, but not limited to, industrial centers, or business parks, each business or industry shall be permitted two signs and the lot may be permitted one sign.
(2) 
[2]Malls or plazas. Where groups of two or more contiguous stores are located together, one sign per use shall be permitted in addition to a single freestanding sign for the mall or plaza, subject to the Table of Sign Regulations (Table 52-1).
[2]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection B(2), regarding maximum sign areas, was repealed 3-16-2016 by L.L. No. 2-2016. This local law also redesignated former Subsection B(3) as Subsection B(2).
[1]
Editor's Note: The Table of Sign Regulations is included at the end of this chapter.
A. 
Design considerations.
(1) 
Location.
(a) 
All signs must be located on private property and comply with the dimension and setback requirements contained in the Table of Sign Regulations (Table 52-1).
(b) 
No sign shall be erected, relocated, or maintained so as to prevent ingress to or egress from any door, window, or fire escape.
(c) 
Signs projecting over walkways or sidewalks must have a minimum clearance between the bottom of the sign and the ground of nine feet. Signs projecting over a traffic area, such as a driveway or parking lot aisle must have a minimum clearance between the bottom of the sign and the ground of 15 feet.
(2) 
Sign area.
(a) 
The area of a sign will include all lettering, wording, and accompanying designs and symbols with the background area, but will not include any supports, framework, or bracing.
(b) 
The area of a sign applied to a building will include all lettering, wording and designs/symbols with the background area.
(c) 
When a sign consists of individual letters or symbols attached to or painted on a surface, the area will be considered to be the smallest rectangle that encompasses all letters/symbols.
[Amended 3-16-2016 by L.L. No. 2-2016]
(d) 
When computing the area of a double-face sign, both sides are considered to be a single sign.
(3) 
Signs shall be constructed from weather-resistant and durable materials (i.e., metal, lumber/wood, plastic, etc.).
(4) 
Wind pressure and load requirements. All signs and other advertising structures shall be designated and constructed to withstand a wind pressure of not less than 30 pounds per square foot.
(5) 
Lettering:
(a) 
Shall be permanently affixed to the sign; or
(b) 
Changeable copy shall be enclosed and locked.
(c) 
Digital messages:
[1] 
Digital messages or graphics are only permitted on monument style signs in the General Commercial Zoning District. Digital messages are prohibited on all other sign types and in all other zoning districts.
[2] 
The message shall change no more than once per day and shall consist of a single color.
[3] 
Digital message signs shall not be located within 500 feet of a residentially zoned property as measured along the street line on which the sign is located.
[4] 
The illumination from a digital message sign shall be controlled not to be visible from or cast light or shadows onto adjacent properties or cause unwanted glare in accordance with Article 55.
[5] 
The use of any digital messages on a site shall result in an overall reduction in the allotted sign area of 25%.
B. 
Construction specifications.
(1) 
Compliance with the NYS Uniform Code and other applicable codes and regulations;
(2) 
Light fixtures and related wiring will comply with the National Electric Code, and all electrified signs shall bear an approved testing laboratory label and all electrical connections shall be approved by an approved inspection agency;
(3) 
Transformers, wires, and similar items shall be concealed;
(4) 
All wiring to freestanding signs will be underground;
(5) 
All signs and related items will be kept in good repair and safe condition;
(6) 
A sign may not obstruct a fire escape;
(7) 
All signs requiring a permit will display the name and operating telephone number of the person/organization responsible for the sign; and
(8) 
No sign shall be located within six feet of an electrical conductor, light pole, streetlamp, traffic light, or other utility pole.
C. 
Illumination.
(1) 
Light sources shall be shielded to avoid glare/light pollution beyond property lines and to prevent disturbance to motorists;
(2) 
No illuminated sign located on a lot adjacent to or across the street from any residential district, zone or use shall be illuminated between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., unless the use to which the sign pertains is open for business during those hours;
(3) 
No flashing, rotating, intermittent or moving light sources are permitted; and
(4) 
Messages that display the time and temperature can be displayed for not less than four seconds.
D. 
Landscaping.
(1) 
The area surrounding any freestanding sign will be landscaped with plant materials to integrate the sign with the development on the parcel; and
(2) 
The area surrounding any freestanding sign will be free from weeds, rubbish, and flammable material.
E. 
Maintenance and removal of signs.
(1) 
Maintenance and repair. Every sign shall be maintained in a safe, presentable and good structural condition at all times by the replacement of defective parts, painting, repainting and other acts required for the maintenance of the sign.
(2) 
Abandoned signs. Any sign which is located on a property which becomes vacant for a period of three months or more shall be deemed to have been abandoned. Permanent signs applicable to a business temporarily suspended because of a change in ownership or management of the business shall not be deemed abandoned unless the property remains vacant for a period of one year. An abandoned sign is prohibited, and the sign, including all structural support to grade level, shall be removed by the owner of the premises upon which the sign is located.
(3) 
Dangerous or defective sign. No person shall maintain or permit to be maintained on any premises one owns any sign which is dangerous or in a defective condition. Any such sign shall be removed or repaired by the owner of the premises.
(4) 
Removal of signs.
(a) 
The Code Enforcement Officer shall cause to be removed any sign, including all structural support to grade level, that endangers the public safety, such as abandoned, dangerous or defective signs, signs for which no permit has been issued and is required or a sign posted on the public right-of-way or on public property. The Code Enforcement Officer shall prepare a notice which shall describe the sign and specify the violation(s) involved, and which will state, if the sign is not removed or the violation not corrected in a set period of time, the sign shall be removed by the Town of Union or the Village of Endicott or Johnson City. All notices shall be either personally served or mailed by certified mail.
[Amended 3-7-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012]
(b) 
For all other signs, the notice shall be mailed to the owner of the property on which the sign is located.
(c) 
Notwithstanding the above, in cases of emergency, the Code Enforcement Officer may cause the immediate removal of a dangerous sign without notice. For any sign removed by the Code Enforcement Officer, the cost of the sign removal by the Town or Villages shall be considered a debt owed to the Town or Village by the owner of the property and may be recovered by an assessment against the property.
A. 
Any sign erected prior to the adoption of this chapter which does not conform to the provisions of this article is permitted to remain as a nonconforming sign, provided that the sign:
(1) 
Was erected under an approved sign permit prior to the adoption of this chapter; and
(2) 
Advertises an existing business still in operation.
B. 
Loss of nonconforming status. A sign characterized as a nonconforming sign shall lose its nonconforming status if:
(1) 
The sign is altered in any way in structure or size (except for normal maintenance). See § 300-52.9 of this article; or
(2) 
The sign is relocated; or
(3) 
The sign is replaced.
The following operations shall not be considered as creating a sign insofar as requiring the issuance of a permit, but the signs shall be in conformance with all other ordinances and regulations of the Town and Villages:
A. 
Changing the advertising copy or message of an existing approved painted or printed sign, manually changeable copy sign or similar approved sign, whether illuminated or nonilluminated painted message which are all specifically designed for the use of manually replaceable copy.
B. 
Painting, repainting, cleaning or other normal maintenance and repair of a sign not involving structural changes. Replacement of the plastic face will be included as an exempt operation, provided that it is due to a change caused by breakage and/or deterioration of the face, but not for the substitution of a new or different advertiser.
All applicants for sign permits shall submit the following:
A. 
Name, address and telephone number of the applicant.
B. 
Location of building or lot to which or upon which the sign is to be attached or erected.
C. 
Name of the person, firm, corporation or association erecting the sign.
D. 
Two blueprints or ink drawings of the plans and specifications and methods of construction and attachment to the building or the ground.
E. 
For signs 150 square feet or more, one copy of stress sheets and calculations showing that the structure is designed for dead load and wind pressure.
F. 
If the sign is to be illuminated, the lumens.
G. 
Such other information as the Building Official shall require to show full compliance with this chapter and any other ordinance of the Town of Union, Village of Johnson City or Village of Endicott as applicable.
[Amended 3-7-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012]
If the work authorized under a sign permit has not been completed within 90 days of issuance, the permit shall become null and void, unless otherwise extended in writing by the Code Enforcement Officer, prior to the original expiration date, for a single ninety-day period.
The fee for a building permit for any sign requiring a permit is listed in the adopted Fee Schedule for the Town and Villages.
If the Code Enforcement Officer or other designated official shall find that any sign is unsafe or insecure or constitutes a menace to the public or has been constructed or erected or is being maintained in violation of this article or applicable ordinances, he or she shall have the owner of said sign cited in violation by written notice. From the date of such written notice or from such date as may be designated, said person in violation shall have 10 days to comply with the requirements of this article or any ordinance.