[HISTORY: Adopted by the City of Norwalk Common Council as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Amusements — See Ch. 14.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 101.
Vehicle and traffic — See Ch. 111.
Zoning — See Ch. 118.
[Adopted 5-14-1957, effective 5-25-1957]
It is declared that the maintenance of signs which project over any sidewalk presents hazards which are detrimental to the public interest and to the public safety; that such signs are a source of danger to users of streets and sidewalks and to adjacent property, particularly during windstorms; that they have a tendency to interfere with the protection of life and property in the event of fire and constitute a potential hazard to members of the Fire Department and other public officers engaged in fighting fires; that they are unsightly and tend to have a depreciating effect on adjacent property; that their value for advertising purposes tends to be diminished due to the obscuring effect of like signs on other properties which results in the construction of increasingly larger signs designed to counteract the obscuring effect of adjacent signs; and that the necessity in the public interest of the provisions hereinafter contained in this article is proclaimed hereby as a matter of legislative determination.
The purpose of this article is for the orderly regulation of all signs displayed outdoors, for any purpose whatsoever, under the supervision of the Building Inspector of the City. It is also its purpose to regulate in an orderly and equitable manner the display of advertising in the City and that the City, as far as it is within its power, discourage and prohibit the indiscriminate placing, pasting, tacking or in any way otherwise attaching advertising matter without any thought to the general public appearance.
No sign of any nature shall be erected or fastened in any way to any building or other structure without first obtaining a permit from the Building Inspector, except that real estate signs may be displayed on properties, provided that they do not exceed an area of 24 square feet. The Chief of Economic and Community Development, the Chief Building Official, or their designee shall enforce § 21-2.
In case of the failure or neglect of the person to correct the actions identified in Subsection A following a fine pursuant to § 90-4, Approval of rates and fees, the Chief of Economic and Community Development, the Chief Building Official, or their respective designee may cause the same to be done, and the expenses thereof shall be collectible from the responsible person.
All sign permits shall be issued for the designated location applied for in the application for a permit, and such application shall be accompanied by plans at the discretion of the Building Inspector.
The fee for a permit under this article shall be $2 per location, except for a temporary sign constructed of muslin or oilcloth under a square footage of 100 and under a value of $25, and except for a permanent sign made of any other material under a value of $15, such value to be determined by the Building Inspector, in which case no permit shall be required, provided that the same is erected by a licensed and bonded person as required in §§ 21-15 and 21-16 of this code.
Billboards, poster panels and painted bulletins are permitted when not exceeding 16 feet in height above the curb level, except, where the ground is higher than the curb, such distance of 16 feet shall be measured from the ground level with a clear space of not less than three feet between the bottom of the structure and the ground; provided, however, that lattice trim may be installed in the space between the bottom of the sign surface and the ground. Such structures shall be securely anchored and braced and located within the building lines of the lot being used.
When erected on the roof of a building, structures, termed sky signs, must be securely anchored under the roof by using through-bolts of not less than a one-half-inch dimension to a sleeper plate crossing at least three rafters. Such structures shall have a clearance between the bottom of the display space and the surface of the roof of not less than six feet, except that three feet of the space may be filled with lattice. All structural parts shall be of incombustible materials, except that nailing strips, capping and molding may be of wood.
No permit shall be issued for a sign and no sign shall hereafter be erected so as to extend or project over any part of any sidewalk, except as provided in this article with respect to wall signs and marquee signs. The term "sidewalk," for the purpose of this section, is defined to mean that area with any public street which is designed for the pedestrian travel of the public, and shall also include any area along, parallel and contiguous to any street between the building line and the street line of any street which is paved as a sidewalk for the pedestrian travel of the public.
Any sign fastened flat against the wall of a building, or in front of or on top of the cornice over the first story, shall be termed a wall sign. Wall signs must be securely fastened to the building and must not extend beyond the building more than 12 inches; provided, however, that when a wall sign is to be illuminated by shades or reflectors placed on gooseneck arms, such gooseneck arms and reflectors may extend beyond the sign surface a distance of not greater than six feet from the building proper.
Any sign attached to the sides and front of any previously erected steel framing or canopy shall be termed a marquee and must be previously approved by the Building Inspector.
Any letter, word, model, sign, device or representation in the nature of an advertisement, announcement, direction, symbol or trademark, supported or attached wholly or in part over or above any wall, building or structure, shall be deemed a sky sign. Sky signs shall be constructed entirely of metal, including supports and braces, except that nailing strips, capping and molding may be of wood. All signs coming under this provision must be designed and constructed to withstand a wind pressure of at least 30 pounds per square foot.
Any sign electrically illuminated by incandescent lamps, luminous gas tubes or other lighting effect, where the wiring is internal, must be constructed of incombustible materials, the body and faces of which must be sheet metal not less than 24 gauge and the reinforced iron not less than one- by one-eighth-inch angle iron. All such signs must bear the inspection label of the Underwriters' Laboratories. This provision shall not apply to any sign illuminated by shades attached to gooseneck arms, or bungalow aprons where the wiring is external to the sign proper.
No signs of any nature whatsoever shall be constructed or erected in any manner whatsoever to obstruct any door, window, fire escape or exit to or on any building.
It is within the province of the Building Inspector to inspect or authorize the inspection of any sign of whatever nature at any time he may deem it necessary. He shall have the power to order made any maintenance repairs which in his estimation are required for common safety. It shall be incumbent upon any person owning a sign upon which maintenance repairs have been ordered by the Building Inspector to comply with such order within 10 days after receipt of notice. If such order is not complied with within 10 days, it is within the province of the Building Inspector, if, in his opinion, the sign is a menace to public safety, to order the same removed at the expense of the owner.
Any sign of whatever nature, which in the opinion of the Building Inspector is unsafe, and the owner of which cannot be located, can be ordered removed by the Building Inspector by serving notice on the owner of the property upon which such unsafe sign appears. Such order shall make it compulsory upon the owner of the property to remove the sign within 10 days after receipt of such notice, and failure to do so shall empower the Building Inspector with authority to have the sign removed at the property owner's expense.
No person shall engage in the business of sign manufacturing for advertising purposes by erecting or maintaining ground signs, roof signs, wall signs, projecting signs or marquee signs, either for himself or others, within the corporate limits of the City without first having procured a license from the Building Inspector to conduct such business.
The Building Inspector shall have the right, in acting upon the application for such license, to examine the applicant or his representative, at such time and place as the Building Inspector shall designate, as to the applicant's qualification, competency and responsibility to engage in such business. The examination shall be practical and elementary in character, but sufficient enough to satisfy the Building Inspector that the applicant is qualified to conduct a sign business in accordance with the provisions of this article.
The initial fee for the issuing of this license shall be $25 and the license shall expire on the last day of the calendar year following the date of issuance. The fee for the yearly renewal of such license shall be $10.
No license issued to any person shall be transferable.
The Building Inspector may revoke any license granted hereunder for violation of any provision of this article.
No person shall engage in the business of sign manufacturing or displaying for advertising purposes, either for himself or others, until such person shall have filed with the Building Inspector a bond in the sum of $1,000 with approved sureties for the faithful observance of this article in the conduct of his business.
Nothing in this article shall be construed as waiving or modifying any of the regulations provided in the Zoning Ordinance of the City.
Except as provided below, no sign of any kind shall be erected, placed, maintained or displayed within the outside limits of any street or highway in the City of Norwalk.
[Amended 6-28-1983; 5-22-2018]
The Traffic Authority, subject to the conditions set out below, shall issue permits for signs intended to inform the public of the existence or location of the following:
Public or nonprofit museums and places of historical or cultural interest which are open to the public.
Public or nonprofit schools and colleges.
Governmental buildings or departments.
Public parks, beaches or recreation areas.
Public or nonprofit hospitals, clinics or treatment centers.
Enterprise Zone boundaries.
Neighborhood crime watch areas.
No more than seven signs for each farm, as defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 1-1(q), within the City of Norwalk. These farm signs may only be erected and/or displayed between June 1 and October 31 of each calendar year.
No permit for a sign shall be issued until an application therefor on forms provided by the Traffic Authority shall have been submitted to the Authority and a fee of $5 paid; no fee shall be required if the applicant is any agency or department of the City of Norwalk.
The location of any permitted sign shall be determined by the Traffic Authority with due regard to its effect upon visibility along streets and highways, the presence of traffic signs, warnings, lights or other traffic control devices, the presence of other permitted signs for which a permit has already been issued and the safety of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Except as otherwise determined by the Traffic Authority, each sign shall meet the following minimum requirements:
Shape: rectangular and one of the following dimensions: 12 inches by 24 inches, 18 inches by 24 inches.
Color: blue background with white legend and border.
Clearance: a minimum clearance height of seven feet to the bottom of the sign where there are sidewalks or footpaths; a minimum clearance of five feet from the bottom of the sign where there is vehicular traffic only.
Setback. The outer edge of each sign shall not be less than one foot from the curb or outer edge of the footpath. Where there are no sidewalks or footpaths, the outer edge of the sign shall be not less than two feet from the edge of the paved or traveled portion of the street or highway.
Legend. Signs shall not bear language or design which resembles those used in traffic control devices.
Structure. Signs and channel post mounts shall meet the design standards equal to those used by the City of Norwalk Traffic Engineering Department.
Each permittee shall maintain signs erected by him and keep them in neat order and in good repair. If the permittee fails to keep his signs neat and in repair, including maintenance in the proper position, after 10 days of notice from the Traffic Authority to correct such condition, the permit for such sign may be revoked by the Authority and the permittee ordered to remove the sign. If the permittee fails to remove the sign within 10 days of such order for removal, the Traffic Authority may cause the sign to be removed and may collect from the permittee the cost of such removal.
Applicants may apply for more than one sign permit, but the number of permits issued to any one applicant shall be limited by the Traffic Authority to the number reasonably required to adequately inform the public of the presence and location of the applicant's premises. This limitation of the number of signs shall not apply to the City of Norwalk or any agency or department of said City.
Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to prohibit signs required or permitted by the United States of America, the State of Connecticut or any subdivision thereof, nor shall it apply to highways within the City of Norwalk which are a part of the state highway system.
Any sign presently erected or maintained by any person, institution or corporation falling within the permitted definitions as set out in § 98-2 above shall be deemed nonconforming, but shall be removed, altered or replaced so as to conform to the provisions of this ordinance within two years from and after the date of this ordinance.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof shall be fined not exceeding $100. Each day such violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such hereunder.
As an additional remedy, the maintenance of any sign in violation of any provision hereof may be subject to abatement summarily by injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.