Village of Morrisville, NY
Madison County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Morrisville 6-1-1993 by L.L. No. 3-1993. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 180.
The purpose of this chapter is to promote and protect the public health, welfare and safety by regulating existing and proposed advertising signs of all types. It is intended to protect values, create a more attractive economic and business climate, enhance and protect the physical appearance of the community, preserve the scenic and natural beauty and 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, reduce hazards that may be caused by signs overhanging or projecting over public rights-of-way, provide more visual open space and curb the deterioration of the community's appearance and attractiveness.
[Amended 9-7-1995 by L.L. No. 2-1995; 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
SIGN
Any material, structure or device or part thereof composed of lettered or pictorial matter, which is located out-of-doors or on the exterior of any building or indoors as a window sign, displaying an advertisement, announcement, notice or name, and shall include any declaration, demonstration, display, representation, illustration or insignia used to advertise or promote the interests of any person or business or cause when such is placed in view of the general public.
A. 
Any visual message incorporated into an awning attached to a building.
B. 
A sign on which the visual message may be periodically changed.
C. 
A sign limited to providing information on the location of an activity, business or event.
D. 
Any sign not attached to or part of any building but separate and permanently affixed by any other means, in or upon the ground; included are pole signs, pylon signs and masonry wall-type signs.
E. 
Any sign illuminated by electricity, gas or other artificial light, either from the interior or exterior of the sign, and which includes reflective and phosphorescent light.
F. 
A sign unrelated to a business or a profession conducted or to a commodity or service sold or offered upon the premises where the sign is located.
G. 
Any sign which is painted on, etched into or otherwise structurally attached to the ground, a building, a structure or another permanent sign.
H. 
A sign, whether on its own trailer, wheels or otherwise, designed to be movable and not structurally attached to the ground, a building, a structure or another sign.
I. 
A sign which is attached to the building wall or structure and which extends horizontally more than 15 inches from the plane of such wall or a sign which is perpendicular to the face of such wall or structure.
J. 
A three-dimensional sign built so as to physically represent the object advertised.
K. 
Any sign fabricated of paper, plywood, fabric, window whitewash or other light, impermanent material, which relates to a single activity or event having a duration of no more than 30 days.
L. 
A sign which is painted on or attached to the outside wall of a building, with the face of the sign in the plane parallel to such wall, and not extending more than 15 inches from the face of such wall.
M. 
A sign visible from a sidewalk, street or other public place, painted or affixed on glass or other window material or located inside within two feet of the window.
SIGN DIRECTORY
A listing of two or more business enterprises, consisting of a matrix and sign components.
SIGN STRUCTURE
The supports, uprights, bracing and framework for the sign. In the case of a sign structure consisting of two or more sides, where the angle formed between any two of the sides or the projections thereof exceeds 30º, each side shall be considered a separate sign structure.
SIGN SURFACE AREA
The entire area within a single, continuous perimeter enclosing all elements which form an integral part of the sign. The structure supporting a sign shall be excluded unless the structure is designed in a way to form an integral background for the display. Both faces of a double-faced sign shall be included as surface or area of such a sign.
A. 
North Street, South Street, Eaton Street and Cedar Street.
B. 
Main Street (United States Route 20).
[Amended 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
A. 
Except as otherwise provided, no person shall erect, alter or relocate any permanent sign without first obtaining a permit from the Code Enforcement Officer. Within 90 days following the effective date of this chapter, a permit shall also be obtained for any permanent sign in existence as of the effective date of this chapter, unless excluded by the exempt signs provision under § 151-4A. Subsequent to this initial application, no permit shall be required for a sign to be repainted, repaired or have its message changed.
B. 
Application procedure.
(1) 
Applications shall be made in writing to the Code Enforcement Officer, on forms prescribed and provided by the Village of Morrisville, and shall contain the following information:
(a) 
The name, address and telephone number of:
[1] 
The applicant.
[2] 
The owner of the property.
(b) 
The location of the building, structure or land upon which the sign now exists or is to be erected.
(c) 
If a new sign is to be erected, elevation and plan drawings to scale shall be included. In addition, a full description of the placement and appearance of the proposed sign shall be included and shall cover the following:
[1] 
Location on the premises; specifically, its location in relation to adjacent buildings, structures and property lines.
[2] 
The method of illumination, if any, and the position of lighting or other extraneous devices and a copy of the electrical permit and/or the lighting manufacturer's requirements related to the electrical connections.
[3] 
Graphic design, including symbols, letters, materials and colors.
[4] 
The visual message, text, copy or content of the sign.
(d) 
Written consent or a copy of the contract made with the owner of the property upon which the sign is to be erected, if the applicant is not the owner.
(e) 
A letter-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope.
(2) 
Incomplete applications shall not be reviewed and must be resubmitted. The applicant shall be notified in writing, via regular United States mail, if the application is incomplete. The incomplete application shall also be returned to the applicant at that time.
C. 
Permit. Upon the filing of a completed application for a sign permit and the payment of the required fee, the Code Enforcement Officer shall examine the plans, specifications and other data submitted and the premises on which the sign is to be erected or now exists. If it shall appear that the sign is in compliance with all the requirements of this chapter, he/she shall then, within seven days, forward the application to the Planning Board for review at its next scheduled meeting. The Planning Board shall examine the application, determine whether the requirements of § 151-6 of this chapter have been met and then either approve the application, deny the application or approve the application upon the imposition of appropriate conditions. Upon approval of the application, and/or the applicant's compliance with any conditions imposed upon such approval, the Planning Board shall issue the sign permit. The issuance of a permit shall not excuse the applicant from conforming to the other laws and ordinances of the Village of Morrisville. If the erection of the sign authorized under any such permit has not been completed within six months from the date of issuance, the permit shall become null and void but may be renewed within 30 days prior to the expiration, for good cause shown, for an additional six months upon payment of 1/2 of the original fee.
D. 
Permit period. The sign permit shall remain effective for the life of the sign, provided that all provisions of this chapter are complied with.
E. 
Permit fee. A one-time fee as set forth from time to time by the Board of Trustees shall be imposed for each permanent sign, except that there shall be no fee to obtain a permit for a permanent sign existing as of the effective date of this chapter if such application is made within 90 days of such effective date.
A. 
Exempt signs (require no permits). The following types of signs may be erected and maintained without a permit or fee, provided that such signs comply with the general requirements of this chapter and other conditions specifically imposed by the regulations:
[Amended 9-8-1994; 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
(1) 
Historical markers, tablets and statutes, 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.
(2) 
Flags and insignia of any government, except when displayed in connection with commercial promotion.
(3) 
On-premises directional signs for the convenience of the general public, identifying parking areas, fire zones, entrances and exits and similar signs, not exceeding four square feet per face and mounted not more than six feet above grade. Business names and personal names shall be allowed, excluding advertising messages.
(4) 
Nonilluminated warning, "private drive," "posted' or "no trespassing" signs, not exceeding two square feet per face.
(5) 
One on-premises sign, either freestanding or attached, in connection with any residential building in any zoning district, for permitted professional offices or home occupations, not exceeding two square feet and set back at least 10 feet from the highway right-of-way. Such sign shall state name and vocation only. Illumination shall not produce a direct glare beyond the limits of the property line.
(6) 
Number and nameplates identifying residents, mounted on a house, apartment or mailbox, not exceeding one square foot in area.
(7) 
Lawn signs identifying residents, not exceeding one square foot or two square feet if double-faced. 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.
(8) 
Private-owner merchandise sale signs for garage sales and auctions, not exceeding four square feet for a period not exceeding seven successive days for each such event.
(9) 
Nonilluminated "For Sale," "For Rent" and real estate signs and signs of similar nature, concerning the premises upon which the sign is located. In a residential zoning district, one sign not exceeding four square feet per side shall be permitted. In a business or industrial zone district, one sign not exceeding 32 square feet set back at least 15 feet from all property lines or one sign not exceeding 20 square feet, where the building is closer than 15 feet from all property lines, shall be permitted. All such signs shall be removed within three days after the sale, lease or rental of the premises.
(10) 
Christmas holiday decorations, including lighting, are exempt from the provisions of this chapter and may be displayed in any district without a permit for the period from three days before Thanksgiving until the first week in the following year.
(11) 
At gasoline stations, integral graphics or attached signs on gasoline pumps.
(12) 
Directional signs for meetings, conventions and other assemblies. All signs shall be removed within three days after the meeting or event.
(13) 
One sign, not exceeding six square feet in residential districts nor 16 square feet in the business districts, listing the architect, engineer, contractor and/or owner, on premises where construction, renovation or repair is in progress.
(14) 
Political posters, banners, promotional devices and similar signs, not exceeding four square feet in the residential districts nor 16 square feet in the business districts, provided that:
(a) 
Placement shall not exceed 30 days, and a period of 11 months shall elapse between the last day of one period of showing and the first day of the next.
(b) 
The names and addresses of the sponsor and the person responsible for removal are identified.
(15) 
Other signs.
(a) 
Window signs:
[1] 
There shall be no more than one sign per window and a maximum of two per business enterprise.
[2] 
The area of a window sign shall not exceed 25% of the area of the window nor be more than four square feet.
[3] 
Copy-change window signs shall not exceed three square feet.
(b) 
Sign directories. Sign directories shall contain identification of and direction to several business enterprises but shall contain no promotional advertising.
(c) 
Awning signs.
[1] 
No sign shall project from an awning.
[2] 
Awning graphics may be painted or affixed flat to the surface of the front or sides and shall indicate only the name and/or address of the enterprise or premises.
[3] 
Awning graphics shall be a single line of lettering not exceeding six inches in height, but if over three inches in height, they shall be debited against the permitted wall sign surface area.
(16) 
Any sign advertising a private vehicle for sale shall be limited to one sign per vehicle and shall not exceed four square feet.
B. 
Prohibitions.
(1) 
No off-premises signs shall be allowed other than as permitted under the exempt signs provision of § 131-4A.
(2) 
No sign shall be illuminated by or contain flashing, intermittent, rotating or moving lights except to show time and temperature.
(3) 
No sign shall be permitted between the sidewalk line and the street or highway line or within the street or highway right-of-way.
(4) 
No sign shall impair visibility for the motorist at a street corner or intersection.
(5) 
No sign or sign supports shall be placed upon the roof of any building.
(6) 
No permanent sign shall consist of banners, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners or similar moving, fluttering or revolving devices.
[Amended 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
(7) 
No advertising message shall be extended over more than one sign placed along a street or highway.
(8) 
No sign, sign support or portion thereof shall encroach on the perpendicular space above any public sidewalk.
C. 
Sign permit required.
(1) 
[1]Permanent signs.
(a) 
Within any zoning district, the following permanent signs may be erected; provided, however, that such a subsection shall not serve to expand the number of signs otherwise allowed pursuant to the next subsection on business and industrial district:
[1] 
Off-premises directional signs for the convenience of the general public and for the purpose of directing persons to a business, activity, service or community facility may be erected, provided that such signs do not exceed 10 square feet per establishment nor total more than two such signs per establishment. The message shall be limited to name or identification, arrow or direction and distance. Advertising messages shall be prohibited. Such signs shall be limited to major and collector streets.
[2] 
A nonilluminated, single-sided real estate development sign, including industrial and commercial development, residential subdivision or construction sign denoting the architect, engineer and/or contractor, may be erected on the property being sold, leased or developed. Such signs shall be erected parallel to the fronting highway. In a business or industrial zoning district, one sign not exceeding 32 square feet, set back at least 15 feet from all property lines, or (1) one sign not exceeding 20 square feet, where a minimum distance of 15 feet from all property lines cannot be obtained, shall be permitted. In a residential zoning district, one sign not exceeding 16 square feet shall be permitted. Such signs shall be removed upon completion of the project and shall be in place for a period not exceeding two years.
[3] 
Signs or bulletin boards customarily incident to places of worship, libraries, museums, social clubs or societies may be erected on the premises of such institutions. One such sign or bulletin board not exceeding 20 square feet may be erected for each entrance on a different street or highway.
[4] 
For multiple dwellings or apartment developments, one sign advertising availability of several dwelling units, not exceeding 20 square feet, shall be permitted. One such sign shall be permitted for each entrance on a different street or highway.
[5] 
Outdoor recreational areas, day camps, golf clubs, ski areas and other similar facilities permitted by the Chapter 180, Zoning, shall, in all zones, be permitted one sign not exceeding 32 square feet.
[6] 
Signs necessary for the identification, operation or production of a public utility, not exceeding 20 square feet, may be erected on the premises of such public utility.
(b) 
Within business and industrial districts, the following permanent sign provisions shall apply:
[1] 
The total number of permitted signs on a single business or industrial lot shall not exceed two, of which one may be freestanding.
[2] 
The total cumulative area of all signs permitted on such lot shall be calculated at the rate of one square foot of sign area per linear foot of building front, plus 1/4 square foot per linear foot of setback of the principal building on the property, but in no case shall it exceed 150 square feet, whichever is less.
[3] 
A minimum total area of 20 square feet shall be permitted on premises for any use, regardless of building frontage.
[4] 
Where groups of three or more businesses are located together in a shopping center or where a lesser number of businesses total not less than 20,000 square feet of gross leasable area, one common freestanding sign denoting the name of the shopping facility shall be permitted, not exceeding 150 square feet (75 square feet per side) and with the bottom panel not less than eight feet above grade. All other signs shall be attached to buildings, of a wall, projecting or soffit type and coordinated in material, shape, lettering, color and/or decorative elements. Total sign area permitted for the entire shopping center shall be calculated at the rate of one square foot of sign per linear foot of building front, plus one-fourth ( 1/4) square foot per linear foot of lot frontage, plus one-tenth ( 1/10) square foot per linear foot of each business's setback, not to exceed 450 square feet, whichever is less.
[5] 
Representational signs shall not project in any direction more than four feet beyond the principal structure to which they are attached and shall not exceed 15 square feet. Only one such sign per establishment shall be permitted, with the area of such sign structure included within the total sign area permitted.
[6] 
Illuminated signs which indicate the time, temperature, date or other similar public service information shall not exceed 20 square feet and shall not employ less than 60% of the total sign area, each side, for said public service information.
[7] 
Gasoline service stations shall additionally be permitted one price, product or promotional sign not exceeding 12 square feet or six square feet per side, if located on the pump island, or set not closer than 10 feet from the edge of pavement, not exceeding eight feet above grade nor situated so as to impair visibility for pedestrians or motorists.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection C(1), regarding temporary signs, was repealed 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997. This local law also renumbered Subsection C(2) and C(3) as C(1) and C(2), respectively.
(2) 
Portable signs. A new business or a business in a new location, awaiting installation of a permanent sign, may utilize a portable sign for a period of not more than 60 days or until installation of a permanent sign, whichever comes first. Such a portable sign must meet all the construction standards of the municipality. A separate permit for such a portable sign shall be required.
D. 
Nonconforming signs. In the event that a sign lawfully erected prior to the effective date of this chapter does not conform to the provisions and standards of this chapter, then such signs shall be modified to conform or be removed according to the following regulations:
(1) 
Each nonconforming portable sign shall be modified to conform or be removed within 30 days following the effective date of this chapter.
(2) 
The owner may apply for a permit to maintain a nonconforming permanent sign for a fixed period based on the remaining undepreciated useful life of such sign, as determined by an appropriate depreciation formula (e.g., value standards in use by the New York State Department of Transportation). The application for such permit shall be filed with the Code Enforcement Officer within 90 days of the effective date of this chapter and shall include satisfactory proof of the date of erection of said sign. A permit to continue a nonconforming sign shall in no case exceed three years.
(3) 
A nonconforming sign shall not be enlarged or replaced by another nonconforming sign. Any maintenance, repair or alteration of a nonconforming sign shall not cost more than 50% of the current depreciated value of the sign as of the date of alteration or repair.
E. 
Removal of signs. Any sign, existing on or after the effective date of this chapter, which no longer advertises an existing business conducted or product sold on the premises upon which such sign is located shall be removed.
(1) 
If the Code Enforcement Officer shall find that any sign regulated in this chapter is not used, is coded in advertising, is abandoned, unsafe or insecure or is a menace to the public, the Code Enforcement Officer shall give written notice to the named owner of the land upon which it is located, who shall remove or repair the sign within 30 days from the date of the notice. If the sign is not removed or repaired within said time period, the Code Enforcement Officer shall revoke the permit issued for such sign and may remove or repair the sign and assess the owner for all costs incurred for such services.
(2) 
The Code Enforcement Officer may cause any sign which is a source of immediate peril to persons or property to be removed immediately and without notice.
A. 
General.
(1) 
All internally illuminated signs shall be constructed in conformance with the Standards for Electric Signs (U.L. 48) of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and bear the seal of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
(2) 
If such sign does not bear the Underwriters Laboratories label, the sign shall be inspected and certified by the New York Board of Fire Underwriters. All transformers, wires and similar items shall be concealed. All wiring to freestanding signs shall be underground.
(3) 
All freestanding signs shall be designed and constructed to withstand a wind pressure of not less than 30 pounds per square foot of surface area.
(4) 
All signs, including wall-mounted and projecting signs, shall be securely anchored and shall not swing or move in any manner.
(5) 
All signs, sign finishes, supports and electrical work shall be kept clean, neatly painted and free from all hazards, such as but not limited to faulty wiring and loose supports, braces, guys and anchors.
(6) 
All projecting, freestanding or wall signs shall employ acceptably durable material.
B. 
Specific regulations by sign types. Below are descriptions of signs varying in construction and type which must comply with the following additional conditions, unless otherwise specified elsewhere in this chapter:
(1) 
Wall signs.
(a) 
Wall signs shall not extend beyond the ends or over the top of the walls to which attached and shall not extend above the level of the second floor of the building.
(b) 
Wall signs shall not extend more than nine inches from the face of the buildings to which attached, except that copy-change signs may extend 15 inches.
(c) 
Copy-change wall signs shall be permitted on theaters only.
(2) 
Projecting signs.
(a) 
Projecting signs shall not have more than two faces.
(b) 
The exterior edge of a projecting sign shall extend not more than five feet from the building face or 1/3 the width of the sidewalk, whichever is less.
(c) 
No part of a projecting sign shall extend into vehicular traffic areas.
(d) 
Projecting signs shall not extend above the level of the second floor of the buildings to which attached or in any case be higher than 12 feet.
(e) 
No projecting sign shall be closer than 15 feet from the corner of a building located at a street intersection.
(3) 
Freestanding signs.
(a) 
No freestanding sign shall be located less than 15 feet from the front property line nor less than five feet from the side property line. No freestanding sign may be located less than 50 feet from any other freestanding sign.
(b) 
If for any reason the property line is changed at some future date, any freestanding sign made nonconforming thereby must be relocated within 90 days to conform with the minimum setback requirements.
(c) 
No freestanding sign shall be more than 75 square feet per side for a double-faced sign.
(d) 
No freestanding sign shall be more than 25 feet in height above finished grade. Such height shall be measured vertically from the established average grade directly below the sign or entry level of the building or structure, whichever is lower, to the highest point of the sign, including support structures.
(e) 
No freestanding sign shall extend over or into the public right-of-way, nor shall it overhang the property lines.
(f) 
Masonry, wall-type signs shall not exceed four feet in height and shall not be placed so as to impair visibility for motorists.
(4) 
Temporary signs. Temporary signs shall not exceed 16 square feet in business or industrial districts nor eight square feet in residential districts, nor be attached to fences, trees, utility poles, rocks or other parts of a natural landscape, nor be placed in a position that will obstruct or impair traffic or in any manner create a hazard or disturbance to the health, safety and/or welfare of the general public.
[Added 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
A. 
Signs should be designed to be compatible with the surroundings and appropriate to the architectural character of the buildings on which they are placed. Sign panels and graphics should relate with and not cover architectural features and should be in proportion to them.
B. 
Signs should be appropriate to the types of activities they represent.
C. 
Layout should be orderly and graphics should be of simple shape, such as rectangle, circle or oval.
D. 
No more than two typefaces should be used on any one sign or group of signs indicating one message.
E. 
The number of colors used should be the minimum consistent with the design.
F. 
Illumination should be appropriate to the character of the sign and surroundings.
G. 
Groups of related signs should express uniformity and create a sense of harmonious appearance.
A. 
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Planning Board relative to the provisions of this chapter may seek review of such decision in New York State Supreme Court pursuant to the provisions of Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.
[Amended 6-12-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997]
B. 
In granting any variance from the provisions of this chapter, the Board of Appeals must find that the variance is necessary for the reasonable use of the land or buildings, that granting the variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of this chapter, that such will not be injurious to the neighborhood character or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare and that denial of the variance would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship to the applicant.
A. 
Any person, firm or corporation, whether as owner, lessee, agent or employee, who proceeds to erect, reerect, construct or structurally alter any sign without first applying for and obtaining the necessary permit or who in any other way violates any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of an offense and receive a fine of not exceeding $250 or imprisonment not exceeding 15 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each week's continuous violation shall constitute a separate additional violation.
[Amended 9-7-1995 by L.L. No. 2-1995]
B. 
In case of a violation of this chapter, the municipality and its officers may, in addition to any other remedies specifically conferred by law or ordinance, institute any appropriate proceedings to prevent unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration or use of any sign not in compliance with this chapter.
In their interpretation and application, the provisions of this chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements, adopted for the promotion of the public health, morals, safety or the general welfare. It is not intended to interfere with, abrogate or annul other rules, regulations or ordinances, provided that whenever the requirements of this chapter are at variance with the requirements of any other lawfully adopted regulations, rules or ordinances, the most restrictive or those which impose the highest standards shall govern.