Town of Boston, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston 3-6-74 by L.L. No. 1-1974. Sections 95-5A(3) and 95-18 amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Other amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES

Zoning — See Ch. 123.

§ 95-1
Legislative intent. 

§ 95-2
Short title. 

§ 95-3
Definitions. 

§ 95-4
Exception. 

§ 95-5
Regulations pertaining to all signs in any zoning district. 

§ 95-6
Signs permitted in all districts. 

§ 95-7
Temporary and special purpose signs. 

§ 95-8
Regulations pertaining to signs in certain districts. 

§ 95-9
Regulations pertaining to setback of signs. 

§ 95-10
Permits and application procedure. 

§ 95-11
Fees. 

§ 95-12
Issuance of permit. 

§ 95-13
Revocation of permit. 

§ 95-14
Unsafe and unlawful signs. 

§ 95-15
Nonconforming signs. 

§ 95-16
Variances or exceptions by Zoning Board of Appeals. 

§ 95-17
Review and appeal. 

§ 95-18
Penalties for offenses. 

§ 95-19
Application of chapter. 

095a Pictorial Examples of Signs

The purpose of this chapter is to promote and protect the public health, welfare and safety by regulating existing and proposed outdoor advertising, outdoor advertising signs and outdoor signs of all types. It is intended to protect property values, create a more attractive economic and business climate, enhance and protect the physical appearance of the community, preserve the scenic and natural beauty of designated areas and provide a more enjoyable and pleasing community. It is further intended hereby to prevent 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 open space and curb the deterioration of natural beauty and community environment.

This chapter shall hereafter be known as the "Sign Law."

As used in this chapter, unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

AREA OF SIGN
That area as determined by circumscribing the exterior limits of the mass of each display erected on one sign structure. The structure supporting the sign is not included in determining the area of the sign unless the structure is designed in a way to form an integral background for the display. Only one face of a double-face sign is included in the area of such sign.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
That person appointed by the Town Board of the Town of Boston and charged with the duty of inspecting buildings or of enforcing zoning and other regulations relating to buildings and property or the governing body of the municipal corporation.
ERECT
To build, construct, alter the size or shape of, attach, hang, place, suspend or affix any sign.
FRONT OR FACE OF A BUILDING
The outer surface of a building abutting or fronting upon any private or public street or highway.
GROUND SIGN
A sign not attached to any building or structure and whose lowest portion shall not be more than three feet from grade to the bottom of the sign and supported by framework resting on the ground of whatever material constructed. "Ground signs" shall not exceed a maximum height of seven feet above ground level. Where "ground signs" are located inside a planter, the height shall be measured from the top of the planting enclosure but shall not exceed nine feet from ground level.
ILLUMINATED SIGN
Any sign illuminated by electricity, gas or other artificial light, including reflective or phosphorescent light.
LIGHTING DEVICE
Any light, string of lights or group of lights located or arranged so as to cast illumination on a sign.
PEDESTAL SIGN
A single- or double-pedestal sign not attached to any building or structure, with a clear area of at least 10 feet in height from the ground to the bottom of the sign except for the pedestals or pedestal, of which neither shall exceed nine inches in horizontal dimension. "Pedestal signs" shall not exceed a maximum of 18 feet from the ground, except that the sign height may be increased one foot for every additional five feet of the sign area, but not to exceed in any event a total height of 30 feet. No part of a "pedestal sign" shall project over public property.
PERSON
Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, institution or organization of any kind.
PROJECTING SIGN
Any sign which projects from the exterior of any building.
SHOPPING CENTER
Two or more stores or businesses now existing or hereafter erected and attached or immediately adjacent to each other and located in a structure or on premises operated as a single unit, with or without off-street parking.
SIGN
Any material, structure or device or part thereof composed of lettered or pictorial matter or upon which lettered or pictorial matter is placed when used or located out of doors or outside or on the exterior of any building, including window display area, for display of an advertisement, announcement, notice, directional matter or name, and includes sign frames, billboards, painted wall signs, hanging signs, pennants, fluttering devices, projecting signs or ground signs, and shall also include any announcement, declaration, demonstration, display, illustration or insignia used to advertise or promote the interests of any person or business when the same is placed in view of the general public. The term "sign" does not include the flag, pennant or insignia of any nation, group of nations, state or Town.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term "sign" does not include signs erected and maintained pursuant to and in discharge of any governmental function or required by any law, ordinance or governmental regulation.

Editor's Note: See Ch. 123, Zoning.
A. 

Regulations governing illumination of signs.

(1) 

Any illuminated sign or lighting device shall employ only lights emitting a light of constant intensity, and no sign shall be illuminated by or contain flashing, intermittent, rotating or moving light or lights. Beacon lights and strobe lights shall not be permitted except as herein provided in § 95-6B(1).

(2) 

An illuminated sign or lighting device shall not be placed so as to permit the beams and illumination therefrom to be directed or beamed upon a public street, highway, sidewalk or adjacent premises so as to cause glare or reflection that may constitute a traffic hazard or nuisance.

(3) 

Molded plastic or similar precast signs which are illuminated from within shall not exceed in light intensity the lumens cast by a series of high-output tubes with a ballast rating of 800 milliamperes and located within the sign a minimum of 12 inches apart, and illuminating devices may be the same length as the interior of the sign.

Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I.

(4) 

All signs containing electrical wiring shall be subject to the provisions of the National Electric Code and the New York Board of Fire Underwriters, and the electrical components used shall bear the label of an approved testing agency.

B. 

No signs shall be placed on the roof of any building.

C. 

No portable or temporary sign shall be placed on the front or face of a building or on any premises, except as provided in § 95-6 herein.

D. 

No sign or part thereof shall contain or consist of banners, posters, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners or other similar moving, fluttering or revolving devices except as herein provided in § 95-7B. The said devices, as well as strings of lights, shall not be used for the purposes of advertising or attracting attention when not part of a sign.

E. 

In the construction or composition of a sign as designated in this chapter, not more than 25% of the permitted surface area shall be used to promote a particular product or commodity which is not the primary function or principal product sold or distributed on the premises.

F. 

No signs shall be permitted in any district which advertise commodities or services other than those available for sale, hire or use on the premises, including billboards or other ground signs.

G. 

This chapter shall in no event be construed or employed in any manner to prohibit the decoration of the premises during religious, patriotic or holiday seasons.

A. 

The following signs are permitted in any use district without a permit:

(1) 

One sign advertising the sale, lease or rental of the premises upon which the sign is located, which sign shall not exceed four square feet in area.

(2) 

One professional nameplate for each occupant that shall not exceed two square feet in area.

(3) 

Signs denoting the name and address of the occupants of the premises, which signs shall not exceed two square feet in area.

(4) 

Signs on vehicles of any kind, provided that the sign is painted or attached directly to the body of the original vehicle.

(5) 

Integral signs denoting the names of buildings, dates of erection, monumental citations, commemorative tablets and the like when carved into stone, concrete, wood or similar material, or if made of bronze, aluminum or other permanent-type construction and made an integral part of the structure.

B. 

The following signs are permitted in any use district but require a permit as provided herein:

Editor's Note: See § 95-10.

(1) 

Signs or bulletin boards customarily incident to places of worship, schools, libraries, museums, social clubs or societies, which signs or bulletin boards shall not exceed 20 square feet in area of such institutions. Such signs may be double-faced and may be lighted only by a shielded light source and shall not be of a type prohibited by § 95-5A.

(2) 

Any sign advertising a real estate development or subdivision permitted in a district zoned R-1, R-2, R-3 or R-C by any zoning regulation shall not exceed 24 square feet in area, except that the sign area may be further increased at a rate of one square foot for each additional foot of setback from the front property line, but not to exceed in any event a total of 32 square feet in area, and such sign shall advertise only the name of the owner, the name of the development, telephone numbers and/or the activity conducted on the premises where each sign is located, provided that:

[Amended 12-31-1990 by L.L. No. 13-1990]

(a) 

No more than two signs shall be allowed for each such subdivision or real estate development conducted on the premises, which signs shall not be illuminated and in all respects conform to the provisions of this chapter respecting establishments in business districts.

A. 

Temporary or permanent signs resting on or attached to vehicles are prohibited except as provided in § 95-6A(4) and shall not be used to circumvent the provisions of this chapter.

B. 

The following temporary signs are permitted in any use district but require a permit as provided herein.

Editor's Note: See § 95-10.
All signs of a temporary nature, such as political posters, banners, promotional devices and other signs of a similar nature, may be granted a temporary permit for a period not to exceed 30 days, provided that such signs are not attached to fences, trees, utility poles or the like and further provided that such signs are not placed in a position that will obstruct or impair vision or traffic or in any manner create a hazard or disturbance to the health and welfare of the general public. A fee of $10 shall be paid upon the issuance of a permit for such sign or group of signs. Upon termination of the campaign for which said signs, posters, banners or promotional devices were erected, the same shall be immediately removed from said property.

C. 

The following temporary signs are permitted in any use district without a permit:

(1) 

Temporary announcement signs for special events and activities of nonprofit institutions or organizations shall be permitted, provided that such signs shall be removed within one week after such event or activity and further provided that they shall not be displayed for a total time period of more than four weeks.

(2) 

Construction signs displaying the names of the architect, engineer, principal contractor and other participants engaged in the work of constructing a building or structure, as well as a sign announcing the purpose of the building or structure for which a building permit has been issued and has not expired, are permitted on approval of the Enforcement Officer, subject to the following conditions:

(a) 

Single multilisting sign. A single sign not exceeding 32 square feet in area covering all of the participants named above may be erected and maintained for the period beginning with the excavation and ending with the completion of the construction of any building.

(b) 

Special purpose building announcement sign. A single sign announcing the purpose of a building or structure may be erected and maintained for a period not to exceed one year. Such sign shall:

[1] 

Not exceed 25 square feet in area.

[2] 

Not be more than seven feet in height.

[3] 

Be mounted on post supports.

(3) 

Agricultural signs for customary agriculture operations selling farm produce, a majority of which is grown on the premises, not to exceed an area of 15 square feet, shall be permitted, provided that such signs shall not include any illumination and shall be promptly removed by the property owner when the circumstances leading to their erection no longer apply.

[Amended 12-31-1990 by L.L. No. 13-1990]

In any R-C, C or M District, no signs shall be erected or maintained except as follows and no more than three signs shall be permitted on any single premises:

A. 

Wall identification signs. A wall identification sign shall be permitted, provided that such wall sign shall be attached to the face of the building or applied thereto and shall have an aggregate area not in excess of 10% of the area of the building wall to which such sign is affixed, including the area occupied by doors and windows.

B. 

Ground signs. A ground sign shall be permitted inside the property lines which does not exceed 24 square feet in area.

C. 

Pedestal signs. A single- or a double-pedestal sign shall be permitted where the building is set back from the street right-of-way a distance of 50 feet or more, provided that either sign does not exceed 30 square feet in area, except that the sign area may be further increased at a rate of one square foot for every three linear feet of business frontage in excess of 90 feet or one square foot for each additional foot of setback from the front property line, but not to exceed in any event a total area of 90 square feet Only one single- or one double-pedestral sign shall be permitted in each shopping center, subject to all other restrictions relating to single- or double-pedestal signs.

[Amended 3-7-1990 by L.L. No. 2-1990]

D. 

Projecting signs. A projecting sign shall not exceed 20 feet in area and shall not project above the roofline.

E. 

Gasoline service station signs. No signs shall be permitted on gasoline service station premises except as hereinafter provided:

(1) 

Pump area. Portable signs may be located in the pump area, not to exceed one foot on either side of the row of pumps or two feet from the last pump on each end of the pump row. No signs shall be permitted to extend more than four feet above the base of the pumps nor exceed 10 square feet in area. No more than two portable signs shall be allowed on the premises.

(2) 

One pedestal sign in a gasoline service station area, not to exceed 50 square feet in area regardless of setback or linear frontage of the premises.

(3) 

One wall identification sign, not to be more than 8% of the total area of the building face in square feet of the building in which such business establishment is located, except that an additional 2% shall be allowed where the building faces on an additional public street or public parking area. In such case, the total sign area shall not exceed 10% of the sum of the applicable building faces in square feet.

F. 

Entrance, exit and other control signs. Entrance and exit identification and other traffic control signs are to be approved by the Town Board as to location and size.

[Amended 12-31-1990 by L.L. No. 13-1990]
A. 

Signs in R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4 and R-A Districts shall have a minimum setback of five feet from the front property line and 15 feet from all other property lines.

B. 

Signs in R-C, C or M Districts shall have a minimum setback of five feet from the front property line. The setback from all other property lines shall be determined by the following regulations:

(1) 

For signs having an area of 20 square feet or less of one surface, the setback shall be at least five feet.

(2) 

Signs which exceed 20 square feet in area of one surface shall not be placed any closer than 20 feet to any property line other than the front property line.

(3) 

Where a business or residential restricted business abuts a residential area, no sign shall be located less than 15 feet from the side lot line of the property in the business or residential restricted business district abutting the residential district.

A. 

After the effective date of this chapter and except as otherwise herein provided, no person shall erect any sign as defined herein without first obtaining a permit from the Town Clerk.

B. 

Application for the permit shall be made in writing, in duplicate, upon forms prescribed and provided by the Town Clerk, to the Town Clerk and shall contain the following information:

(1) 

Name, address and telephone number of applicant.

(2) 

Location of building, structure or land to which or upon which the sign is to be erected.

(3) 

A detailed drawing or blueprint showing a description of the construction details of the sign and showing the lettering and/or pictorial matter composing the sign; position of lighting or other extraneous devices; a location plan showing the position of the sign on any building or land and its position in relation to nearby buildings or structures and to any private or public street or highway.

(4) 

Written consent of the owner of the building, structure or land to which or on which the sign is to be erected, in the event the applicant is not the owner thereof.

(5) 

A copy of any required or necessary electrical permit issued for said sign or a copy of the application therefor.

The fees for signs requiring a permit shall be assessed as follows:

A. 

Signs or bulletin boards customarily incident to places of worship, schools, libraries, museums, social clubs or societies: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

[Amended 10-4-2000 by L.L. No. 2-2000]

B. 

Signs advertising a commercial enterprise, including real estate developments or subdivisions which are permitted in R-1, R-2, R-3 or R-4 Districts: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

[Amended 12-31-1990 by L.L. No. 13-1990; 10-4-2000 by L.L. No. 2-2000]

C. 

Temporary political signs, banners, business promotional devices or other signs of similar nature: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

[Amended 10-4-2000 by L.L. No. 2-2000]

D. 

Temporary announcement signs for special events, temporary agricultural signs and activities of nonprofit institutions or organizations: no fee.

E. 

Signs in an R-C, C or M District.

[Amended 12-31-1990 by L.L. No. 13-1990; 10-4-2000 by L.L. No. 2-2000]

(1) 

Wall identification signs: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

(2) 

Ground signs: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

(3) 

Single- or double-pedestal signs: as set forth in the Schedule of Fees, as adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Boston.

F. 

Entrance, exit or traffic control signs: no fee.*

* NOTE: Approval of the Town Board shall be required.

It shall be the duty of the Town Clerk, upon the filing of an application for a permit to erect a sign, to examine such plans, specifications and other data submitted to him with the application and, if necessary, to contact the Enforcement Officer to inspect the building or premises upon which it is proposed to erect the sign or other advertising structure. If it shall appear that the proposed sign is in compliance with all requirements of this chapter and other laws and ordinances of the Town of Boston, the Town Clerk shall then, within 15 days, issue a permit for the erection of the proposed sign. If the sign authorized under any such permit has not been completed within 12 months from the date of the issuance of such permit, the permit shall become null and void, but such permit may be renewed within 30 days from the expiration thereof, for good cause shown, upon payment of an additional fee of $10. Where work for which a permit is required by this chapter is started or proceeded with prior to obtaining a permit therefor, the fee specified in § 95-11 will be doubled, but the payment of such double fee shall not relieve any person or persons from fully complying with the requirements of this chapter in the execution of the work nor from the penalties prescribed in this chapter. Every sign shall bear the permit number imprinted on a sticker issued by the Town Clerk, prominently and permanently affixed on the face thereof in the lower right-hand corner. Failure to so affix the permit number shall constitute cause for revocation of the permit by the Enforcement Officer in addition to any other penalties or remedies provided in this chapter.

A. 

No sign, whether new or existing, shall hereafter be erected or changed as to size or location except in conformity with the provisions of this chapter. However, notwithstanding any provisions contained herein, the sign must be kept clean, neatly painted and free from all hazards, such as but not limited to faulty wiring and loose fastenings, and must be maintained at all times in such safe condition as not to be detrimental to the public health or safety.

B. 

In the event of a violation of any of the foregoing provisions, the Enforcement Officer shall give written or personal notice, specifying the violation, to the owner of the sign and the owner of the land on which the sign is erected, sent to the addresses stated in the application for the sign permit, to conform or remove such sign. The sign thereupon shall be conformed by the owner of the sign and the owner of the land within 30 days from the date of said notice. In the event such sign shall not be so conformed within 30 days, the Enforcement Officer shall thereupon revoke the permit, and such sign shall be removed by the named owner of the sign and/or the named owner of the land.

If the Enforcement Officer shall find that any sign regulated by this chapter is unsafe or insecure or is a menace to the public, he shall give written notice to the named owner of the sign and the named owner of the land upon which the sign is erected, who shall remove or repair the said sign within five days from the date of said notice. If the said sign is not removed or repaired, the Enforcement Officer shall revoke the permit issued for such sign, as herein provided, and may remove or repair said sign and shall assess all costs and expenses incurred in said repair against the land or building on which such sign is located. The Enforcement Officer may cause any sign which is a source of immediate peril to persons or property to be removed summarily and without notice.

From and after the date this chapter becomes effective, each existing sign which was lawfully erected or in compliance with previous regulations and is not in conformity with the provisions of this chapter may be continued as follows:

A. 

A nonconforming sign or signs which advertises a business conducted or a product sold on the premises or a directional sign now existing within a radius of two miles of the business premises shall be permitted to continue for a period of eight years from the date of the enactment of this chapter, at which time said sign or signs shall be removed from the premises and said use discontinued.

B. 

A nonconforming sign or signs which advertises a business not conducted or a product not sold on the premises and which is not located within a radius of two miles of the business location shall be permitted to continue for a period of three years from the date of the enactment of this chapter, at which time said sign or signs shall be removed from the premises and said use discontinued.

C. 

Any sign or signs illegally erected or maintained prior to the enactment of this chapter shall have no nonconforming use rights and said sign or signs shall be immediately removed.

A. 

The Zoning Board of Appeals, subject to such conditions as it may deem necessary in the public interest and after public notice and hearing, may vary or modify the application of this chapter as follows:

(1) 

When circumstances peculiar to a particular property differentiate it substantially from adjoining properties, to permit variations in the strict application of this chapter, provided that any sign or signs so permitted shall not exceed in the aggregate the area requirements permitted herein.

(2) 

Approve the issue of a special permit or permits for the erection of not to exceed two additional signs, provided that:

(a) 

Each such sign shall be on a wall of the principal building facing upon a public or private off-street parking area.

(b) 

Each such sign shall be a replica of the sign facing on the principal street and shall be not more than 60% of the size of such principal sign.

(c) 

If two such additional signs are permitted under special permits issued either simultaneously or at different times, such additional replica signs shall be identical in size and working as in Subsection A(2)(b), above.

B. 

The foregoing variance powers shall not be deemed to limit the general variance powers of the Zoning Board of Appeals allowed or provided for in the Town Law of the State of New York and the Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Boston but shall be deemed in addition thereto.

Editor's Note: See Ch. 123, Zoning.

A. 

Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Enforcement Officer relative to the provisions of this chapter, or the Town of Boston, may appeal such decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals as provided in the zoning regulations of the Town of Boston and shall comply with all procedural requirements prescribed by such Zoning Board of Appeals.

Editor's Note: See Ch. 123, Zoning.

B. 

Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Board of Appeals may have the decision reviewed by a Special Term of the Supreme Court in the manner provided by Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1. General Provisions, Art. I.

Any person committing an offense against the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation punishable by a fine of not more than $250 or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The continuation of an offense against the provisions of this chapter shall constitute, for each day the offense is continued, a separate and distinct offense hereunder.

This chapter is applicable only to the Town of Boston and shall be construed as an exercise of powers of such municipality to regulate, control and restrict the use of buildings, displays, signs and other general advertising media in order to promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community, including the protection and preservation of the property of the municipality and its inhabitants and of peace and good order, for the benefit of trade and all matters related thereto.