City of Trenton, NJ
Mercer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
It is the purpose and intent of these sign regulations to permit such signs that will not, by their aggregate number, size, location, construction or manner of display, confuse or obstruct the vision necessary for traffic safety or otherwise endanger public health, safety and welfare and to regulate signs in such a way as to protect property values, improve the physical appearance of commercial areas and preserve and enhance the aesthetics of the community.
For the purposes of this article, the defined terms, phrases, words, abbreviations and their derivations shall have the meaning given in this section.
BILLBOARD
A sign that directs attention to a business, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or offered at a location other than the premises on which the sign is located.
FACADE SIGN
A sign located on or attached to the facade of the principal structure on each street frontage.
FREESTANDING SIGN
Any sign designed to be seen from outside a building that advertises activities, goods, products, services or facilities available on site that is not attached to a building and is supported by its own structure.
NAMEPLATE/IDENTIFICATION SIGN
A sign located on the front facade of a residential property indicating the name and/or address of the occupant of that property.
NONCOMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENT AND INFORMATION SIGN
An advertisement or informational sign of a public or semipublic nature, which may only be used to display the following:
A. 
The name or location of a hospital, nursing home, day-care center, clubhouse, funeral parlor, community center, public or private school, YMCA, YWCA, church, synagogue or other place of worship. Not more than one sign shall be placed on each property, unless such property fronts on more than one street, in which case one such sign may be erected on each street frontage.
B. 
The name or place of meeting of an official or civic body, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade or service club. Not more than one such sign shall be placed on each property unless such property fronts on more than one street, in which case one such sign may be erected on each street frontage.
C. 
An event of public interest, such as a church or public meeting, local, county or state fair, Volunteer Fire Department fair, special events of service clubs and nonprofit organizations and other similar community activities. Such signs shall be removed by the person, organization or property owner within 15 days of the date specified for the event.
ON-SITE DIRECTIONAL SIGN
Customary signs identifying parking areas, loading zones, entrances, exits and similar locations. Such signs may include a business name or professional name but shall not include any advertising message.
POLITICAL SIGN
Signs concerning a matter of public interest related to elections and/or campaigns.
[Added 11-2-2017 by Ord. No. 17-70; amended 11-21-2017 by Ord. No. 17-74]
A. 
Campaign communications in New Jersey (including yard signs) must contain a disclaimer that states the name and address of the person or group (as it appears on election commission reports) that financed the sign (N.J.S.A. 19:44A-22.3).
B. 
Political signs can be posted no more than 30 days prior to an established election date and shall be removed within 10 days after the election. [This section shall be interpreted in accordance with State v. Miller, 162 N.J. Superior 333, affirmed 83 N.J. 402].
C. 
No political sign may be placed or posted in a location that would violate § 315-194, Traffic safety, create a trash nuisance, or endanger pedestrians.
D. 
No political sign may be placed or posted on any traffic control device or public utility pole.
E. 
No political sign may be placed or posted on private property without first obtaining permission from the property owner.
F. 
The City of Trenton may regulate the manner and location in which any political sign is placed or posted on any public or City-owned property to ensure public safety.
G. 
On any Election Day, all political signs must be relocated to a location no closer than 100 feet to the entrance to any polling location.
H. 
Any violations of this section may result in removal and disposal of the political sign with no right of recompense to the sign owner and subjects the owner of the sign to a fine of no less than $25 for the first offense and a fine of no less than $50 for each subsequent offense.
SIGN
A name, identification, description, display or illustration which is affixed to, or printed or represented directly or indirectly on a building, structure or parcel of land, and which directs attention to a person, institution, organization, activity, place, object, product or business. Any structure, device, letter, word insignia, or representation that is designed to be seen from outside a building advertising activities, goods, products, services or facilities available on the premises. This definition includes signs attached onto the facade of buildings, in windows, or doors, on canopies, marquees and awnings, but does not include window displays of merchandise or signs incidental to the display of merchandise. The display of official public notices or the flag, emblem or insignia of a nation, political unit or temporary displays are not included in this definition. Signs indicating operating hours of a commercial business and credit cards which are accepted are also not included in this definition.
TEMPORARY SIGN
A sign constructed or intended for use during a limited period of time.
A. 
A sign erected on a site during the period of construction to announce the name of the project, owner or developer, contractor, architect, landscape architect or engineer.
B. 
A sign advertising the real estate upon which the sign is located as being for lease or sale.
C. 
A sign erected only on a property where work is being performed to announce the name and contact information of the mechanic, painter or other artisan conducting the work on the site.
WARNING/TRESPASSING SIGNS
Customary warning, trespassing and posted signs that indicate the private nature of a driveway or property.
All signs within the City shall be erected, constructed or maintained in accordance with the provisions of this article. No existing sign shall be enlarged, rebuilt, structurally altered or relocated except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The issuance of a permit shall not relieve the owner or lessee of the premises from the duty of maintaining safely any such structures. No sign of any description shall be installed, erected, constructed or maintained in such manner as to obstruct any fire escape or any window or door, nor shall any sign be attached in any manner to a fire escape. Every sign constructed or maintained shall be plainly marked with the name of the person, firm or corporation erecting or maintaining such sign.
No sign shall be erected in the City that would:
A. 
Obstruct the sight distance at an intersection along a public right-of-way.
B. 
Would tend by its location, color, shape, message or nature to be confused with or obstruct the view of traffic signs or traffic signals by motorists or pedestrians.
C. 
Use admonitions such as "stop," "go," "slow," "danger," etc., which might be confused with traffic directional signs.
D. 
Other than official traffic control devices or street signs, be erected within, or encroach upon, the right-of-way lines of any street, unless specifically authorized by other ordinances or regulations of the City.
No sign shall be erected or constructed that will violate any of the regulations as to health, required light, safety or air, as defined in the Building Code of the City.[1] Signs shall not extend above the roof level of the building to which they are attached.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 42, Building Construction.
Whenever a sign becomes structurally unsafe, endangers the safety of the building or endangers the public safety, the Zoning Officer shall order that such sign be made safe or removed. Such order shall be complied with within 10 days of the receipt thereof by the person owning or using the sign or the owner of the building or premises on which the unsafe sign is affixed or erected. Failure to obey such orders shall be a violation of this section.
No sign shall contain flashers, animators or mechanical movement or contrivances of any kind, except clock-and-temperature-stating devices.
Illumination devices, such as, but not limited to, floodlights or spotlights, shall be so placed and so shielded as to prevent the rays of illumination thereof from being cast into neighboring properties and approaching vehicles.
The area of a permitted sign shall be determined by multiplying the greatest horizontal dimension by the greatest vertical dimension, including spaces between open-type letters and figures and including the background structure or other decoration or addition which is an integral part of the sign. Sign supports shall be excluded in determining the area of a sign. Only one side of a double-faced sign structure shall be used in computing total sign area.
No sign device in the nature of an advertisement or announcement so constructed as to be movable, or which shall be placed on a standard sitting upon the ground, shall be placed or permitted to remain on any part of any street, sidewalk, parkway, curb or other public place.
[Amended 11-2-2017 by Ord. No. 17-70]
Temporary signs shall not remain in place for a period exceeding six months with the following exception:
A. 
Temporary real estate signs.
A. 
Administration. The Zoning Officer shall only issue an approval for the erection or construction of a sign which meets the requirements of this article. Any aggrieved person may appeal the decision of the Zoning Officer by filing such appeal with the Zoning Board of Adjustment on forms provided therefor.
B. 
Filing procedures. Application for a permit to erect, hang or place a sign shall be submitted on forms obtainable from the Zoning Officer. Each application shall be accompanied by plans showing the area of the sign, size and character, method of illumination, if any, the exact location proposed for such sign and, in the case of a projecting sign, the proposed method of fastening such sign to the building structure, the vertical distance between such sign and the finished grade and the horizontal distance between such sign and the curb and also between such sign and the right-of-way line.
C. 
Additional information. Each applicant shall, upon the request of the Zoning Officer, submit any additional information deemed necessary.
The following signs may be erected, constructed, placed and maintained without a permit:
A. 
Temporary real estate signs. Such signs shall not be illuminated nor exceed four square feet.
B. 
Temporary construction signs. Such signs shall not be illuminated and shall not exceed 32 square feet in area and shall be removed promptly upon completion of the work.
C. 
Temporary signs of tradespeople, mechanics, painters and other artisans. Such signs shall not exceed six square feet and shall be removed promptly upon completion of the work.
D. 
Warning and trespassing signs. Such signs shall not exceed three square feet.
E. 
On-site directional signs. Such signs shall not exceed two square feet in area.
F. 
Advertisement and informational signs. Such signs shall not exceed eight square feet in area.
G. 
Political signs. Such signs shall not be limited as to size.
No sign, except those listed in § 315-203 above, shall be erected, constructed, placed or structurally altered without a permit from the Zoning Officer.
A. 
Only the following types of signs shall be permitted in residential districts:
(1) 
Signs not requiring a permit, as specified in § 315-203 above.
(2) 
Nameplate and identification signs. Such signs shall be no larger than one square foot.
B. 
Number of signs. Unless otherwise specified herein, not more than one such sign shall be placed on any property, unless that property fronts on more than one street, in which event not more than one sign may be erected on each street frontage.
A. 
Only the following type of signs shall be permitted in the MU, BA and BB Districts:
(1) 
Signs not requiring a permit as specified in § 315-203 above.
(2) 
Signs permitted in residential district as specified in § 315-205 above.
(3) 
Facade signs. Such sign shall not project more than 18 inches beyond the building and shall not exceed an area equal to either 10% of the front wall area of the ground floor, including window and door areas, or 25 square feet in an MU District or 50 square feet in BA and BB Districts, whichever is smaller. Such sign shall not be closer than eight feet to the ground level of the building and shall not have a vertical dimension in excess of two feet in an MU District or 2 1/2 feet in BA and BB Districts.
(4) 
Noncommercial advertisement and information signs.
(a) 
Only signs bearing a noncommercial message shall be permitted.
(b) 
No sign shall be permitted which bears a commercial message advertising an activity, service or product conducted or available on the premises upon which the sign is located.
B. 
Number of signs. Unless otherwise specified herein, not more than one facade sign shall be permitted for each commercial use on any property, unless the property fronts on more than one street, in which event not more than one facade sign may be erected for each commercial use on each street frontage.
C. 
Signs in DD Districts. Signs permitted in DD Districts shall be as specified in § 315-115.
A. 
Only the following signs shall be permitted in industrial districts.
(1) 
Signs not requiring a permit as specified in § 315-203 above.
(2) 
Signs permitted in residential districts as specified in § 315-205 above.
(3) 
Facade signs. Such sign shall not project more than two feet beyond the building and shall not exceed an area equal to either 20% of the front wall area of the ground floor, including window and door areas, or 100 square feet, whichever is smaller. Such sign shall not be closer than eight feet to the ground level of the building and shall not have a vertical dimension in excess of four feet.
(4) 
Freestanding signs. Such signs shall not exceed a height of 25 feet, measured from the ground level to the top of the structure. The bottom edge of the sign shall not be less than 10 feet above ground level. The area of such sign shall not exceed 75 square feet and may be interior-lighted with nonglaring lights or may be illuminated by shielded floodlights.
(5) 
Billboards.
(a) 
A billboard is a permitted use, provided that:
[1] 
The maximum size of the billboard does not exceed 300 square feet.
[2] 
The billboard is not located within 500 feet of a residential or mixed-use zone district.
[3] 
The billboard is not located within 1,000 feet of the D&R Canal.
[4] 
No billboard shall extend over a public sidewalk or other public area.
[5] 
No billboard or billboards shall be stacked over or placed next to any billboard.
(b) 
A billboard is a conditional use if the advertising area, including any trim, of the billboard exceeds 300 square feet, but is no more than 672 square feet in size; or if the billboard is located within 500 feet of a residential or mixed-use zone. See Article XXII, Conditional Uses (§ 315-132 et seq.).
B. 
Number of signs.
(1) 
Unless otherwise specified herein, not more than one facade sign shall be permitted for each commercial use on any property, unless the property fronts on more than one street, in which event not more than one facade sign may be erected for each commercial use on each street frontage.
(2) 
Unless otherwise specified, not more than one freestanding sign shall be placed on any property unless the property fronts on more than one street, in which event not more than one freestanding sign may be erected on each street frontage.