City of Marlborough, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Marlborough 6-15-1992 by Ord. No. 92-4443B (Ch. 163 of the 1986 Code).[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Planning Board — See Ch. 19, Art. I.
Advertising — See Ch. 222, Art. III.
Building and site development — See Ch. 270.
Numbering of property — See Ch. 439.
Obstructions of sidewalks — See Ch. 462.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 551.
Zoning — See Ch. 650.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also superseded former Ch. 163, Signs, adopted 7-13-1987 by Ord. No. 87-1656B, as amended.
A. 
Purpose and intent. The purpose and intent of this chapter shall be to regulate, restrict and place such limitations on the size, location, type and illumination of all signs as will assure that they will be appropriate to the land, building or use to which they are appurtenant and be protective of property values and the safety of the public. Any preexisting ordinances that conflict with any provision herein are hereby expressly deleted and shall have no further effect.
B. 
Authority and interpretation. This chapter is hereby declared to be remedial and protective and is to be so construed so as to secure the beneficial interests and purposes thereof. This chapter is adopted pursuant to Chapters 93 and 43B of the General Laws of Massachusetts.
C. 
Applicability. All signs as defined herein are subject to the regulations of this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ABANDONED SIGN
A sign which no longer correctly directs or exhorts any person or advertises a bona fide business, lessor, owner, product or activity conducted on the premises where such a sign is displayed.
ALTERED
Changed in any way, including changed in structure, size, location, design or lettering.
ANIMATED SIGN
Any sign which includes figures or objects that seem to move in a life-like manner.
ARCADE
A permanent structure with a roof over a pedestrian walkway, with columns to one side and building to the other side.
AREA or SURFACE AREA
The area of the smallest rectangle or circle within which the entire sign can fit, including all lettering and accompanying symbols or designs, together with the background, whether open or enclosed, on which they are displayed and including any background of a different color or appearance than the finished material of any wall on which the sign is placed. The area shall not include basic supporting framework and bracing which does not contribute through shape, color or otherwise to the sign's message. A double-faced sign, where the sign faces are placed back to back and face in opposite directions, shall be deemed to be one sign having an area equal to the area of one side.
AWNING
A shelter projecting from and supported by the exterior wall of a building constructed of nonrigid materials on a supporting framework (compare "marquee").
AWNING SIGN
A sign painted on, printed on, or attached flat against the surface of an awning.
BACKLIT AWNING
See "electric awning sign."
BANNER
A temporary sign made of fabric or similar material, with no enclosing framework, attached at all corners or edges to a structure or structures.
BUILDING COMMISSIONER
A City employee or agent designated by the Building Commissioner of the City of Marlborough to administrator the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT
Each separate place of business whether or not consisting of one or more buildings.
CANOPY (or MARQUEE)
A permanent roof-like shelter, extending from part of or all of a building face, constructed of some durable material, such as metal, glass, plastic or concrete.
CANOPY OR MARQUEE SIGN
A sign painted on, printed on or attached flat against the surface of a canopy or marquee.
CHANGEABLE WALL PANEL SIGN
A sign consisting of a rigid rectangular frame mounted flat against a building wall such that panel or poster inserts can be replaced or altered within the frame, or a chalkboard or other dry erasable board can be mounted in the frame.
COMMERCIAL CENTER
A group of five or more business establishments totaling over 10,000 square feet gross floor area on the same lot and/or sharing the same street entrance and parking lot, or a hotel of over 100 rooms and having at least 10,000 square feet of public function rooms.
COMMERCIAL CENTER, LARGE
A commercial center with 10 or more business establishments totaling over 50,000 square feet gross floor area, or a hotel with over 150 rooms and having at least 25,000 square feet of public function rooms.
DIGITAL DISPLAY SIGN
A sign or portion thereof that incorporates light-emitting diode (LED), fiber optic or similar technology to allow messages to change or stay static.
[Added 8-25-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005880B]
ELECTRIC AWNING SIGN
Also, "backlit awning." An internally illuminated fixed-space frame structure with translucent, flexible, reinforced covering designed in awning form and with graphics or copy applied to the visible surface of the awning.
ELECTRIC SIGN
Any sign containing electrical wiring which is attached or intended to be attached to an electrical energy source.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE CENTER (EMC) SIGN
An on-premises electronically activated changeable sign or portion thereof whose variable message and/or graphic presentation capability can be electronically programmed and have the capability of changing or staying static. EMCs typically use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or similar technology as a lighting source.
[Added 8-25-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005880B]
ERECTED
Attached, altered, built, constructed, reconstructed, enlarged or moved.
ESTABLISHMENT
See "business establishment."
FACADE
That portion of the building wall containing the main exterior public entrance to one or more business establishments within, which corresponds to the width of the interior space occupied by the business establishment or establishments measured at said entrance level only.
FLAG
A temporary sign made of fabric or similar material, rectangular in shape, attached along the length of one edge only to a rope or rigid pole such that the other edges may hang freely.
FLASHING SIGN
Any sign which contains an intermittent or flashing light source or which includes the illusion of intermittent or flashing light by means of animation or an externally mounted intermittent light source.
FLAT WALL SIGN
A sign erected with the face of the sign horizontally parallel to the face of the wall to which it is attached.
FREESTANDING SIGN
A nonportable sign erected on a freestanding frame, structural base, mast, pole or wall which is not attached to any building. The area of a double-faced freestanding sign, where the sign faces are placed back to back and face in opposite directions, shall be equal to the area of one side.
HEIGHT OF FREESTANDING SIGN
The overall vertical distance measured from the grade of property where the sign is installed.
ILLUMINATED SIGN
Any sign which emanates light either by means of exposed tubing or lamps on its surface or by means of illumination transmitted through the sign face.
INDUSTRIAL PARK
An area of land developed in an orderly, planned way and leased or sold to various industrial firms.
LARGE COMMERCIAL CENTER
Refer to "commercial center, large."
MARQUEE (or CANOPY)
A permanent roof-like shelter, extending from part of or all of the building face, constructed of some durable material, such as metal, glass, plastic or concrete.
MESSAGE BOARD
A changeable sign whose informational content in the form of individual graphics, letters or numbers can be changed or altered by any means, including manual, electric, electromechanical or electronic means. Said announcement shall be limited solely to a change in offering (such as a new price, event or promotion) made by a business establishment but shall not include a change in the name of said business establishment. Said change in the name of a business establishment shall be considered an alteration to an existing sign as described in § 526-3G(3) of this chapter. A message board shall not be a portable sign but, where applicable, may be considered a freestanding sign or a flat wall sign or a window sign or a changeable wall panel sign or a part thereof and shall comply with all provisions of this chapter governing said signs.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
Any sign which advertises or announces a use conducted or goods available elsewhere other than on the lot where the sign is located.
ON-PREMISES SIGN
Any sign that advertises, calls attention to or indicates the person occupying the premises on which the sign is erected or maintained, or the business transacted thereon, or advertises the property itself or any part thereof as for sale or rent, and which contains no other message or subject.
OWNER
A person recorded as the owner of the premises upon which the sign is located on official records and including duly authorized agent or notary.
PANEL SIGN
Refer to definition of "changeable wall panel sign."
PERMANENT SIGN
Any nonportable and nontemporary sign.
PORTABLE SIGN
Any sign not permanently attached to the ground or a building, including trailer signs and A-frame signs and similar placed on the ground or temporarily staked into the ground.
PROJECTING SIGN
A sign which is permanently affixed to the exterior surface of a building or structure with the display area positioned perpendicular to the wall to which the sign is mounted.
PUBLIC STREET
An accepted public way for vehicular traffic.
REAL ESTATE SIGN
A sign pertaining solely to the rental, lease or sale of real estate.
ROOF LINE
The top edge of the roof or the top of the parapet, whichever forms the top line of the building silhouette.
ROOF SIGN
Any sign erected upon, against or directly above the roof or on top of or above the parapet of a building.
SIGN
Any object, device, display or structure or part thereof which is placed outdoors or which is visible from outdoors, which is used to advertise, identify, display, direct or attract attention to an object, person, institution, organization, business, product, service, event or location by any means, including words, letters, figures, design, symbols, fixtures, colors, illumination or projected images. "Sign" shall include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, billboards, pennants, ribbons, streamers, banners, flags, balloons, moving devices, strings of lights and similar devices. "Sign" shall not include national or state flags, official announcements or signs of government or temporary holiday decorations customarily associated with any national, local or religious holiday.
SIGN CONTRACTOR
A person, whether doing business as an individual, a sole proprietor, a partnership, a limited liability partnership, a corporation, a limited liability corporation, or any other form of business entity, and including his or her agents, employees, assigns and subcontractors, who erects, alters or relocates a sign for or on behalf of an owner.
[Added 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
SIGN STRUCTURE
Any structure which supports, has supported or is capable of supporting a sign, including decorative cover.
SPECIAL PURPOSE SIGN
Any sign other than a business nonaccessory identification sign, including but not limited to traffic signs.
TEMPORARY SIGN
Temporary signs are signs that indicate occasional events and are removed upon the conclusion of the event, except as otherwise specified for a particular sign by this chapter.
TRAILERS AND VEHICLES
For the purposes of this Sign Ordinance, a "trailer" or a "vehicle" shall be considered and regulated as a sign when such trailer or vehicle is not engaged in the usual business or work of the owner or lessee but is used merely or mainly for advertising purposes.
WALL PANEL
Refer to definition of "changeable wall panel sign."
WALL SIGN
Refer to definition of "flat wall sign."
WINDOW SIGNS
A sign placed inside a window or transparent door so as to be viewed from the exterior.
A. 
General. No sign shall be erected, altered or relocated without a permit issued by the Building Commissioner, except for the following signs which do not need permits but must still be in conformance with all other requirements of this chapter.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(1) 
All signs not visible from any the following: a public way, any public property or any abutting lot not in the same ownership.
(2) 
Temporary signs for municipally sponsored events, pursuant to § 526-6A(1).
(3) 
On-premises directional and public safety signs not visible from the public way and not in conflict with any approved site plan, pursuant to § 526-6C. (If questions on site plan, contact City Planner.)
(4) 
Window signs, pursuant to § 526-6F.
(5) 
Occupant signs for single dwelling units, pursuant to § 526-8A(1).
(6) 
Cautionary signs, pursuant to § 526-6G.
(7) 
Temporary real estate and construction signs for single- and two-family dwellings, pursuant to § 526-8B and G.
(8) 
Changeable panel signs for multifamily projects, pursuant to § 526-8C.
(9) 
Temporary signs for residential yard and garage sales, pursuant to § 526-8E.
(10) 
Temporary real estate and construction signs for nonresidential property, pursuant to § 526-9G and H.
(11) 
The following types of temporary promotional signs, pursuant to § 526-10, do not need permits: Open-for-business signs, promotional flags and window signs. In addition, no permit is required to make any changes to the lettering on an installed message board and/or to make changes to the panel inserts on an installed changeable wall panel. Note, however, that initial installation of a message board or changeable wall panel does require a permit. A permit is also required for each separate time of installation or display of a banner.
(12) 
Temporary signs for political campaigns, pursuant to § 526-11.
(13) 
Historical site plaques approved by the Marlborough Historical Commission.
B. 
Applications.
(1) 
All signs. All applications for permits shall include a drawing or design graphic to scale showing the following information:
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
(a) 
The street address where the proposed sign is to be located.
(b) 
The name of the business or other organization which occupies the address in Subsection B(1)(a) above.
(c) 
The name, address and telephone number of the following:
[1] 
The person making the sign application on behalf of the business identified in Subsection B(1)(b) above.
[2] 
The owner of the property on which the business is located (if the business is a tenant).
[3] 
The sign company installing the sign.
(d) 
A plot plan or site plan showing the buildings and driveways and the locations, dimensions and areas of the proposed sign and of all existing signs on the premises. The plot plan or site plan shall also indicate the location of the main exterior entrance to each business establishment and the linear dimension in feet of the building facade containing these entrances.
(e) 
A sketch or design graphic of the proposed sign. If a flat wall sign is proposed, the sketch or design graphic shall include the entire building facade and indicate the location and dimensions of the proposed sign and all existing flat wall signs on the building.
(f) 
Specifications for construction, lighting and wiring shall be in accordance with the State Building Code.
(g) 
Such other pertinent information as the Building Commissioner may require to ensure compliance with this chapter and any other applicable law.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(h) 
The application must be signed by the owner of the premises where the sign is to be located.
(2) 
Action on applications. The Building Commissioner shall have the authority to reject any sign permit application which is not complete when submitted. A permit shall only be issued if a sign conforms to the provisions of this chapter and all other applicable laws. An application shall be deemed to have been denied following 30 days from the date of filing of the application with the Building Commissioner, provided the required permit fee has been paid, also provided the sign applied for conforms to all provisions of this chapter, and also provided the Building Commissioner may order the removal of any new sign which does not so conform, as provided for by Subsection I below.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A; 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(3) 
Signs or other obstructions over public ways.
(a) 
Approval for obstruction. No person shall construct, erect, establish or maintain, or cause to be constructed, erected, established or maintained, in or over any part of the public street or sidewalk, any sign, awning, canopy, marquee or shade (hereinafter collectively called "obstructions") without receiving approval for an obstruction from the Building Commissioner. (This approval shall be a prerequisite for the sign permit required for the sign.)
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(b) 
Bond and insurance.
[1] 
Amount of bond and insurance. The obstruction approval shall not be effective so as to authorize the establishment or maintenance of any such sign or other obstruction over a public way until the person to whom such approval is granted has furnished the following:
[a] 
A bond with sufficient sureties, in a penal sum of $4,000, to cover the cost of removal of an obstruction as provided for under Subsection B(3)(d) below.
[b] 
An indemnity insurance policy issued by a reliable insurance or indemnity company in the sum of $1,000,000. The obligation of such insurance policy shall save the City harmless from all liability of any nature whatsoever caused directly or indirectly by the erection or maintenance of such sign or other obstruction.
[2] 
Approval of bond and insurance. The bond and indemnity insurance policy shall be subject to the approval of the City Solicitor as to form and also subject to the approval of the City Treasurer as to sufficiency. The bond and indemnity insurance policy shall be filed with the City Treasurer.
[3] 
Renewal of bond and insurance. A person to whom approval has been granted to erect or maintain such an obstruction shall annually thereafter file a bond and indemnity insurance policy in renewal or extension of the bond and insurance policy filed at the time such approval was granted. A failure to file shall nullify the obstruction permit, in which event the obstruction shall be removed immediately.
(c) 
Certification by installer. Following installation of the sign or other obstruction, and prior to inspection by the Building Commissioner, the Building Commissioner shall require certification from the installer that the obstruction has been designed according to all code requirements and has been securely fastened and supported so as not to endanger persons on the sidewalk or street below.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(d) 
Removal by City. The Building Commissioner may order any obstruction within the limits of any street or sidewalk to be removed at any time, for any violation associated with the obstruction or for public safety reasons, and the obstruction shall thereupon be forthwith removed by the person maintaining it. In case of failure to remove the obstruction as required above, the City may use the bond as described in Subsection B(3)(b) above to pay for the cost of removal by the City.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
C. 
Fees.
(1) 
No sign permit shall be effective until the required fee has been paid in accordance with the schedule of fees as follows:
(a) 
All signs, except the following: temporary promotional signs, any type of sign or other obstruction located over a public way, off-premises directional signs.
[1] 
A base fee of $35, plus $1 per square foot of sign area in excess of 50 square feet.
(b) 
Temporary promotional signs as specified in § 526-10, and temporary banners for multifamily residential projects as specified in § 526-8C.
[1] 
Open-for-business signs: no fee.
[2] 
Promotional flags: no fee for display of any flag. However, a building permit is required for the installation of the pole structure, with plans or specifications for the pole foundation; refer to § 526-10D(2)(a).
[3] 
Window signs: no fee.
[4] 
Message board signs: $10 for initial installation, but no fee to change wording thereafter.
[5] 
Changeable wall panel signs: $10 for initial installation, but no fee to change or alter panel inserts thereafter.
[6] 
Temporary banners: $10 for each separate time of installation or display.
(c) 
Any type of projecting sign or other obstruction located over a public way (For example: a projecting sign, an awning or awning sign, a canopy or canopy sign, a marquee or marquee sign, a sun shade, etc, located over a sidewalk or public way): $50, accompanied by the bond and insurance policy as required by § 526-3B(2).
(d) 
Off-premises directional signs: $50, unless the sign is made by the City and/or installed by the City within the public way, in which case the fee shall be the full cost of making and installing the sign, plus $50.
(2) 
No fees shall be charged for organizations whose primary purpose is charitable, religious, educational or governmental.
D. 
Nullification. A sign permit shall become null and void if sign is not completed and in place within a period of six months from the date of the permit.
E. 
Inspection. All signs for which a permit is required shall be inspected by the Building Commissioner within a reasonable period of time, or as required by the Building and/or Wiring Codes, and may be inspected periodically to ensure continued compliance with this chapter and other requirements of law. Owners shall be notified in writing of violations, and such signs shall be brought into conformity or removed within 30 days.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
F. 
Existing signs. "Existing signs" are defined as those erected before the date of passage of this chapter and are classified into one of three separate categories. These are:
(1) 
Conforming sign: A sign which complies with all provisions of this chapter.
(2) 
Prohibited sign: as specified in § 526-7.
(3) 
Nonconforming sign: A sign which does not comply with one or more provisions of this chapter, but which is not defined as a prohibited sign in § 526-7.
G. 
All nonconforming signs shall be brought into conformance no later than June 23, 2000.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
H. 
New signs. Any sign erected after June 23, 1986, is considered a new sign.
I. 
Removal of new signs. The Building Commissioner shall order the removal of any new sign erected or maintained in violation of this chapter or installed without permit. The Building Commissioner will issue his findings of violation and order of removal in writing. Penalties provided elsewhere in this chapter shall be assessed against the owner of such sign or the owner of the building, structure, or premises on which such sign is located or affixed for each day said sign remains in place after that date on which the order of removal has been issued by the Building Commissioner upon the identified violator. The required removal of a sign as provided for above shall include the removal of all supporting structure and frame, except as otherwise specified by the Building Commissioner.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
A. 
Method of construction. No sign shall be painted or posted directly on the exterior surface of any wall. All exterior signs, except awning signs, shall be painted, posted or otherwise securely affixed to a substantial intermediary removable surface which shall be securely affixed to the building. The foregoing, however, shall not prevent installation of a sign consisting of individual letters or devices securely affixed to the exterior wall of the building.
B. 
Conformance to code. The material and construction of any sign and intermediary surface and the manner of affixation of the sign to the intermediary surface and the intermediary surface to the wall of the building shall be in accordance with applicable provisions of the State Building Code and with the reasonable requirements of the Building Commissioner.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
C. 
Maintenance. All signs, together with their structural elements, shall be kept in good repair and in a proper state of preservation to the reasonable satisfaction of the Building Commissioner. Defective parts shall be replaced or repaired. The Building Commissioner may order the removal of any sign that is not maintained in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
D. 
Signs or other obstructions over public ways. Refer to § 526-3B(2).
The light from any sign or advertising lights shall be so shaded, shielded or directed or shall be maintained at a sufficiently low level of intensity and brightness that it shall not adversely affect neighboring premises nor the safe vision of operators of vehicles moving on public roads and highways. All lighted signs and advertising lights shall be so shaded, shielded or directed that they shall not reflect or shine on or into residential structures to an extent that would adversely affect them.
The following signs are permitted in all zoning districts:
A. 
Temporary off-premises signs.
(1) 
Municipally sponsored events. Signs of any type located on public property and advertising a municipally sponsored event may be displayed with the approval of the Mayor.
(2) 
Other public and nonprofit events. Signs of any type advertising a charitable, religious, cultural or educational event may be displayed in designated locations for a designated period of time with the approval of the Planning Board. All such signs which are freestanding signs shall be no larger than 32 square feet, shall be displayed for no more than 30 days per event, shall be removed within two days after such event, and shall contain wording prominently displayed at the top of the sign identifying the name of the organization and including the words "nonprofit."
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
(3) 
For-profit events. Privately sponsored, for-profit temporary events may not be advertised with signs located off-premises, except that sponsors of major events attracting large numbers of visitors may apply in each instance for a variance for temporary signage.
B. 
Permanent off-premises directional signs (other than official traffic or street signs).
(1) 
Purpose. Off-premises directional signs allowed herein are intended solely to assist pedestrians or motorists in finding their way to specific destinations. They are not for advertising purposes or for temporary events. The intent of the Sign Ordinance is that off-premises directional signs shall be approved only when there is a demonstrated need, taking into account the intent of this chapter to minimize the number of separate freestanding signs near the public way.
(2) 
Directional signs located within the public way.
(a) 
Uses. Such signs shall be limited to the following uses:
[1] 
Major uses. These uses shall include public or quasi-public services or institutions or other major destinations. Examples include, but are not limited to, directional signs to bus stops serving private carriers, parking lots for car pools, convention or trade centers, private schools or colleges, major employers or other institutions drawing large numbers of out-of-town visitors, and similar uses.
[2] 
Minor uses. None are allowed. Signs for such uses, if approved, shall be located on other lots, as provided for in Subsection B(3) below.
(b) 
Area. Off-premises signs in the public way shall be of a standard design of the City or Mass. DPW. They shall be manufactured and installed by the City at the expense of the applicant if so required by the City.
(3) 
Directional signs located on other lots.
(a) 
Uses. Such signs shall be limited to the following uses.
[1] 
Major uses. All major uses as listed in Subsection B(2) above, in the event the major uses do not have signs within the public way.
[2] 
Minor uses. Signs for uses which are situated behind and obstructed from public view by other buildings on other lots and which do not themselves have frontage on any of the major through streets. No such sign shall be permitted for a home occupation.
(b) 
Area. The sign area for major uses, where the sign is placed on another lot, shall not exceed six square feet per business establishment identified on the sign. The sign area for minor uses shall not exceed two square feet per business establishment identified on the sign. The sign shape shall generally be a narrow rectangle, with an arrow at one end pointing in the required direction.
(c) 
Number of signs. There shall be no more than the necessary number of locations at which any particular business may be identified by an off-premises sign as provided hereunder. It is the intention of this Sign Ordinance that, in circumstances where several businesses are similarly situated, their off-premises sign panels shall all be attached to one freestanding pole or be combined into one integrated flat wall sign, with each business having its own replaceable panel.
(4) 
Application and decision.
(a) 
Application. In order that sign requirements may be explained in advance, applicants should arrange for a preliminary review meeting with the Building Commissioner and City Planner (acting as agent for the City approving agency) prior to making any formal application for an off-premises sign. If a formal application is filed, it shall be accompanied by a filing fee of $25, together with a letter of approval signed by the property owner on whose land the sign will be located. Applications shall be made to the City approving agency, as specified in Subsection B(4)(b) below.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(b) 
Decision. The City approving agency shall be the Planning Board, which shall make the following determinations before approving any off-premises sign.
[1] 
Alternatives to off-premises signs. Except in cases where off-premises signs are deemed to be in the public interest, the City approving agencies shall require that all practical alternatives be pursued first before allowing off-premises directional signs. For example:
[a] 
New street sign. If a street sign is missing, unclear, poorly located, or small in area, then the approving agency may require that a new and larger street sign be installed as an alternative or be installed for a trial period before the request for the off-premises sign is resubmitted.
[b] 
New on-premises signs. If the problem could be solved by a different sign on the premises (rather than off the premises), such as by adding a message board to the freestanding sign, or by increasing the sign area, or by adding the street number to the sign, then the City approving agency may require that the on-premises signs be changed first.
[2] 
Standards and demonstration of need. The approving agency shall base its decision on the following factors: The type of business or the function served, the frequency of visits, the number of people visiting the business, the degree of difficulty in finding the business, the number of other businesses similarly situated in the general vicinity, and any other factors it considers relevant, including alternatives (see Subsection B(4)(b)[1] above). The approving agency may require the applicant to produce necessary information to justify the off-premises sign and to enable the approving agency to make a decision serving both the public interest and the private interest of the business and not causing an undesirable precedent. Such information may include a plan showing the specific location and design of all signs proposed. The approving agency may place any reasonable condition upon the approval of such sign, which shall be further restricted as provided in Subsection B(2) and (3) above.
[3] 
State approval. No approval granted by the City for a sign falling under this paragraph shall be valid if said sign is visible from a state or federal highway, unless approval is granted for said sign by the Outdoor Advertising Bureau of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, or its successor, in accordance with MGL Chapter 93.
C. 
Permanent on-premises directional and traffic safety signs. Privately erected directional and traffic signs, including service and delivery signs and signs setting restrictions on the use of parking areas, located on the same lot and subject to the approval of the City department coordinating site plan approval and not exceeding four square feet in area per sign and four feet in height, provided that no more than 25% of the sign area shall identify the business establishment. Directional and traffic safety signs which are not visible from the public street or from another lot may be installed in any location and in any size without permit or fee, provided they do not change the type, scale or direction of traffic movement on or off site, in which case applicants should refer questions on this matter to the City Planner for site plan approval.
D. 
Approved signs. Any sign erected before June 23, 1986, which is included in a special permit or variance issued by the City Council, shall be deemed to conform to the provisions hereof until either the expiration date of such special permit or variance or until enlarged, reworded, redesigned, replaced or altered in any way, including repainting in a different color or relettering, except to conform to the requirements of this chapter, and no permit requirement shall exist with respect to such sign until June 23, 1989. Thereafter, such sign must conform to the provisions herein or be removed.
E. 
Churches. One bulletin or announcement board, identification sign or entrance marker for each public street entrance to the premises upon which a church, synagogue, or other religious institution is located, not exceeding 12 square feet in area.
F. 
Window signs. Permanent window signs shall not require a sign permit, provided that their aggregate display surface covers no more than 50% of the window or door on which they are placed. Temporary window signs may cover no more than 75% of the window or door on which they are placed. Temporary window signs promoting a public service or charitable event shall not be calculated in the allowable 75%. Temporary window signs may be displayed for a period of time not to exceed 14 days, and shall be removed within 48 hours after the sale, event or reason for the sign has been concluded.
G. 
Cautionary signs. Privately erected signs not related to traffic, such as "Beware of Dog," "Danger" or "No Trespassing," provided said cautionary signs do not exceed two square feet in area.
The following are prohibited:
A. 
A sign which advertises an activity, business, product or service no longer produced or conducted on the premises upon which the sign is located. No such sign shall remain in place in or on vacated premises for more than 30 days from the date the vacancy commenced.
B. 
Off-premises signs. A sign advertising businesses, services or activities located at different premises from the premises on which the sign is located, except off-premises signs pursuant to § 526-6A and B and political signs pursuant to § 526-11.
C. 
A sign which contains or consists of pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners, other moving devices, strings of light bulbs or other similar devices, banners, balloons and flags with the exception of banners and flags pursuant to § 526-10 and with the exception of temporary lighting for holiday decoration.
D. 
An electrically activated sign which has blinking, flashing or fluttering lights or other illuminating devices which have a changing light intensity, brightness or color, except public service signs showing time and temperature.
E. 
A mechanically activated sign, other than rotating barber poles.
F. 
A sign illuminated externally by other than a stationary white or off-white steady light.
G. 
A sign which is pasted or attached to a utility pole, tree, fence or structure such as an overpass and bridge is prohibited.
H. 
A sign pasted or attached to another sign unless such subsidiary portions are an integral part of the total sign design.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
I. 
A sign placed upon a roof, except that signs placed upon a mansard roof of buildings that are less than or equal to 1 1/2 stories are permitted, provided the sign is no higher than the top of said mansard roof.
J. 
A portable sign, except as follows:
(1) 
Temporary real estate signs under nine square feet in area in residential districts, pursuant to § 526-8.
(2) 
Yard and garage sale signs in residential districts, pursuant to § 526-8E.
(3) 
Temporary seasonal signs, pursuant to § 526-10E.
K. 
Any sign erected in violation of this chapter.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
L. 
Any sign which, due to its shape, colors and/or words, resembles a traffic sign or traffic control device or which in any way creates a hazard to traffic or pedestrians, obscures or confuses traffic controls, or blocks the twenty-five-foot site visibility triangle requirements contained in the City's Zoning Ordinance.[1]
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 650, Zoning.
M. 
Any sign which in any way obstructs free entrance or egress from a door, window or fire escape.
In a residence district, or where a residential use legally exists in a nonresidential district, the following signs only are permitted. Such signs may be freestanding signs or flat wall signs.
A. 
Occupant sign.
(1) 
Name and address. One freestanding sign and one flat wall or nameplate sign of not more than two square feet displaying the street number and/or the name of the occupant of the property.
(2) 
Home occupation sign. The signs permitted in Subsection A(1) above may be increased in area to no more than three square feet in order to allow identification of a customary home occupation as defined in and permitted by Chapter 650, Zoning.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
B. 
Temporary real estate sign for single-family lots.
(1) 
Freestanding sign. No more than one sign per lot, with an area of no more than four square feet and a height no more than four feet.
(2) 
Flat wall sign. No more than one sign, with an area of no more than four square feet.
C. 
Temporary real estate sign for multifamily development or subdivision of more than one lot.
(1) 
Freestanding sign. No more than one of the following signs may be used at any one time:
(a) 
One temporary freestanding sign, provided that no permanent freestanding sign for the development has been installed on site. (See Subsection D below.) The sign shall have an area of not more than four square feet for the first lot or dwelling unit, plus 1/2 square foot for each additional lot or dwelling unit, up to a maximum of 30 square feet of total sign area for all lots or units;
(b) 
One temporary banner on the permanent freestanding sign (if one exists), provided the banner meets all requirements of § 526-10D(7); or
(c) 
One changeable panel under the permanent freestanding sign (if one exists). The panel shall be temporarily attached below the permanent freestanding sign, such that the panel can be independently removed (e.g., on hooks). The panel may have an area no larger than four square feet or, alternatively, a larger area equal to no more than two feet multiplied by the width in feet of the permanent sign. No permit or fee is required to install or alter a changeable panel.
(2) 
Flat wall sign or wall banner. No more than one of the following signs may be used at any one time:
(a) 
One temporary flat wall (rigid) sign with an area no larger than the area allowed for the temporary freestanding sign permitted under Subsection C(1) above. The temporary flat wall sign may continue to be used for an indefinite period, provided it is fixed to the exterior wall enclosing vacant space intended for rental or sale; or
(b) 
One temporary wall banner with an area no larger than twice the area allowed for the temporary freestanding sign permitted under Subsection B(1) above. The banner must be hung flat against the wall of any building in the complex and shall be displayed on no more than three separate occasions totalling up to 90 days in any year, with a permit for each occasion specifying the starting and ending dates. No banner shall be permitted for the sale or rental of an individually owned unit in a multiple unit residential complex, such as a condominium complex.
D. 
Permanent residential development sign. Permanent signs identifying a subdivision or multifamily development are permitted as follows:
(1) 
Permanent main sign.
(a) 
Number. One sign, provided that no temporary freestanding or flat wall signs already exist on site, unless they are first removed.
(b) 
Location. The permanent sign shall be located near the major public entrance off the street into the multifamily development or subdivision.
(c) 
Area. Not more than four square feet for the first lot or dwelling unit, plus 1/2 square foot for each additional lot or dwelling unit, up to a maximum of 30 square feet of total sign area for all lots or units.
(d) 
Changeable sign panels. The changeable panels described in Subsection C(1)(c) above may be hung beneath a permanent residential development sign.
(e) 
Type. The sign may be a freestanding or a flat wall sign but not both. Alternatively the sign may be attached to a stone wall, retaining wall or other landscaping feature on the lot, provided that such sign and feature, in the opinion of the Planning Board, are an integral component of the landscaping design on the lot.
(2) 
Permanent secondary sign. An additional freestanding sign of 1/2 the area of the main sign [allowed by Subsection D(1) above] may be located at any secondary driveway entrance situated over 150 feet away from the main driveway entrance.
E. 
Temporary yard and garage sales. One freestanding or portable sign of up to nine square feet in area may be installed on a lot at each driveway entrance, provided the sign is displayed no more than one day before the sale and removed no more than one day after the sale.
F. 
Flags and open-for-business signs. Promotional flags and open-for-business signs meeting all the requirements of § 526-10D(1) and (2) may be permitted on a parcel of land containing a multifamily development of over 10 units or a subdivision of over 10 single-family lots, provided there is a sales or rental office open on site.
G. 
Temporary construction sign. One contractor's sign, not exceeding 12 square feet in area (except as otherwise required by law), maintained on the property while construction is in progress, and containing information relevant to the project. Such sign shall be removed promptly after completion of construction.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
The following regulations pertain to signs in Business, Industrial, Limited Industrial, and Commercial and Automotive Districts and to legally nonconforming businesses located in residence districts but not to home occupations.
A. 
General and special regulations. The general regulations in the following subsections are applicable to all nonresidence uses, except where special regulations are provided; for example, signs for gas stations are provided for in § 526-9K, and for the Downtown Business District in § 526-9L.
B. 
Flat wall signs.
(1) 
Location. A flat wall sign may be located anywhere on any wall of a building occupied by a business establishment, provided the sign shall not conceal any part of a window, that its length shall not exceed 7/8 of the facade of the business establishment, and that it does not project beyond or above the top or sides of the wall to which it is attached, nor more than 14 inches from the face of the wall, unless mounted on a canopy, arcade or awning pursuant to § 526-9B(2) below.
(2) 
Canopy, marquee or awning sign.
(a) 
Location. A sign may be located on any face of a canopy, marquee or awning located on the first floor level only.
(b) 
Area. The area of a sign on the front face of a canopy, marquee or awning shall be included within the total allowable area for flat wall signs. Additional area shall be available for signs located on any projecting side or end of a canopy, marquee or awning, provided that this additional area shall be no larger than one square foot for each foot that the canopy, marquee or awning projects out from the face of the building.
(c) 
Illumination. A canopy, marquee or awning may be backlit except in the Downtown Business District.
(3) 
Calculation of area.
(a) 
Basic area. Unless otherwise hereinafter provided, the total area of all flat wall signs shall not exceed 1 1/2 square feet for each horizontal linear foot of the facade of the establishment, provided that the aggregate area of all flat wall signs for any one establishment on any one building shall not exceed 100 square feet, except for bonus area provided in § 526-9B(4) and (5) below.
(b) 
Number of signs and allocation of area. Any number of separate flat wall signs may be erected on the face of a building, provided they meet all provisions of this section and do not exceed the aggregate area allowed by Subsection B(3)(a), Basic area, above.
(c) 
Area of canopy, marquee or awning sign: refer to Subsection B(2) above.
(4) 
Bonus area for multiple frontage. If the building has frontage on more than one public street, or public entrances on more than one facade, then an additional flat wall sign area of one square foot shall be allowed for each linear foot of such additional facade frontage. Such additional sign area shall appear solely on that side of the building which gives rise to the multiple frontage and shall be used exclusively for the business establishment having its facade on that frontage. In no case shall more than two facades be counted on any one building for the purpose of calculating total allowable sign area, which shall not exceed 150 square feet per establishment except for bonus area provided for in § 526-9B(5).
(5) 
Bonus for large buildings. If a single business establishment has over 20,000 square feet on one floor of one building, the area of flat wall signs for that establishment may be increased by an additional 10 square feet for each 100 feet of facade of the establishment and for each 100 feet the establishment is set back from the public street, provided the total sign area does not exceed 200 square feet for a single business establishment, provided the flat wall sign faces and can be viewed from the public way with no obstructing building or other object between the sign and the street.
C. 
Freestanding signs.
(1) 
General.
(a) 
Height. Except as provided below, a freestanding sign may not exceed 15 feet in height plus one foot for each 10 square feet of sign area or part thereof, up to a maximum height of 30 feet, above ground level to the top of the sign. A sign up to 50 feet in height may be allowed, provided it is designed to be viewed solely from an interstate highway.
(b) 
Sign setback. A freestanding sign must be on the subject lot and may not extend over a public way.
(c) 
Building setback. A freestanding sign may not be erected on a lot unless the building is set back at least 30 feet from the public way, provided that a building set back between 10 feet and 30 feet from the public way shall be restricted to a freestanding sign 50% smaller than otherwise permitted.
(2) 
Calculation of area.
(a) 
Basic area. Unless otherwise hereinafter provided, the surface area of all freestanding signs, including tenant signs, shall not exceed 1/2 square foot for each horizontal linear foot of the facade of the establishment. A maximum of 50 square feet shall be allowed on any freestanding sign, except for the addition of bonus areas allowed in Subsection C(2)(b) and (c) below, and for commercial centers in § 526-9D.
(b) 
Bonus area for street number. An additional area shall be provided for the street number, which shall be included on the face of the sign in a prominent location at the top of the sign, utilizing the bonus area of one square foot for each 10 square feet of sign area, with a minimum bonus area of four square feet and a maximum additional area of 10 square feet on one freestanding sign.
(c) 
Bonus area for message board. An additional area may be provided for a message board, provided it is installed as an integral part of the freestanding sign and complies with all requirements of § 526-10D(4), Message board signs. The bonus area shall be a thirty-three-percent increase in the basic area allowed by Subsection C(2)(a) above, with a minimum bonus of not less than 15 square feet and a maximum bonus of 50 square feet. This bonus shall be applied only once for one message board on each freestanding sign considered as a whole. If there are several sign panels for separate businesses, all on the same freestanding sign, then the owner or manager of the complex shall be responsible for allocating the use of the one message board between the several tenants.
(3) 
Number of signs.
(a) 
Main sign. One freestanding sign shall be permitted on each nonresidential zoned parcel with frontage on a public way and having its own vehicular entrance off the public way into its own parking lot.
(b) 
Secondary signs. Subject to prior conformance with requirements of Subsection C(3)(b)[4] and [5] below, the following secondary signs shall be permitted.
[1] 
Secondary signs for multiple street entrances. A parcel with driveway entrances spaced more than 250 feet apart off a public way may have a secondary sign at each such secondary entrance, which sign shall not exceed 25 square feet in area, except in commercial centers. See Subsection C(3)(b)[4] and [5] below.
[2] 
Secondary sign for multiple buildings. A complex of buildings (such as a large shopping plaza), located on one or more lots under unified ownership or control and containing multiple business tenants, may have secondary freestanding signs as follows:
[a] 
Number. One secondary sign for each isolated building in the complex, where the isolated building meets the following requirements: The isolated building must contain over 1,000 square feet of usable interior floor space, be physically isolated from any other building in the complex by a distance of over 50 feet, be located within 150 feet of the public street, have no other building or freestanding sign between the isolated building and the public street, and be situated (or capable of being situated) on its own lot conforming to Chapter 650, Zoning and MGL Chapter 41.
[b] 
Use. The content of the secondary sign must be associated solely with the business conducted within the isolated building, and the content of the main sign serving the complex shall contain no reference to the business conducted in the isolated building.
[c] 
Area. The area of the secondary sign shall be calculated based upon the facade length of the isolated building, in accordance with § 526-9C(2), up to a maximum of 50 square feet. This facade shall not be counted in calculating the area of the main sign.
[d] 
Location. The secondary sign shall be situated within a landscaped area of at least 100 square feet, in front of the isolated building. See Subsection C(3)(b)[4] and [5] below.
[3] 
Secondary sign for parcels with multiple or long frontage. A lot, or abutting lots under unified ownership, may have one secondary freestanding sign for each 250 linear feet of street frontage or part thereof, provided the area of the secondary sign shall not exceed 50 square feet, and also provided the content of the secondary sign shall not repeat the content of the main sign or of any other secondary sign. See Subsection C(3)(b)[4] and [5] below.
[4] 
Separation and duplication of secondary signs. In no case shall any secondary sign be permitted if any sign on the lot is nonconforming. In no case shall any freestanding sign be located closer than 100 feet to any other freestanding sign in the same complex lot, whether the sign is a main or secondary sign. In addition, the area of all freestanding signs combined shall not exceed the total area allowed by § 526-9C(2), calculated on the basis of 1/2 square foot for each horizontal linear foot of the facade of all applicable buildings on the lot.
[5] 
Landscaping and other site features. Secondary freestanding signs are considered a bonus provision, which shall require certain improvements on site in return for receiving the bonus. Accordingly, no secondary freestanding signs described above shall be permitted unless the site meets landscaping and screening requirements of Chapter 650, Zoning, to the maximum practical extent, specifically including the following:
[a] 
Provision of a fifteen-foot-wide landscape strip along the street frontage, outside of the street right-of-way. This may be reduced to a minimum of 10 feet if there are serious practical difficulties on the site.
[b] 
Landscaping shall be protected by six-inch vertical curbing in heavily travelled areas, and the landscaping and curbing shall be properly maintained thereafter.
[c] 
Curb openings to the street are to be a maximum of 30 feet wide.
[d] 
All junk/storage areas must be screened.
(4) 
Minimum frontage. No sign larger than 25 square feet in area shall be placed along any public street frontage of less than 60 feet.
D. 
Commercial centers. In commercial centers, as defined in this chapter, all the provisions of § 526-9 shall apply, except that:
(1) 
Bonus freestanding sign area for commercial centers.
(a) 
Main sign. The basic area of the main freestanding sign (including the area for all tenant panels on the main sign) allowed under § 526-9C(2)(a) may be increased up to a maximum of 100 square feet in a commercial center or 200 square feet in a large commercial center, plus any bonus area allowed under § 526-9C(2)(b) and (c), including the street number and message board.
(b) 
Secondary signs. The freestanding signs at secondary entrances allowed under § 526-9C(3)(b)[1] may be increased in area up to a maximum of 50 square feet per sign in a commercial center and 100 square feet per sign in a large commercial center. The total surface area of all freestanding signs (including the main sign and all secondary signs) shall be calculated on the same basis as provided in § 526-9C(2), which is 1/2 square foot for each horizontal linear foot of the facade of all establishments at the ground level. It is not the intention of this chapter that every tenant in large commercial centers be identified on the freestanding signs permitted.
(2) 
(Reserved)
(3) 
Flat wall signs. See § 526-9B for special provisions for larger buildings.
(4) 
Canopy signs. Signs in addition to the above-listed signs may be suspended under a pedestrian canopy or arcade located entirely over private property and attached to the front of a commercial center, provided the sign face perpendicular to the facade of the building under the canopy is set back at least six feet from the front of the canopy, and also provided the surface area of each sign shall be no greater than six square feet and there shall be no more than one sign per business establishment fronting on the canopy. The minimum clearance between such sign and the sidewalk below shall be eight feet.
(5) 
When a freestanding sign in a commercial center or on any parcel with multiple tenants does not conform to this chapter, then any alteration of that sign, whether in whole or in part, shall require that the entire sign shall be brought into conformity with § 526-3G(3).
E. 
Industrial and limited industrial parks.
(1) 
Name of industrial park. In an industrial or limited industrial park of more than 10 acres, the same restrictions on freestanding signs shall apply, except that a park sign not to exceed 100 square feet in area may be placed at each public street entrance to such park, provided that such sign area may be increased by one square foot for each additional acre the park exceeds 10 acres in size, up to a maximum of 150 square feet per sign. An additional park sign 50% larger than the aforementioned maximum allowable dimensions shall be permitted within the park adjacent to interstate highways, provided that the interstate highway abuts the park, the sign is more than 200 feet from any local street or highway, and the sign is placed to be viewed solely from the interstate highway. These provisions are intended solely for the industrial park and not for individual industries in a park.
(2) 
Directory sign. A directory sign for businesses located within an industrial park, subject to approval as provided below, may be located at suitable points within the industrial park and may provide a sign area of up to five square feet for the name of each business having its own premises within the park, plus an additional twenty-five-square-foot area for a map showing the layout of the park, up to a maximum total area of 200 square feet on the sign. For purposes of approval, such sign shall be treated as an off-premises directional sign under § 526-6B requiring special approval.
F. 
Unimproved property. One freestanding sign shall be allowed for legally permissible business conducted on an unimproved lot where the lot has no driveway entrance off the street into the lot and where there are no buildings on the lot, provided the sign shall not exceed one square foot per linear foot of frontage, up to a maximum of 50 square feet per lot.
G. 
Temporary real estate signs for nonresidential. Signs pertaining to the lease or sale of a lot or building, or space within a building, shall be allowed as follows.
(1) 
Freestanding sign. No more than one of the following may be used at any one time:
(a) 
One temporary freestanding sign of no more than 25 square feet, provided that the sign may be displayed only until such time as the lot or building has been rented or sold, but in no event more than one year after any permanent freestanding sign for the lot or building has been installed on site, unless the entire property is to be sold or is available for lease or unless a variance for an extension of time is granted. (Other types of temporary real estate signs may continue to be used, as provided below.)
(b) 
One temporary banner on the permanent freestanding sign (if one exists), provided the banner meets all requirements of § 526-10D(7).
(c) 
One changeable panel on the permanent freestanding sign (if one exists) as follows:
[1] 
Location of panel on face of main freestanding sign. Where a business rental unit is vacant and one or more sign panels for each tenant exist on a permanent freestanding sign on the lot, then a temporary panel (with the words "for rent," "vacancy," "available" or similar) may be placed so that it covers a tenant panel, provided the temporary panel shall not be larger than the tenant panel behind.
[2] 
Location of panel underneath main freestanding sign. No more than one changeable panel shall be temporarily attached below the permanent freestanding sign, such that the panel can be independently removed (e.g., on hooks). The panel may have an area no larger than four square feet or, alternatively, a larger area equal to no more than two feet multiplied by the width in feet of the permanent sign. No permit or fee is required to install or alter a changeable panel.
(2) 
Flat wall sign or wall banner. No more than one of the following may be used at any one time:
(a) 
One temporary flat wall (rigid) sign of no more than 25 square feet. The temporary flat wall sign may continue to be used for an indefinite period, provided it is fixed to the exterior wall enclosing vacant space intended for rental or sale; or
(b) 
One temporary wall banner as allowed by § 526-10D(6).
H. 
Temporary construction signs.
(1) 
New construction. One contractor's sign, not exceeding 32 square feet in area (except as otherwise required by law), maintained on the property while construction is in progress and containing information relevant to the project. Such sign shall be removed promptly after completion of construction. Such sign may be a freestanding or a flat wall sign.
(2) 
Remodeling. One sign of 15 square feet, with the same restrictions as for Subsection H(1) above.
I. 
Directional signs. Directional signs are permitted by this chapter in § 526-6.
J. 
Building occupant index signs. One sign (freestanding or flat wall) shall be permitted at each common doorway entrance to a building containing several business establishments which do not have separate entrances for their own exclusive use. Such sign shall not exceed an area determined on the basis of one square foot for each establishment occupying the building and shall be located within 10 feet of the doorway entrance.
K. 
Gasoline station signs.
(1) 
Applicability. The following special provisions shall be applicable solely to lots where the primary use is the retail sale of gasoline.
(2) 
Freestanding sign (for gasoline stations only):
(a) 
Number. No more than one freestanding sign shall be permitted on the lot. No additional sign shall be allowed for multiple frontage or driveways or buildings on the lot.
(b) 
Area.
[1] 
Base area. Except as provided below, the maximum base area for a freestanding sign shall be one square foot for each foot of facade length for all panels on the sign, provided certain landscape and other site features are provided on site as specified in Subsection K(5), Landscaping and other site features, below. The length of the facade for purposes of calculating allowable sign area for gasoline stations only shall be measured as follows: If a roof canopy is provided over the pumps, measure either 2/3 the canopy length as the facade length or the full length of the enclosed building as the facade length, but not both.
[2] 
Bonus area. Additional sign area may be used if the following additional services are provided on the same lot, provided that the total sign area, including bonus areas, shall not exceed 100 square feet for all panels on the one freestanding sign.
[a] 
Ten square feet for auto care or maintenance or repairs or mechanic.
[b] 
Ten square feet for diesel fuel.
[c] 
Ten square feet for car wash.
[d] 
Ten square feet for food mart or equivalent convenience store, if a minimum of 300 square feet is allocated solely to this use.
[e] 
Five square feet for "Massachusetts Inspection" sign (standard sign).
[3] 
Allocation of sign area to price and brand. At least 1/3 of the total allowable sign area must be used for gas prices and 1/3 for brand name or symbol. If the sign area is not so used, then the area shall be reduced accordingly by 1/3.
[4] 
Measurement of sign area. The area of freestanding signs for gas stations shall be measured as the smallest rectangle covering all panels on the one sign pole, as is required for all other freestanding signs by § 526-2.
(c) 
Height of freestanding sign. See § 526-9C(1).
(3) 
Flat wall signs (for gasoline stations only):
(a) 
Number. Any number of flat wall signs can be placed on the building walls, as provided for by § 526-9B(1), or on the canopy face.
(b) 
Area. The maximum sign area shall be 1 1/2 square feet for each linear foot of facade, up to a maximum of 100 square feet total for all flat wall signs. The facade length shall be measured in the same manner as for the freestanding signs in Subsection K(2) above.
(4) 
Other signs for gas stations only. The following signs may be installed in addition to the freestanding and flat wall signs allowed in gas stations by Subsection K(2) and (3) above.
(a) 
Official Massachusetts Inspection Station sign. The official Massachusetts Inspection sign can be attached to a freestanding sign pole, provided the sign is no larger than four square feet, or it can be placed in a window or door or on a wall of the station building or near the pumps under a canopy. (No sign permit is needed.)
(b) 
Official warning signs under four square feet. (No sign permit is needed.)
(c) 
Traffic Directional signs ("in," "out," etc.), if under four square feet and they contain no advertising and no name or symbol of station or gasoline. (A sign permit is required; see § 526-6.)
(d) 
Instructions for car wash, if placed flat on wall of building and if under four square feet. (No sign permit is needed.)
(e) 
Advertising signs under four square feet placed on or directly above the gasoline pumps, provided there is no more than one sign per pump. (No sign permit is needed.)
(f) 
Temporary promotional signs. See § 526-10 for additional signs permitted at gasoline stations, including open-for-business signs, window signs, message boards, changeable wall panel signs, and banners.
(5) 
Landscaping and other site features. The special formula in Subsection K(2)(b)[1] above for calculating freestanding sign area, which results in a larger sign area for gasoline stations than permitted for other commercial uses, shall not be applicable to a gasoline station site unless it meets landscaping and screening requirements of Chapter 650, Zoning, to the maximum practical extent, specifically including the following:
(a) 
Provision of a fifteen-foot-wide landscape strip along the street frontage outside of the street right-of-way. This may be reduced to a minimum of 10 feet if there are serious practical difficulties on site.
(b) 
Landscaping shall be protected by six-inch vertical curbing, and the landscaping and curbing shall be properly maintained thereafter.
(c) 
Curb openings to the street shall be a maximum of 30 feet wide.
(d) 
All junk/storage areas must be screened.
(6) 
Prohibited signs. All signs prohibited by this chapter under § 526-7 shall also be prohibited at gas stations.
L. 
Downtown Business District.
[Amended 1-27-2003 by Ord. No. 03-9898A]
(1) 
Applicability. The special provisions in this subsection shall be applicable solely to buildings having frontage on: Main Street, between Mechanic Street and Maple Street; Florence Street, between Main Street and Dow Place; Newton Street, between Main Street and Granger Boulevard; Windsor Street; Weed Street; Court Street. This section of the City has unique conditions, with most buildings located at the sidewalk edge.
(2) 
General regulations. All provisions in other sections of this chapter applicable to nonresidence districts shall also be applicable in the Downtown Business District.
(3) 
Special regulations. Within the Downtown Business District, the following special regulations shall apply:
(a) 
Size of signs.
[1] 
Flat wall signs. The maximum area of flat wall signs for the main facade shall be 50 square feet. The maximum area of signs for the second facade shall be 50 square feet. The maximum area for a sign on the third facade shall be 10 feet.
[2] 
Freestanding signs. The maximum height of freestanding signs shall be 15 feet. The maximum area of freestanding signs shall be 50 square feet; bonuses and message boards are not allowed.
(b) 
Number of signs.
[1] 
Flat wall signs. The number of flat wall signs shall be one per facade.
[2] 
Freestanding signs. The number of freestanding signs shall be one per structure.
(c) 
Lighting.
[1] 
Interior illuminated signs. Interior illuminated signs are not allowed either on the exterior of the facade, on freestanding signs, or in the interior of windows.
[2] 
Backlit awnings. Backlit awnings are not allowed.
(d) 
Window signs.
[1] 
Permanent signs on windows cannot exceed 30% of the window area on the main floor and 40% of the window area on windows above the main floor.
[2] 
Permanent signs on doors cannot exceed four square feet per establishment.
[3] 
Temporary signs on windows cannot exceed 30% of the window area, inclusive of permanent signs.
(e) 
Design Review Board.
[1] 
Applications for all signs within the Downtown Business District shall be subject to the review and approval of the Marlborough Design Review Board.
[2] 
The Marlborough Historic Districts Commission shall serve as the Marlborough Design Review Board.
[3] 
The Marlborough Design Review Board shall adopt reasonable regulations for the review of sign applications for the Downtown Business District.
[4] 
The term of the Design Review Board shall continue until such time as the Marlborough Historic Districts Commission is abolished.
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this section shall be to allow businesses to use exterior signs to advertise occasional promotions, events, activities or celebrations which last for a temporary period of time. Such events shall include but not be limited to the following: the grand opening of a business, sale of merchandise, or special promotion activity.
B. 
Applicability.
(1) 
On-premises activity. Temporary promotional signs must be associated with an activity conducted on the same lot. For off-premises signs, refer to § 526-6D.
(2) 
Temporary activity. Temporary signs are signs that indicate occasional events. They shall be removed upon the conclusion of the event, unless a different removal time limit is specified for a particular sign. Temporary signs shall not be used by a particular business so frequently, in the opinion of the Building Commissioner, that they can be considered to be in a permanent sign category.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(3) 
Use and zoning districts. Temporary promotional signs shall be restricted to use by those business establishments defined in the paragraph below which are located in nonresidential zoning districts and to legally nonconforming business establishments located in residential districts.
(a) 
Business uses. Retail businesses, services, restaurants and hotels, but not manufacturing, wholesale or other industrial-type businesses. Temporary promotional signs may be used to advertise the sale or rental of commercial real estate, provided the sign is located on the same lot.
(b) 
Residential uses; refer to § 526-8. Temporary promotional signs shall not be permitted for home occupations (as defined by Chapter 650, Zoning) within residential districts.
C. 
Size of temporary promotional signs. Except as otherwise provided below, the areas provided for temporary promotional signs in this section shall be in addition to the sign areas allowed by § 526-9.
D. 
Types of temporary promotional signs. A business establishment shall have the option of using several types of temporary promotional signs, as described below. These options have been selected with the intention of allowing only those types of temporary promotional signs which will serve the purpose intended, without causing a cluttered and unsightly appearance to public streets. Accordingly, additional freestanding signs or portable signs placed on or in the ground near the street (such as sandwich board signs or A-frame signs or similar) shall not be allowed. Such signs, if used in excess, would be counterproductive to commercial advertising, make it more difficult to see traffic safety and directional signs, and reduce property values. The allowable types of temporary promotional signs shall be limited to the following:
(1) 
Open-for-business signs.
(a) 
"Open" signs on the exterior. One sign per business, specifying "open," hung on the exterior of the facade, provided the sign is no larger than two square feet in area.
(b) 
"Open" signs on the interior. Any number of signs, provided their combined area meets the requirements for window signs specified in Subsection D(3) below.
(c) 
"Open" flags. One flag of any design intended to signify that the establishment is open for business, provided the flag is no larger than six square feet in area, is hung from a pole attached to and projecting from the side of the building facade, is located within six feet of the entry door leading solely to that business, but not above the roof, and is removed at the close of business.
(d) 
Permit and fee: none required.
(2) 
Promotional flags and similar devices.
(a) 
Flag on conventional flagpole permanently installed on site.
[1] 
Number. One promotional flag for each freestanding sign allowed on a lot by § 526-9C. (Any number of national or governmental flags may be displayed on any premises. Any number of promotional flags of any design may be displayed on a lot, provided however the display is not visible from any public street or from any other lot.)
[2] 
Area. The maximum area of the flag shall be 30 square feet.
[3] 
Height. The flag shall be hung from a pole not more than 20 feet high.
[4] 
Location. The flagpole must be located within a landscaped and planted area no smaller than 100 square feet. The pole shall be at least five feet from the lot line and from any driveway and at least 50 feet from the nearest freestanding sign serving the same lot.
[5] 
Permit and fee: none required.
(b) 
Flags on cars which are for sale.
[1] 
Flags on car antennas. One U.S. flag no larger than one square foot in area and two feet in height may be attached to the antenna of each car which is currently for-sale and located on the premises of a properly licensed dealer. No wind-operated moving devices or balloons shall be used in addition to or in place of the flag or pennant authorized herein, nor shall any string of pennants be displayed.
[2] 
Sign on car windows. Any message may be displayed flat over a window of a car for sale, provided the message is painted, sprayed or otherwise affixed evenly flat over the surface of the glass, inside or outside. The sign may cover 100% of the window. Portable signs shall not be placed on the cars.
(c) 
Pennants, balloons and similar devices. Pennants, balloons and similar devices may be used solely for temporary holiday decorations customarily associated with any national, local or religious holiday, and not for advertising purposes or to attract attention to a business.
(3) 
Window signs.
(a) 
Use. A window sign, defined as a sign placed inside a window or transparent door of a building so as to be viewed from the exterior, may be used either for permanent signage (such as the name of the establishment) or for advertising temporary events or promotions.
(b) 
Number. Any number of window signs are allowed.
(c) 
Area. The total area of all window signs shall cover no more than 75% of the window or transparent door on which they are placed. (Signs in a car window may cover 100% of the window.)
(d) 
Illumination. Window signs may be illuminated, provided they are not in violation of the provisions in § 526-7, Prohibited signs, where flashing or moving lights are prohibited.
(e) 
Permit and fee: none required.
(4) 
Message board signs.
(a) 
Use of message boards. Temporary promotions may be advertised on message boards which allow for changing the individual lettering on the sign, either mechanically or electronically. Message boards are intended to provide a business which constantly needs to change its advertising or pricing with the means necessary. An example is the changeable price panel on a gas station sign. The use of changeable message boards shall be restricted to advertising special or temporary offers or events, except that public service messages may be allowed. A message board shall not be used to increase the area of permanent signage, as allowed by § 526-9, which is intended for the name of the business.
(b) 
Location and number of message boards. Message boards may be used, provided they are installed as an integral part of either the permanent freestanding sign allowed by § 526-9C or the changeable wall panel sign allowed by § 526-10D(5). No other separate or portable message board of any kind shall be permitted.
(c) 
Area of message boards.
[1] 
Base area. The area of message boards shall be included within the total allowable sign area provided for either freestanding signs in § 526-9C(2) or changeable wall panel signs in § 526-10D(5).
[2] 
Bonus area. As an incentive to encourage integration of message boards into other signs as noted above, a bonus area shall be provided as follows:
[a] 
Freestanding signs: refer to § 526-9C(2).
[b] 
Changeable wall panel sign: a bonus of 33% of any one panel permitted on a building by § 526-10D(5).
(d) 
Frequency of changes to lettering. The individual letters or numbers on a message board may not be changed more than once an hour. In addition, the message board shall be in compliance with § 526-7 of this chapter, Prohibited signs, which prohibits flashing or moving lights.
(e) 
Maintenance of message boards. Since message boards may have many individual replaceable parts, they are subject to more frequent damage or loss of parts (including letter and numbers). All message boards shall be kept in good repair or may be ordered removed.
(f) 
Permit and fee.
[1] 
Permit. A permit is required only for the initial installation of the message board.
[2] 
Fee: refer to § 526-3C.
(5) 
Changeable wall panel signs.
(a) 
Use of wall panels. A changeable wall panel sign is intended to provide a business with the option of using framed advertising panels on the building facade, such that the panel inserts can be replaced or altered within the frame at any time. A typical example is the small poster or bulletin board near the entrance to a movie theater. The use of changeable wall panels shall be restricted to advertising special or temporary offers or events. Changeable wall panels shall not be used to increase the area of permanent flat wall signage, as allowed by § 526-9B, which is intended for the name of the establishment.
(b) 
Number of wall panels.
[1] 
Each business establishment shall be allowed one changeable wall panel for each 50 linear feet or part thereof of facade of the establishment located on the first floor of the building but no more than two panels in total.
[2] 
Distribution. If more than one changeable wall panel sign is allowed for any one business by the provisions of the paragraph above, then the panels must be kept distinct and shall not be combined into a larger panel.
(c) 
Area and shape of changeable wall panel.
[1] 
Area. A changeable wall panel shall be not more than 10 square feet in area.
[2] 
Shape. A changeable wall panel shall be rectangular, and one side shall be no more than twice the length of the other side.
(d) 
Location of changeable wall panel.
[1] 
Location on wall. A changeable wall panel sign must be attached so that it lies flat against (parallel to) an exterior wall enclosing a business establishment and shall not be attached to a fence, pole or any other structure. The sign shall not conceal any part of a window or door (other than a window or door not in regular use); it shall not project beyond or above the top or sides of the wall to which it is attached nor more than three inches from the face of the wall; and it shall be located on the wall of the first floor and at least three feet away from and below any flat wall sign mounted on the same wall.
[2] 
Location on same business establishment. The changeable wall panel for any business must be located on a wall enclosing the same establishment, except as provided Subsection D(4)(d)[3] below.
[3] 
Location on end wall of another business. If a business establishment is a tenant located within a building containing several other businesses, and the facade of the particular business establishment is not visible from the street, then the changeable wall panel for the business which is not visible from the street may be located over the facade or exterior (end) wall of a business in the same building which is visible from the street, provided the following additional restrictions are met:
[a] 
Number. No more than one changeable wall panel for any business establishment shall be displayed on the wall of another establishment. In addition, there shall be no more than two panels on any wall: one panel for the business enclosed by the wall, and the other panel for all other businesses in the same building.
[b] 
Use. The use of such a changeable wall panel shall be restricted to those businesses located within the same building. If there are several business establishments in the same building, then the landlord must determine which business can make use of the one changeable panel sign, and for how long, such that the panel is shared by all businesses.
[c] 
Owner's permission. The landlord or property owner shall approve the placement of the changeable wall panel being displayed in this manner. Such approval shall be in writing on the permit application.
(e) 
Sign structure.
[1] 
Frame. The sign shall have a rigid rectangular frame fixed permanently to the wall, within which panels can be inserted.
[2] 
Panels. The panel inserts shall be rigid and shall not be banners or similar.
(f) 
Illumination. The sign may be internally illuminated but shall not flutter or flash.
(g) 
Time periods. No restriction, except for use: see Subsection D(5)(a) above.
(h) 
Permit and fee.
[1] 
Permit. A sign permit shall be required for the initial installation of the frame for the changeable wall panel sign, but thereafter the panels or advertising messages within the frame can be changed or altered at any time without permit or fee.
[2] 
Fee: refer to § 526-3C.
(6) 
Temporary wall banners.
(a) 
Use of banners. A temporary wall banner is intended to provide a business with the option of using a relatively large banner, as described below, when a smaller wall panel allowed under Subsection D(5) above is not suitable for a special promotion. The use of temporary wall banners shall be restricted to advertising special or temporary offers or events. Temporary wall banners shall not be used to increase the area of permanent flat wall signage, as allowed by § 526-9B, which is intended for the name of the establishment.
(b) 
Number of wall banners. The maximum number of temporary wall banners displayed at any one time, for any one business establishment, shall be as described below.
[1] 
Select option. No wall banner may be used if a banner on the freestanding sign is used instead. Refer to Subsection D(7) below for regulations pertaining to banners on freestanding signs.
[2] 
Nonresidential lot with single frontage. For buildings on a lot having frontage on only one public street: one wall banner.
[3] 
Nonresidential lot with multiple frontage. For buildings on a lot having frontage on more than one public street: one wall banner facing each street, provided the aggregate area of all temporary wall banners shall not exceed the area allowed under Subsection D(6)(c) below.
(c) 
Area of wall banners. The following sign area shall be allowed per individual business establishment for temporary wall banners:
[1] 
Basic area of wall banners. One square foot for each horizontal linear foot of the facade of the establishment, up to a maximum of 50 square feet, except for the bonus area provided for in Subsection D(6)(c)[2] and [3] below.
[2] 
Bonus area for wall banners on buildings with multiple frontage. If the building has frontage on more than one public street or public entrances on more than one facade, then an additional area for temporary wall banners shall be allowed equal to 1/2 square foot for each linear foot of such additional building frontage, with the following restrictions:
[a] 
The additional banner area shall appear solely on that side of the building which gives rise to the multiple frontage.
[b] 
The additional banner area shall be used exclusively for the business establishment having its facade or wall along that frontage.
[c] 
In no case shall more than two facades be counted on any one building for the purpose of calculating total allowable banner area on all facades, which shall not exceed 100 square feet per establishment.
[3] 
Bonus area for banners on buildings having large size or setback. If a single business establishment has over 20,000 square feet on one floor of one building, the area of temporary wall banner signs for that establishment may be increased by an additional 10 square feet for each 100 feet of the facade and for each 100 feet that the establishment is set back from the public street, provided that:
[a] 
The total area of temporary wall banner signs shall not exceed 150 square feet for a single business establishment.
[b] 
The bonus area shall not be used on any banner located on a wall not belonging to the business served by the banner, as provided for under Subsection D(6)(d)[2] below.
(d) 
Location of wall banners.
[1] 
Location on wall. A wall banner must be attached so that it lies flat against (parallel to) the face of an exterior wall enclosing a business establishment, and shall not be attached to a fence, pole or any other structure except as provided by Subsection D(7) below. The banner shall not project beyond or above the top or sides of the wall to which it is attached and shall not extend more than 20 feet from the ground to the top of the banner. The banner may be placed over a window, or over a door which is not in regular use and which is not required for emergency exit, or within the opening of a door as described above, or between columns which are an integral part of the building, such as on an arcade or portal.
[2] 
Location on same business establishment. The banner for any business must be located on a wall enclosing the same establishment, except as provided in Subsection D(6)(d)[3] below.
[3] 
Location on end wall of another business. If a business establishment is a tenant located within a building containing several other businesses, and the facade of the particular business establishment is not visible from the street, then the banner for the business which is not visible from the street may be located over the facade or exterior (end) wall of a business in the same building which is visible from the street, provided the following additional restrictions are met:
[a] 
Number. No more than one banner shall be displayed at any one time on any wall.
[b] 
Use. The display of a banner on the wall of another business establishment shall be restricted to those businesses located within the same building. If there are several business establishments in the same building, then the landlord must determine which business can display the one banner allowed and for how long, with no more display time per business than allowed by Subsection D(6)(g) below.
[c] 
Owner's permission. The landlord or property owner shall approve the banner being displayed in this manner. Such approval shall be in writing on the permit application.
[d] 
Area. The area of a banner for any business displayed on the wall of another business shall be limited to the basic area allowed under Subsection D(6)(c)[1] above, but with no bonus area described in Subsection D(6)(c)[2] and [3] above.
[4] 
Location of banners on freestanding signs. Special restrictions apply: refer to Subsection D(7) below.
(e) 
Construction of banners.
[1] 
Materials. It is the intention of this section that temporary wall banners shall be easily distinguishable from permanent signs and from changeable wall panels. Accordingly, temporary wall banners must be constructed of flexible, lightweight, nonframed materials.
[2] 
Method of attachment. The banner shall be securely attached at all corners and sides of the banner to the structure behind. A banner shall not hang loose from one side only. The method of attachment to the facade shall require minimal alterations to the facade, such that when the banner has been removed there shall be minimal indication of supports when viewed from the street.
[3] 
Compliance with § 526-4. The banners shall be in compliance with § 526-4 of this chapter governing construction and maintenance.
(f) 
Illumination. The banner shall have no self contained illumination but may be illuminated by light sources in compliance with § 526-7 of this chapter governing prohibited signs.
(g) 
Time periods for display of banners. The time periods governing the display of temporary banners by or for any business establishment shall be as follows:
[1] 
Total display time. The banners used for all events shall be displayed for not more than 90 days in total in any calendar year.
[2] 
Number of events. The banners shall be displayed for no more than three separate promotional events per business per year.
[3] 
Continuity of display. Provided the banners are not displayed for more than the periods of time allowed under Subsection D(6)(g)[1] and [2] above, the business is free to allocate its available display time as it deems fit.
(h) 
Removal of banners after use. The banner shall be removed from public view by those responsible for its erection within 48 hours after the activity advertised has ceased, or after the total allowable time period has ceased, or after substantial damage to the banner, whichever occurs first.
(i) 
Sign permit and fee for banners.
[1] 
Permit. Every banner shall require a sign permit, and every permit issued under this section shall state the starting and ending date for the period within which the temporary promotional banner may be displayed and shall be acknowledged by the applicant.
[2] 
Fee: refer to § 526-3C.
(7) 
Temporary banners on freestanding sign.
(a) 
Use of banners on freestanding signs. A temporary banner on a freestanding sign is intended to provide a business with the option of using a small banner on the freestanding sign, instead of using a large banner on the wall of the building as allowed by Subsection D(6), instead of using a changeable wall panel as allowed by Subsection D(5), and instead of using a message board on the freestanding sign as allowed by Subsection D(4). The same restrictions on use shall apply as in Subsection D(6)(a) applicable to use of wall banners.
(b) 
Number of banners on freestanding signs.
[1] 
Select option. No banner shall be used on a freestanding sign if either a wall banner is in use, or if a message board is mounted on the freestanding sign, or if a changeable panel is mounted below the freestanding sign, because these signs can serve the same purpose.
[2] 
Only one temporary banner may be displayed on any one freestanding sign at any one time. If there are several business establishments in the same building or in the complex of buildings on the same lot, then the landlord must determine which business can display the one banner allowed, with no more display time per business than allowed by Subsection D(7)(g) below. The banner may be used to advertise a temporary promotion, or it may be used as a temporary real estate sign, but not both.
(c) 
Location of banner on freestanding sign. The banner must be attached at all corners either flat against and over the face of the sign or between the two poles supporting a sign. No banner shall be attached below a sign which does not have two supporting poles.
(d) 
Area of banner on freestanding sign.
[1] 
Banner over face of sign. The banner may cover any amount of the existing sign face but may not extend beyond any edges of the sign or frame; or
[2] 
Banner below sign. The banner may be supported below a sign only in cases where the sign has two poles such that a banner can be attached between the poles. If this is the case, then the banner shall be no larger than six square feet or two feet multiplied by the width in feet of the permanent sign frame.
(e) 
Construction of banner. Same as for wall banners: refer to Subsection D(6)(e).
(f) 
Illumination. Same as for wall banners: refer to Subsection D(6)(f).
(g) 
Time periods for display. Same as for wall banners: refer to Subsection D(6)(g).
(h) 
Removal. Same as for wall banners: refer to Subsection D(6)(h).
(i) 
Sign permit and fee. Same as for wall banners: refer to Subsection D(6)(i).
E. 
Seasonal signs.
(1) 
Applicability. Signs for activities occurring only during a certain season of the year shall comply with all provisions of this chapter. The following signs shall be permitted:
(a) 
Signs for Christmas tree sales. One additional freestanding sign of no more than 32 square feet, displayed during the month of December.
(b) 
Agricultural produce. One freestanding sign of up to 32 square feet, located on the premises where the produce is grown, displayed only during the harvest season.
F. 
Signs on vehicles. For the purposes of this Sign Ordinance, a trailer or a vehicle shall be considered and regulated as a sign when such trailer or vehicle is not engaged in the usual business or work of the owner or lessee but is used merely or mainly for advertising purposes.
G. 
Major public special events: refer to § 526-6A.
H. 
Other provisions. Unless provided for specifically otherwise, all provisions of other sections of this chapter shall apply to temporary promotional signs.
Political or campaign signs on behalf of candidates for public office or issues or measure on election ballots are exempt from this chapter, provided that said signs comply with the following regulations:
A. 
A candidate in an election may place a sign or have a sign placed in his/her behalf no earlier than 60 days prior to the first election in which said candidate's name will appear on the ballot. Signs shall be removed within five days following said election. Signs for a candidate in a preliminary or primary election are not required to be removed if said preliminary or primary candidate will also be a candidate in the General Election.
[Amended 10-25-1993 by Ord. No. 93-5228-1A]
B. 
No sign shall be located within or over a public way or a private way to which the public has a right of access.
C. 
No sign shall be larger than 10 square feet.
D. 
No sign shall be erected on any public utility pole, public right-of-way, or public property.
A. 
Enforcement. The Building Commissioner is hereby authorized and directed to enforce all of the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
B. 
Failure to act on permit. If no sign permit has been issued within 30 days after application therefor has been made, it shall be deemed to be denied.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A]
C. 
Rights to appeal.
(1) 
Any applicant for a permit, any person who has been ordered by the Building Commissioner to incur expense in connection with a sign and any person dissatisfied with any refusal, order or decision of the Building Commissioner may appeal to the Planning Board within 30 days from the date of such refusal, order or decision. The fee for the filing of said appeal shall be $25, payable to the City of Marlborough upon the filing of said appeal. After written notice given to such parties as the Planning Board shall order, the Planning Board shall address the appeal at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Applying the standards described in Subsection C(2) below, where applicable, and interpreting this chapter, the Planning Board shall affirm, annul or modify such refusal, order or decision within 45 days after hearing the appeal. The action of the Building Commissioner may be annulled or modified only by a two-thirds vote of the Planning Board. If the action of the Building Commissioner is modified or annulled, the Building Commissioner shall issue a permit or order in accordance with the decision of the Planning Board.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(2) 
Variances. The Planning Board may vary the provisions of this chapter in specific cases which appear to it not to have been contemplated by this chapter, and in cases wherein its enforcement would involve practical difficulties if, in each instance, desirable relief may be granted without substantially derogating from the intent and purpose of this chapter but not otherwise. Any decision to vary the provisions of this chapter shall be by 2/3 majority and shall specify any variance allowed and the reason therefor. Each decision of the Planning Board shall be filed in the office of the City Clerk within 30 days after the decision and a copy of the decision shall be sent by mail or delivered to the appellant and any other person appearing at the hearing and so requesting in writing. Failure to file such a decision within 30 days after the hearing shall not be deemed to be approval of any variance sought. No variances shall be allowed by the Planning Board from the date on which this sentence becomes effective until July 1, 2007.
[Amended 10-30-2006 by Ord. No. 06100-1323A]
(3) 
Conditions and safeguards. The Planning Board shall set forth appropriate conditions and safeguards whenever in its opinion they are desirable.
D. 
Penalties against owners. Any sign owner or owner of property on which a sign is located who violated or permits a violation of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of $50 per day, said fine to be assessed each and every day the violation continues after issuance of a Violation Notice by the Building Commissioner upon the identified violator. All fines shall be payable to the City of Marlborough, through the City Clerk's office. The Building Commissioner may, as an alternative to initiating criminal proceedings, treat violations of this chapter in a noncriminal manner pursuant to the provisions of MGL Ch. 40, Section 21D. In the event that a fine assessed pursuant to this Subsection D remains unpaid by an owner as of the date when the owner and/or the owner’s sign contractor submits any application for a sign permit for or on behalf of the owner, the Building Commissioner or his/her designee may deny said application and may continue to so deny it for so long as said fine remains unpaid.
[Amended 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A; 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
E. 
Penalties against sign contractors. If the Building Commissioner or his/her designee determines that a sign contractor has erected, altered or relocated a sign in violation of § 526-3, then, in addition to the remedies provided for in § 526-12D as against the owner, the Building Commissioner or his/her designee may enforce § 526-3 by assessing against said sign contractor a fine of $50 per day, each day being considered a separate violation. As a noncriminal alternative to this penalty, the Building Commissioner or his/her designee may, pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 21D, treat a sign contractor violation of § 526-3 by assessing against the sign contractor a noncriminal fine of $50 for a first violation, and a noncriminal fine of $50 per day for each additional violation of § 526-3, each day being considered a separate violation.
[Added 2-14-2011 by Ord. No. 10/11-1002763A; amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
[Added 8-25-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005880B]
A. 
Applicability.
(1) 
Notwithstanding any general ordinance or special law to the contrary, the following regulations governing electronic message center (EMC) signs and digital display signs shall be in effect.
(2) 
The regulations in § 526-13 permit digital display signs and electronic message center (EMC) signs in all zoning districts except for Rural Residence (RR) Districts, Residence (A-1) Districts, Residence (A-2) Districts, Residence (A-3) Districts, Residence B (RB) Districts, Residence C (RC) Districts, Retirement Community Residence (RCR) Districts, and the Downtown Business District outlined in § 526-9L, in which districts such signs are strictly prohibited. Digital display signs and EMC signs shall be permitted with the approval of the Building Commissioner, shall be subject to all other provisions governing signs in Chapter 526, the City's Sign Ordinance, and shall require a special permit.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(3) 
The special permit granting authority shall be the City Council. In the event of a conflict between these provisions and other provisions governing signs in Chapter 526, these provisions shall prevail. This § 526-13 shall apply to all exterior digital display signs and all exterior EMC signs, and also to all such signs that are within three feet of the interior of a business window and that are visible from the outside of the business window. It shall not otherwise apply to signs or displays located within a commercial structure.
B. 
Standards. EMC signs and digital display signs shall be allowed by special permit, but only pursuant to the following standards:
(1) 
Sign type. EMC signs shall only be permitted as part of a freestanding sign and shall comply with all of the requirements of § 526-9.
(2) 
Number of signs. There shall only be one EMC sign permitted on each nonresidential-zoned parcel.
(3) 
Display area. No more than 25% of the allowable sign face shall be dedicated to the EMC portion of said sign. The EMC display portion of said sign is not to exceed a maximum of 24 square feet.
(4) 
Design. The EMC area must be integral to the design of the sign and shall not be the dominant element. The EMC portion of the sign face shall not be the uppermost element, but shall instead be located in the bottom 1/2 of the sign face. Digital display signs may be located on freestanding signs and wall signs, but are prohibited on portable, temporary, awning, marquee or canopy, projecting banner, window sign, and suspended signs.
(5) 
Automatic dimming. No digital display sign or EMC sign shall be erected without an automatic light-sensing device, such as a light detector or photocell by which the sign's brightness can be dimmed when ambient light conditions darken.
(6) 
Brightness and color. The digital display sign or EMC sign must not display light of such intensity or brilliance so as to cause glare or otherwise impair the vision of any driver, result in a nuisance to any driver or interfere with traffic signals. From sunrise to sunset, the background or field shall be a single color and the message shall be a single contrasting color. From sunset to sunrise, the background or field shall be a single dark color and the message shall be a single contrasting color. The light intensity for all accessory and nonaccessory EMC signs shall not exceed maximum luminance intensity levels of 350 (cd/m2) nits from sunset to sunrise and 6,000 (cd/m2) nits from sunrise to sunset. A photoelectric sensor shall be installed on the sign structure and set to register the ambient light produced at sunset on any given day. The ambient light level shall determine the cutoff between the two maximum luminance intensity levels, measured in nits, set forth above. Upon installation of the sign, an employee or agent of the Building Department shall confirm compliance with the above nit levels. EMC and digital display signs are subject to inspection at the discretion of the Building Commissioner. All lighting used to illuminate signs shall be installed so that neither direct nor reflected illumination from such lighting shall cause a public nuisance to adjacent lots or abutting streets. In addition to the maximum luminosity intensity levels set forth above, all displays should adjust brightness intensity according to ambient light conditions to ensure optimum legibility.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
(a) 
A one-hundred-hour break-in period for new signs, if absolutely required, shall be allowed under a special permit.
(7) 
Inspections. Luminosity levels shall be inspected as needed by the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer, or an agent of the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer, using standard industry best practices for such measurement.
(8) 
Effects. The EMC message or the digital display shall not grow, melt, X-ray, scroll, write on, travel, inverse, roll, twinkle, snow, rotate, flash, blink, move, spin, wave, rumble or present pictorials or other animation and/or intermittent illumination. Subject to the foregoing restrictions, temperature and time may change as necessary. The message shall be limited to alphanumeric characters, one color per message.
(9) 
Operational limitations. Such displays shall contain static messages only and shall not have movement of any part of the sign structure, design, or pictorial segment of the sign, including the movement or appearance of movement of any illumination or the slashing, scintillating or varying of light intensity.
(a) 
Sequential messages are prohibited. Only complete messages shall be allowed.
(10) 
Minimum display time. Except for time and temperature, each message on the EMC sign must be displayed for a minimum of 60 seconds.
(11) 
Message change sequence. The change of messages on an EMC sign must be accomplished with a maximum interval of no more than 0.3 second of time between messages.
(12) 
Setbacks from residential zoned areas. The sign must be set back a minimum distance of 200 feet from the nearest point of any abutting residentially zoned district. If, because of the shape, size and/or proximity of a commercial lot to a residentially zoned district it is not possible to place the sign more than 200 feet from the nearest point of an abutting residentially zoned district, then the Planning Board may grant a variance for closer placement, provided that when located within 200 feet of a residentially zoned district, all digital display portions of the sign shall be oriented so that no portion of the sign is visible from an existing primary residential structure in that district.
(13) 
Hours of operations. EMC signs which have an undue negative impact on preexisting residential areas may be required to be turned off after posted business hours.
(14) 
Malfunctioning signs. Signs that malfunction shall be turned off immediately.
(15) 
Spacing. Digital display signs and EMC signs shall be at least 100 feet apart. If, because of the shape and size of a commercial lot it is not possible to place a new sign more than 100 feet from an existing EMC sign or digital display sign, then the Planning Board may grant a variance for closer placement. Coordinated messages between or among EMC signs and/or digital display signs are strictly prohibited.
(16) 
Special permit criteria. Criteria for approval by the City Council of a special permit shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) 
All other signage on-site is in compliance with zoning requirements.
(b) 
In addition to other signs on-site, the proposed sign does not create unnecessary visual clutter or constitute signage overload for the lot or surrounding neighborhood or street.
(c) 
The proposed sign does not substantially block visibility of signs on abutting lots.
(d) 
The proposed sign does not substantially block solar access of, or the view from, windows of residential dwellings on abutting lots.
(e) 
The proposed illumination is appropriate to the site and is appropriately located with respect to the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
(f) 
Whether the scale and/or location of a proposed digital display sign or EMC sign is appropriate.
(g) 
Whether the dimensions of the proposed sign exceed the area limitations of this chapter.
C. 
Legally preexisting nonconforming EMC and digital display signs. Legally preexisting nonconforming EMC signs and digital display signs, to the extent they have the technical capability to do so, shall be operated in conformance with the operational standards set forth in this § 526-13. In the absence of a light-sensing device, sign owners shall ensure either that the signs are dimmed to meet brightness standards set forth in § 526-13B(6) above or that the signs are turned off from sunset to sunrise. All legally preexisting nonconforming signs shall be brought into compliance with this amendment upon being significantly updated or replaced, as determined by the Building Commissioner or a designee of the Building Commissioner, or at the end of 10 years from the date of approval of this amendment, whichever is sooner.
[Amended 10-6-2014 by Ord. No. 14-1005921A]
D. 
Governmental exemption. Governmental entities are exempt from the above provisions and regulations.