Borough of Chester, NJ
Morris County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 163-88 Scope.

A. 
In all zoning districts of the Borough, signs may be erected, altered, maintained, used, removed or moved only in compliance with the provisions of this article.
B. 
All previous ordinances respecting to signs are hereby repealed, except for fees.

§ 163-89 Permitted signs.

A. 
Residential districts. The following signs shall be permitted in residential districts of the Borough, subject to general regulations applicable to all signs.
(1) 
Official signs. Any sign erected, constructed or maintained by the federal, state, county or local governments or any agency thereof, for the purpose of informing or guiding the public or for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare.
(2) 
Home office or occupation signs. An attached sign not to exceed 10 inches high by 24 inches wide describing a permitted home occupation. Only one such sign is permitted.
(3) 
Residential name sign. A sign not exceeding one square foot in area or name and address sign not exceeding two square feet in area. Either sign must be located within property lines and may be attached or freestanding. Only one such sign is permitted.
(4) 
Permanent development sign. A sign containing the name of the subdivision only shall be permitted in major subdivisions only. The permanent sign shall be constructed of nondecomposing material such that the sign shall be permanent and require little maintenance. The permanent development sign shall be of a size not to exceed 16 square feet, rectangle in shape at a height not to exceed five feet.
(5) 
Temporary development sign. During construction a temporary development sign is permitted in accordance with § 163-90, Temporary signs, of this article.
(6) 
Warning signs on private property. A sign indicating "no trespassing," "no fishing and/or no hunting" and warning signs such as "beware of dog," "alarm system" or of an existing danger where a warning is legally required. Warning signs may not exceed one square foot.
(7) 
Temporary real estate or political signs. A sign more fully described in § 163-90, Temporary signs, of this article.
(8) 
Historical signs. A sign or structure of historic significance for historic informational purposes, upon which the name of the original or historic inhabitant or builder and the date of construction of said structure is set forth and/or the historical significance of the structure, provided that said sign shall not exceed two square feet.
(9) 
Church signs. One ecclesiastical, changeable letter freestanding sign which may be illuminated, not over 15 square feet in area on either side and not exceeding eight feet in height, referring to services and events to be held on the premises, provided that such sign is erected or displayed not less than five feet inside the property line and road right-of-way.
(10) 
Golf course, cemetery, hospital, philanthropic or eleemosynary organization and nursing home sign. One identification freestanding sign which may be illuminated used in the residential zones in which they are permitted. Such signs shall not exceed 15 square feet in area on either side nor a height of eight feet, displayed not less than five feet inside the property line and road right-of-way.
(11) 
Freestanding traffic control sign. A sign which provides traffic directions only. The sign shall be no more than six feet above the finished grade at the base of the sign.
(a) 
If the sign is on a public road, the size, color and design of such shall conform to the latest manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
(12) 
Memorial sign or tablet. A sign indicating the name of the building or the date of its erection which is cut into the masonry surface or constructed of bronze or other incombustible material. Such signs are not to exceed two square feet.
B. 
Nonresidential districts. The following signs shall be permitted in nonresidential districts of the Borough subject to general regulations applicable to all signs.
(1) 
Functional signs. A sign providing public service information, such as rest room or telephone signs. Such sign shall not exceed two square feet and shall not identify the name of the store or type of use of the store.
(2) 
Attached signs. A sign descriptive of the business conducted on the property. One sign is permitted per business. The sign may not exceed 15 square feet; provided, however, that the total sign area shall not exceed 10% of the area of the face of the building to which it is attached. Perpendicular signs are permitted in the B-1 Zone only. Such signs must be affixed to the building and may not exceed six square feet on a side. If the perpendicular sign is attached to the ceiling of a walkway, it must be at least eight feet above the walkway at its bottom and must not exceed two square feet in area on a side. The perpendicular sign may not extend from the side of the building more than four feet at its furthest point.
[Amended 12-20-1999 by Ord. No. 99-11]
(3) 
Freestanding signs. A sign which is not attached to a building. Freestanding signs are permitted in the LBT Zone only for business uses allowed in such zone and not in conjunction with office and residential uses and only on properties where the building is set back at least 50 feet from the front yard property line and road right-of-way subject to the following requirements:
(a) 
The sign must be located in front of the building to which the advertising applies;
(b) 
Each building may have only one sign;
(c) 
The sign must be located at least 10 feet from the front yard property line and road right-of-way;
(d) 
No sign shall be permitted on a sidewalk or within three feet of a sidewalk;
(e) 
The sign, its braces, supports, lighting and other parts may not exceed five feet in height;
(f) 
The sign may be illuminated but only by way of lights located outside the sign;
(g) 
The total surface area of either side of the sign may not exceed 15 square feet;
(h) 
No part of the sign shall be permitted to protrude more than one foot from either side of the surface on the sign; and
(i) 
The color of the sign and its parts must not be cause of undue attraction.
(4) 
A building which contains two or more business establishments. Each business establishment shall be entitled to display a sign identifying its business, provided that such sign shall not exceed six square feet in total. In addition, a multitenant building may display a building directory sign identifying each of the businesses in the building, provided that the directory sign may not exceed one square foot per tenant with the area of such a directory sign not to exceed 20 square feet.
[Amended 12-20-1999 by Ord. No. 99-11]
(5) 
Single tenant building with multiple customer entrances. A building which houses a single tenant which contains more than one egress and ingress for customers, such means of egress and ingress being on different sides of the building. In addition to the signage otherwise permitted, the tenant shall be entitled to erect one additional sign for purposes of identifying another means of entering the building. Such sign shall not exceed two square feet.
(6) 
Multitenant buildings with multiple customer entrances. A building which contains two or more business establishments which each contains more than one egress and ingress for customers, such means of egress and ingress being on different sides of the building. In addition to the signage otherwise permitted, each tenant shall be entitled to erect one additional sign for purpose of identifying another means of entering the building. Such sign shall not exceed two square feet and shall be located within close proximity to that additional entrance.

§ 163-90 Temporary signs.

The following temporary signs shall be permitted in all districts of the Borough subject to general regulations applicable to all signs.
A. 
Election, special election and referendum signs. Such signs may be erected not more than three weeks prior to an election. Election signs shall be removed within 48 hours after the completion of the event. Signs shall not exceed six square feet on a side.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
B. 
Land development signs. Signs advertising the sale of property or structures in developments of two or more lots and signs advertising the opening or construction of a new business shall be permitted for a period up to three months, or until the signing of the contract or transaction of sale or lease of the last lot or structure in the development. Signs shall not exceed six square feet on a side.
C. 
"For Sale" and "For Rent" signs. One temporary sign is permitted per lot for a lot not exceeding two acres. The sign may contain the word "owner" and the telephone number, or alternatively, it may identify by name and telephone number the New Jersey licensed real estate broker, if any, given the right to sell or lease property and/or the word "broker." The following additional criteria shall apply:
(1) 
If relating to a residential lot or building, the sign shall not exceed four square feet in area on any one side. If relating to a lot or building, the sign shall not exceed two square feet for each foot of front wall width or six square feet, whichever is less, except as otherwise provided in Subsection G, below.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
(2) 
The sign shall be removed from the premise within two days after closing of sale or signing of lease for the premises.
(3) 
"Open House" signs are permitted for a forty-eight-hour period immediately preceding the open house and must be removed within 24 hours from their original posting. Such signs are not to exceed six square feet in size; one may be located on site, and up to three may be located off site. No more than four such signs may be posted in total.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
D. 
Banners on Main Street. Such banners are considered temporary signs. Banners are subject to the general regulations regarding temporary signs as well as the following additional regulations:
[Added 10-5-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-29]
(1) 
Only nonprofit organizations that benefit the Chesters may apply for a permit to erect these banners.
(2) 
No more than two banners shall be allowed on Main Street at any one time. No banner shall be attached to any utility pole having a streetlight.
(3) 
Banners shall not be placed earlier than two weeks before the event which they announce and shall be removed within five days after the event has occurred.
(4) 
The dimensions shall not exceed four feet by 30 feet.
(5) 
A banner shall be removed immediately upon notice to the permit holder from the Chief of Police that it has created a traffic or other hazard.
(6) 
The organization applying for a banner permit shall obtain the written consent to the placement of the banner from:
(a) 
The Morris County Board of Freeholders;
(b) 
Any utility or private owners included in suspending the banner; and
(c) 
Borough Zoning Officer or, in his absence, the Police Chief.
(7) 
A certificate of insurance shall also be filed with the Borough Clerk naming the Borough as an additional insured party.
(8) 
There shall be no fee for a permit to erect the banner. The application for such a permit shall be made to the Borough Clerk giving substantially the same information as required for other sign permits. The Borough Clerk shall grant the permit if the above conditions, in addition to the regulations for other temporary signs, are found to be satisfied.
E. 
Nonprofit organizations.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
(1) 
Nonprofit organizations may display no more than one sign per event on site no earlier than two weeks before an event and must be removed within 24 hours after the event has occurred. A permit must be obtained from the Borough Zoning Officer, and all fees may be waived. Such sign shall not exceed 15 square feet.
(2) 
Nonprofit organizations may additionally utilize up to four temporary lawn signs on other property no earlier than one week before an event, and must remove the same within 24 hours after the event has occurred. A permit must be obtained from the Borough Zoning Officer and all fees may be waived. Such sign shall not exceed six square feet.
F. 
Window signs. Establishments in business districts shall be permitted temporary signs displayed in windows for the advertising of community events and for advertising and promotion of special services and goods available on the premises. Such signs shall not be placed on doors and may only be located on the interior of the windows. The total sign coverage cannot exceed 30% of the business's interior window. Such temporary signs shall be permitted for no more than 30 days in duration.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
G. 
"For Sale" or "Lease" signs for a commercial or industrial site of over two acres. Such signs shall be permitted, provided that they shall not exceed a total of 15 square feet in size and there shall not be more than one sign on each street frontage of any parcel of land.
H. 
Temporary signs identifying architect, builders, realtors and contractors of premises. Only one sign per project is permitted for a period not exceeding the time required for such construction to be completed and such shall be removed within 48 hours after the work is completed. Such sign shall not exceed six square feet.

§ 163-91 Prohibited signs.

The following signs shall be prohibited in all zoning districts of the Borough:
A. 
Signs painted on exterior walls of any structure.
B. 
Signs higher than 30 feet.
C. 
Signs which impede, interfere with or distract from the operation of any traffic control device.
D. 
With lights; exceptions.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
(1) 
Signs which include any flashing, blinking of series lights or any rotating or moving parts, or neon sign or signs containing reflective enhancing materials. Exceptions are limited to traffic control and seasonal decoration for the months of November through January.
(2) 
Interior use of lit signs or lights within 15 feet from the exterior windows and doors. Exceptions are limited to traffic control and seasonal decoration for the months of November through January.
E. 
Signs erected or used upon the top or roof of any building.
F. 
Signs which extend in height or project higher than the roofline of any building.
G. 
Signs with more than two display faces are prohibited.
H. 
A double face sign having an included angle of over 45° is prohibited.
I. 
Signs mounted, erected or maintained on a utility pole, trees in public right-of-way or on municipal property except as otherwise specifically authorized [except trespass signs described in § 163-89A(6)], water tower, standpipe, tower or other similar structure.
J. 
Pylon signs exceeding 15 feet.
K. 
Attached signs other than perpendicular signs projecting more than 12 inches from the building wall.
L. 
The use of pennants, streamers, balloons, windmills or other moving devices, banners or flashing signs is prohibited, other than for a period of two weeks from the date of opening of a new establishment. Searchlights and animated signs are prohibited at all times. A business may display one national flag and one other flag, each no larger than five feet by eight feet. All flags must be displayed so that they do not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.
[Amended 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]
M. 
Signs extending more than three inches from the surface of a wall but less than 10 feet from the ground level below the sign.
N. 
Signs, illustrations or symbols shall not be placed so as to interfere with the opening of an exit door of any building, to obstruct any window opening of a room in a dwelling to interfere with the use of any fire escape or to create a hazard to pedestrians.
O. 
Signs erected, painted, affixed, located or maintained on any taxicab or other motor vehicle, except for safety and caution signs and signs to designate the name, address, telephone number, the word "taxi" and a serial number of such taxicab or to advertise or promote the product or services of the owner or lessor of such motor vehicle. In no case may vehicle signs extend above the top of the vehicle or impair its safe operation. Trailers or vehicles whose main use is the display of signs are prohibited.
P. 
Except as otherwise specifically provided for herein, changeable information signs are only permitted in the commercial zones.
Q. 
No sign may impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.
R. 
No window signs or lettering on windows shall be permitted in any residential zone.
[Added 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13]

§ 163-92 Miscellaneous regulations pertaining to all signs.

A. 
Sign illumination. Signs may be illuminated unless otherwise specifically prohibited but shall not be erected, painted or composed of neon, phosphorescent or similar material. Illuminated signs shall have sources of illumination shielded in such a manner so as not to disturb adjoining properties. No sign shall be illuminated by lighting of intermittent or varying intensity, nor shall any illumination be of any color light other than white. Sign brightness shall not exceed the value of 1,250 foot lamberts, as measured by Tektronix digital photometer or similar instrument. The Zoning Official may require a certificate of compliance issued by a qualified person or firm. Illuminated signs may be illuminated one hour before opening and two hours after closing of a building.
B. 
Any signs, except temporary signs, must be installed and of materials to withstand a wind resistance of not less than 30 pounds per square foot.
C. 
On lots fronting on more than one public thoroughfare, signs permitted may be erected fronting on each thoroughfare.
D. 
[1]Signs shall be limited to indicate products, services or occupants of the premises on which they are located.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection D, pertaining to window lettering, was repealed 5-18-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-13; said ordinance also redesignated former Subsection E as Subsection D.

§ 163-93 Materials and design.

A. 
All supports and brackets for signs suspended from or supported upon a building shall be constructed of metal not less than one-fourth-inch thick if not galvanized, and not less than 3/16 of an inch thick if all members, including bolts and rivets are galvanized.
B. 
All such signs shall be securely attached to the building by means of metal anchors, bolts or expansion screws; provided that signs exceeding 50 pounds of weight shall be secured at both top and bottom with metal shelf anchors.
C. 
All signs must be constructed of durable materials and must be kept in good repair.
D. 
Signs located in Historic District of the Borough of Chester must also comply with the following:
[Added 8-3-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-23]
(1) 
Signs shall be made of natural hardwood, metal or high density urethane (HDU). Types of acceptable wood would be oak, maple or ash. Metal signs may be iron, copper, bronze, steel or stainless steel.
(2) 
Signs shall have beveled edges.
(3) 
Letter and characters shall be recessed, raised and/or painted. No flat plastic or vinyl lettering is permitted.

§ 163-94 Alteration.

A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to alter, relocate, reconstruct or cause to be rotated, reconstructed or changed in any manner by wording or otherwise or maintain within the limits of the Borough any sign without first having obtained from the Zoning Officer and having in force and effect a permit to maintain each sign. The above notwithstanding, existing signs, whether or not conforming to existing ordinances, may be removed, refurbished and replaced.
B. 
The interior contents of lawfully permitted signs specifically designed to be changed from time to time, such as church announcement boards, theater marquees, restaurant menus and the like, are excluded from requirements of Subsection A, above.

§ 163-95 Nonconforming use; termination of use.

A. 
All legally existing signs, on the date of the passage of this article, not conforming to the requirements of this article, may be continued on the premises on which they are then located, provided that they are not altered, replaced or enlarged. Any such sign must be maintained in good condition, and in the event that any such sign is partially destroyed by the elements or other causes beyond the control of the owner, the same may be repaired or restored to its original condition.
B. 
At the termination of any professional, business, commercial or industrial use of any premises the permission to display signs associated with such use of the premises shall forthwith terminate and all such signs shall be removed or obliterated from the premises within 90 days from the date of termination of such use.

§ 163-96 Permits.

A. 
Upon compliance with this article, sign permits shall be issued by the Borough Zoning Official after payment of fees set forth in Chapter 127, Fees, and upon completion of an application as prescribed by the Borough Zoning Official.
B. 
It shall be unlawful to erect or maintain a sign within the Borough without first obtaining the above described permit, except that the following signs shall not require an application, sign permit or fee:
(1) 
Official signs described in § 163-89A(1).
(2) 
Home office or occupation signs described in § 163-89A(2).
(3) 
Residential nameplate signs described in § 163-89A(3).
(4) 
Warning signs described in § 163-89A(6).
(5) 
Historical signs described in § 163-89A(8).
(6) 
Freestanding traffic control signs described in § 163-89A(11).
(7) 
Memorial signs described in § 163-89A(12).
(8) 
Temporary signs, except banners, see § 163-90.
C. 
All other signs shall display sign permit number in one-inch numerals in lower right-hand corner. Existing signs must display their permit number within 90 days of the enacting of this section.

§ 163-97 Variances.

In the event that a proposed sign does not comply with the provision of this article, an application for a variance may be made and decided by the Zoning Board of Adjustment,[1] in the same manner as any other variance. Signs constructed under a variance must obtain a permit and permit number after the granting of said variance and before sign installation is begun.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Ordinance No. 2015-6, adopted 5-19-2015, provided that, "Any and all references within this chapter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment shall be constructed to apply to Planning Board."

§ 163-98 Enforcement and penalties.

A. 
Enforcement. The Zoning Official shall enforce the provisions of this article per § 163-77C of this chapter.
B. 
Penalties and violations. In addition to the penalties provided in § 163-77C of this chapter, upon conviction the sentencing court shall also order the removal of the sign or the signs being brought into conformity with the provisions of this article at the owner's sole expense.
C. 
Summary removal. In the event it shall be determined by the Borough Zoning Official that the presence of any sign, by reason of construction, location or lack of maintenance and repair, presents a hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Borough, or temporary signs, if they are determined by the Zoning Official to be contrary to ordinance, said official shall be empowered to immediately remove the sign, and the expenses of said removal shall be borne by the owner of said sign and/or the owner or lessee of the property upon which the sign is located.
D. 
Violative signs. If it is determined that a sign is in violation of this chapter it shall be removed within 24 hours.