City of Gardner, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
For the purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
DISPLAY AREA
The total surface area of the sign. The display area of an individual letter sign or irregular-shaped sign shall be the area of the smallest rectangle into which the letters or shape will fit. Where sign faces are placed back to back and face in opposite directions, the display area shall be defined as the area of one face of the design.
ERECTING
Any constructing, relettering, extending, altering or changing of a sign other than repainting, repairing and maintaining.
SIGN and ADVERTISING DEVICE
Any symbol, design or device used to identify or advertise any place of business, product, activity, or person.
The following regulations shall apply in all districts:
A. 
No exterior sign or advertising device shall be erected except as provided by this chapter.
B. 
No sign that requires a sign permit under this chapter shall be erected except in the exact location and manner described in the permit.
C. 
No sign shall be erected that in any way creates a traffic hazard or obscures or confuses traffic control.
D. 
Signs shall not be illuminated between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. unless related to an establishment operating during those hours.
E. 
The illumination from any sign shall be shaded, shielded, directed, and maintained at a sufficiently low intensity and brightness that it shall not affect the safe vision of operators of vehicles moving within the premises or on any adjacent public or private way.
F. 
Any sign that advertises or identifies products, businesses, services or activities that are no longer sold, located, or carried on at the premises shall be removed within 60 days after written notice by the Building Commissioner.
G. 
No sign shall be erected with any part closer than 10 feet to the traveled roadway or side or rear yard lot lines.
No signs that require a sign permit shall hereafter be constructed except in conformity with a sign permit from the Building Commissioner.
A. 
Applicability. All signs shall require a sign permit, except as provided in § 675-950.
B. 
Application.
(1) 
All applications for signs requiring a sign permit shall be obtained from the Building Commissioner and shall include at least:
(a) 
The location, by street number, of the proposed sign;
(b) 
The name and address of the sign owner and the owner of the premises where the sign is to be located, if other than the sign owner;
(c) 
A scale drawing showing the proposed construction, method of installation or support, materials, colors, dimensions, location of sign on the site, and the method of illumination; and
(d) 
Such other pertinent information as the Building Commissioner may require to ensure compliance with this chapter and other applicable law.
(2) 
The application must be signed by the owner and the owner of the premises where the sign is to be located.
(3) 
The Building Commissioner shall have the authority to reject any sign permit application that is not completed when submitted.
C. 
Time limitations. The Building Commissioner shall approve or disapprove any application for a sign permit within 30 days of receipt of the application. If the Building Commissioner should fail to approve or disapprove an application for a sign permit within the thirty-day period, the application shall be deemed to be approved.
D. 
Fees. The City Council shall establish, and from time to time review, a sign permit fee, which shall be published as part of the sign permit application.
A. 
Except as provided in § 675-960, the following are prohibited:
(1) 
All billboards, signs on utility poles, trees, or fences, and all signs not located on the same premises as the advertised activity, business, product, or person.
(2) 
All signs consisting of pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners, revolving beacons or animated skies.
(3) 
Mobile signs. Signs that are placed on a chassis or that are designed to be taken from site to site are not allowed.
(4) 
Portable signs. Signs on sidewalks that swing freely.
B. 
No sign shall flash, rotate, or make noise. No sign shall move or give the illusion of moving, except for indications of time and temperature or barber poles.
C. 
No roof signs shall be erected except those roof signs placed at least one foot below the top of the lower slope of a mansard roof.
The following do not require a sign permit:
A. 
Resident identification sign. For single- and two-family dwellings in any district, one identification sign upon a lot identifying the occupants shall not require a sign permit. In the residential districts, one sign identifying any other use which is conducted on the premises and is permitted in the residential districts. All such signs shall not exceed two square feet of display area and, if lit, shall use indirect white light only.
B. 
Government signs. Signs erected and maintained by the City of Gardner, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the federal government on any land, building, or structure used by such agencies.
C. 
Temporary construction signs. One temporary construction sign for a new project identifying the building, the owner or intended occupant and the contractor, architect and engineers, which shall not be illuminated nor more than 32 square feet of display area. Such signs shall not be erected prior to the issuance of a building permit and shall be removed within seven days of completion of the construction or issuance of the occupancy permit, whichever comes first.
D. 
Fuel pump signs. Fuel pump signs on service station fuel pumps identifying the name or type of fuel and price thereof.
E. 
Window signs. Window signs in commercial or industrial districts shall not require a sign permit, provided that the aggregate display surface of all signs covers no more than 30% of the window or door on which they are placed. Such signs shall not be illuminated other than by lighting fixtures on the building.
F. 
Political signs and posters. Political signs and posters are allowed on private property.
G. 
Real estate signs. Real estate signs are allowed for a period up to 30 days beyond the closing of a sale. Signs shall be no more than three square feet in area in single-family residential districts and 12 square feet in area in multifamily, commercial and industrial districts.
H. 
Product display. Displaying products sold on the premises in commercial or industrial districts shall not require a sign permit; provided, however, that all other promotional and pricing information is centrally located on permitted signs and not affixed to the displayed products. No displayed product shall be located on publicly owned land, sidewalks, parking areas or traveled ways.
I. 
Public service signs. A sign not exceeding two square feet to recognize an entity performing a service at no cost to the public, such as beautification of a public way or public building. Public service signs shall only identify the name of the entity performing the service and shall not advertise, identify or promote any product, person, premises, or activity. No public service sign shall be located more than six feet above ground level if mounted on a wall of a building or more than 3 1/2 feet above the ground if freestanding. Such sign shall be removed within seven days after termination of service.
J. 
Temporary handwritten signs. Signs of this type may not cover more than 20% of window and door areas and are not allowed to remain in place for a period longer than 30 days.
K. 
Standing signs. One standing sign ("sandwich board"), announcement board, or public information sign, not exceeding 12 square feet, shall be allowed for notices and announcements of services and events. Such signs must be located within the required front yard. No standing sign shall be located on publicly owned land, sidewalks, parking areas or traveled ways unless a license or other form of written permission is granted by the City of Gardner and does not impede public access and circulation. Said signs shall be removed daily and not left on public land overnight.
The following signs and advertising devices shall require a no-charge temporary sign permit. The life of this permit shall be 30 days. One reissuance of a temporary sign permit will be allowed at the discretion of the Building Commissioner.
A. 
Public event signs for an event sponsored by an organization and open to the public. Such signs shall be removed within five days after the event.
B. 
Changeable letter signs. A mobile sign, with or without wheels, upon which the letters and/or lighting can be changed. These shall be allowed only to announce the opening of an event, establishment, or promotional activity.
C. 
Pennants, banners, balloons, flags, and searchlights. Such advertising devices shall be allowed only to announce the opening of an event, establishment, or promotional activity.
Any principal use permitted in the commercial or industrial districts may erect a sign or signs subject to the following:
A. 
Wall sign or individual letter sign. A wall sign or individual letter sign shall not exceed four feet in height. A wall sign or individual letter sign on the exterior wall of the first floor of a building shall not exceed in area two square feet for each linear foot of the wall or 80 square feet, whichever is less. The length of signs of establishments occupying other than the first floor of a building shall not exceed six feet. No portion of a wall sign or individual letter sign shall project more than one foot from the face of the wall or above the wall of any building. In no case shall a sign project above a parapet wall. An establishment may divide the entire display area permitted herein into separate wall signs or individual letter signs, provided that the maximum height of each separate sign does not exceed the maximum height permitted herein and the sum of the aggregate width and area of each separate sign does not exceed the maximum permitted herein.
B. 
Secondary signs. If an establishment has a direct entrance into the establishment in a wall other than the front wall, there may be a secondary sign affixed to such wall, and if an establishment has a wall, other than the front wall, that faces upon a street or parking area, there may be a secondary sign affixed to such a wall; provided, however, that no establishment shall have more than two secondary signs in any event. This display area of all secondary signs shall not exceed one square foot for each linear foot of the walls or 40 square feet, whichever is less.
C. 
Directory signs. One exterior directory sign listing the name and location of the occupants of the premises may be erected on the exterior wall or pole of a building at each entrance or other appropriate location, provided that the display area shall not exceed one square foot for each occupant identified on the directory sign.
D. 
Directional signs. Directional signs may be erected near a street, driveway, or parking area if necessary for the safety and direction of vehicular or pedestrian traffic. The display area of each directional sign shall not exceed two square feet, and no directional sign shall be located more than six feet above the ground level if mounted on a wall of a building or more than 3 1/2 feet above the ground if freestanding. Directional signs shall not advertise, identify, or promote any product, person, premises, or activity but may identify the street name/number and provide directions.
E. 
Freestanding establishment signs. One freestanding establishment sign which identifies only the name of an establishment center or an establishment may be erected on a lot. The display area of a freestanding establishment sign shall not exceed 50 square feet and the height shall not exceed 15 feet, with a maximum seven feet six inches' clearance above the grade.
F. 
Awning signs. Awning signs are permitted, if sign lettering does not occupy more than 30% of the awning area. Awnings must be placed at a minimum of seven feet six inches from the surface of the sidewalk.
G. 
Perpendicular signs. One projecting, or perpendicular, sign may be erected within five feet of the establishment's entrance and must be erected no less than 10 feet from the ground level, at the base of the building above a sidewalk to the bottom of the sign, so long as public safety is not endangered, and no more than 20 feet from the ground level to the top of the sign. Such sign shall not extend above the building, nor be more than eight square feet in area and, when combined with any existing alternative signage, shall not exceed a total of 80 square feet. All perpendicular signs must be externally lit from the top and shine downward.
Signs erected in duly authorized historic districts and signs erected on sites listed on the National Historic Register or the State Register of Historic Places shall comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Signs shall be designed to complement the historic character of the district or site. No sign shall obscure contributing architectural features of historic structures, including but not limited to cornices, lintels, transoms, windows, and doors.
B. 
Wall sign or individual letter sign. A wall sign or individual letter sign shall not exceed four feet in height. A wall sign or individual letter sign on the exterior wall of the first floor of a building shall not exceed in area one square foot for each linear foot of the wall or 40 square feet, whichever is less. The length of signs of establishments occupying other than the first floor of a building shall not exceed six feet. No portion of a wall sign or individual letter sign shall project more than one foot from the face of the wall or above the wall of any building. In no case shall a sign project above a parapet wall. An establishment may divide the entire display area permitted herein into separate wall signs or individual letter signs, provided that the maximum height of each separate sign does not exceed the maximum height permitted herein and the sum of the aggregate width and area of each separate sign does not exceed the maximum permitted herein.
C. 
Secondary signs. If an establishment has a direct entrance into the establishment in a wall other than the front wall, there may be a secondary sign affixed to such wall, and if an establishment has a wall, other than the front wall, that faces upon a street or parking area, there may be a secondary sign affixed to such a wall; provided, however, that no establishment shall have more than two secondary signs in any event. The display area of all secondary signs shall not exceed one square foot for each two linear feet of walls or 30 square feet, whichever is less.
D. 
Awnings. Awning signs are permitted, if sign lettering does not occupy more than 20% of the awning area. Awnings must be placed a minimum seven feet six inches from the surface of the sidewalk.
E. 
Commodity/trademark signs. Such signs are prohibited in historic districts and on historic structures.
F. 
Freestanding establishment sign. One freestanding establishment sign which identifies only the name of an establishment center or an establishment may be erected on a lot, provided that no other sign(s) permitted under this chapter other than directory or directional signs shall be on the same lot. The display area of a freestanding establishment sign shall not exceed 20 square feet and the height shall not exceed six feet six inches, with a maximum three feet six inches' clearance above the grade.
G. 
Perpendicular signs. One projecting, or perpendicular, sign may be erected within five feet of the establishment's entrance and must be erected no less than 10 feet from the ground level at the base of the building above a sidewalk to the bottom of the sign, so long as public safety is not endangered, and no more than 20 feet from the ground level to the top of the sign. Such sign shall not extend above the building, nor be more than eight square feet in area and, when combined with any existing alternative signage, shall not exceed a total of 40 square feet. All perpendicular signs must be externally lit from the top and shine downward.
A. 
Continuance. A nonconforming sign, lawfully existing at the time of adoption of or subsequent amendment to this chapter, may continue its nonconforming use although such sign does not conform to the provisions of this article; provided, however, that if such nonconforming sign is expanded, extended, enlarged or relocated in any manner, it must then conform to the provisions of this article, provided further that the exemption provided in this section shall terminate in the event that such nonconforming sign:
(1) 
Shall not have been refaced by a new or subsequent establishment occupying the premises for a period of one year; or
(2) 
Shall not have been repaired or made safe within the time frame of a written notice to that effect from the Building Commissioner.
B. 
Maintenance. Any lawfully existing sign may be maintained, repaired, or repainted. No lawfully existing sign shall be expanded, extended, or enlarged in dimension or use unless it conforms to the provisions of this article or the owner of such sign has obtained a lawful variance therefrom.
C. 
Replacement. The face of any legally existing nonconforming sign, pursuant to the exemption provided by Subsection A of this section, may be replaced with a new face; provided, however, that such replacement shall not expand, extend or enlarge the dimensions of use of such sign or change the location of the existing nonconforming sign. Any sign that replaces a nonconforming sign not exempted by Subsection A of this section shall conform to the provisions of this article, and such nonconforming sign shall not be displayed on the premises. If a legally existing nonconforming sign exempted under Subsection A of this section is destroyed by vandalism or other reason beyond the control of the owner or subsequent owner, it may be replaced with a sign of the same dimensions and use or restored to its original condition within one year.