Town of Agawam, MA
Hampden County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 9-12-1977; amended 4-1-1991 by TOR-91-1; 12-18-2006 by TOR-2006-11; 11-17-2008 by TOR-2008-4]
[Amended 11-7-2012 by TOR-2012-3]
The purpose of this section is to provide for the reasonable regulation and control of the erection and maintenance of signs and advertising devices within the Town, to the end that the appearance and amenities of the Town may be preserved and enhanced without unduly restricting the conduct of lawful enterprise.
A. 
Enforcement. The Inspector of Buildings or his designee is hereby authorized to enforce this article. The Inspector of Buildings or his designee shall keep a current list of permitted signs as a public record. Annually, prior to April 15, the Inspector of Buildings or his designee shall submit to the Outdoor Advertising Board a list of any billboards which do not meet the specifications of this authority, together with a notation as to wherein each sign does not comply. The Inspector of Buildings or his designee is authorized to order the repair or removal of any sign and its supporting structure which in his judgment is dangerous or in disrepair or which is erected or maintained contrary to this article. Whenever there is a change in the position of Inspector of Buildings, the new person shall send his or her name and address to the Outdoor Advertising Board.
B. 
Permits and fees.
(1) 
Except as provided in § 180-78, no sign shall be erected, altered or affixed to any building or placed on any premises until a permit has been issued by the Inspector of Buildings or his designee. Such permit shall be issued only if the sign complies or will comply with all applicable provisions of this article. An application for a sign permit under this article shall include an accurate sketch or a photograph showing the true dimensions of the face and frame of the sign, the lettering, wording, designs and symbols on the face and as attached to any part of the frame, the location of the sign and such plans, drawings and specifications as the Inspector of Buildings or his designee may require for the structure.
(2) 
A schedule of fees for such permits shall be determined from time to time by the Town Council.
C. 
Whoever violates any provisions of this article or any lawful order of the Inspector of Buildings or his designee shall be subject to enforcement and fines as set forth in §§ 180-15, 180-16 and 180-16.1. Each day that such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. In addition, the Inspector of Buildings or his designee shall have the authority to remove any sign from municipal or public property with 24 hours' advance verbal notice to the owner of the sign. If the owner of the sign cannot be reasonably determined, the Inspector of Buildings or his designee may consider the sign abandoned and may remove the sign forthwith.
A. 
Energy shortages. In the event of any energy shortage, the Council is authorized in its discretion to order that all signs in the Town consuming electric, gas, oil or other forms of energy cease such consumption in whole or in part during such hours and for such period as the Council designates. Nonconformance with the Council's order would be sufficient evidence for the Inspector of Buildings or his designee to revoke the permit for said sign. Forty-eigh hours' notice shall be given to the owner of such sign prior to any action taken by the Inspector of Buildings or his designee.
B. 
Illumination. Except as otherwise prohibited herein, signs may be illuminated by any fixed light source, of such nature and in such manner that the brightness of the sign face does not exceed 100 lumens per square foot. Except for neon-type signs, where permitted, such illumination shall be so arranged that its source is not directly visible from any way or occupied building, and no illumination shall be of any color that might be confusing to traffic. Christmas lights shall not be deemed as coming within the provisions of this subsection, but this subsection shall apply to window signs.
C. 
Placement of signs. The Inspector of Buildings or his designee may impose reasonable stipulations concerning placement based upon the speed of travel and sight distance of the adjacent ways, the number and location of signs already existing in the area and the concept of the sign in relation to the purpose of this article.
In any area zoned as a residence district, the following are authorized by right without a permit:
A. 
One sign displaying the street number and/or name of the occupant of the premises, not exceeding two square feet in area. Such signs may include identification of any accessory professional office or other accessory use permitted in a residence district. Of the signs allowed under Subsections A, D, E and H, the total number of signs per lot shall not exceed two.
B. 
Real estate signs pertaining to the lease, sale or use of a lot or building, provided that such signs do not exceed a total of six square feet of area. Such signs shall be removed forthwith upon sale or rental of the premises advertised.
C. 
One bulletin or announcement board, identification sign or entrance marker for each public entrance to the premises upon which a church, synagogue or educational institution or a governmental authority is located. Such signs shall not exceed 20 square feet in area, provided that there shall be no more than three signs for each church, synagogue or institutional building complex.
D. 
Attached signs. A sign otherwise permitted in this section may be attached to a building if it complies with all requirements of § 180-77 and this section.
E. 
Signs offering accommodations for guests, not to exceed two square feet in area.
F. 
Signs prohibiting trespass, hunting and the like, not to exceed two square feet in area.
G. 
Street name signs and signs erected by the Town, county or state for the direction and control of traffic.
H. 
Window signs. For residential zones and their accessory use, window signs, as defined herein, provided that the aggregate area of such signs shall not exceed two square feet in area. The total of all such signs shall not exceed two square feet for each occupancy or establishment.
I. 
A sign on or adjacent to the entry of a multiple-occupancy building listing the names and/or occupations of the occupants or establishments therein, provided that the size of such sign shall not exceed two square feet in area for each occupancy or establishment.
J. 
Signs designating historical places or points of interest, erected by a governmental authority or by a duly chartered historical association or the like, not to exceed six square feet in area.
In an area zoned as a business or industrial district, each place of business may be issued a permit for a sign or signs as follows:
A. 
Wall signs not to exceed 25% of the area of the front and rear walls and 10% of each secondary side of a building are permitted.
B. 
Standing signs are permitted, subject to the following conditions:
(1) 
Standing signs are not to exceed 25% of the front wall of the principal structure fronting on a street.
(2) 
Standing signs and V-shaped signs on roofs, marquees, cornices, awnings and projections are permitted. Signs mounted upon or part of ventilating equipment, shafts or towers projecting above the roofline of the building are prohibited.
(3) 
Signs located within the setback area shall not be located within 10 feet of grade, without advance written permission of the Inspector of Buildings or his designee, not including instructional signs.
(4) 
Window signs for permitted retail establishments in all districts. Window signs shall not exceed 50% of the area of the window glass.
In agricultural districts, a permit for two signs, not to exceed 32 square feet per sign in area, may be granted to identify an accessory use permitted. When the agricultural zone does not abut a street, the signs allowed under this section may be located on streetfront property contiguous to the agriculturally zoned land, provided that the land is under the same ownership. The sign shall conform to § 180-77 of this article. V-shaped signs or back signs are allowed. Freestanding signs shall be a minimum of 100 feet apart.
Any signs, except billboards, in existence at the time of the initial adoption of this article on September 12, 1977, shall not be subject to the provisions hereof except as to any provisions dealing with the structural integrity of the sign and § 180-85.
A. 
The erection or continued maintenance of private nonaccessory signs is not permitted.
B. 
The Town Council may authorize the erection of nonaccessory signs, kiosks or directories on public property for direction purposes. Following a public hearing, the Council shall stipulate specifications, conditions, locations and fees for the erection, use and maintenance of each nonaccessory sign, kiosk or directory. The Council may set the number of signs, kiosks or directories and the location thereof, but in no event shall the number of signs, kiosks or directories exceed six in number for any one entity, business, corporation or address.
C. 
Indemnification and liability.
(1) 
The applicant-owner authorized by the Town Council to erect and/or retain a nonaccessory sign, kiosk or directory on public property of the Town of Agawam as authorized under Subsections A and B of this section shall agree to save and hold harmless and indemnify the Town of Agawam, its officers, directors, employees, board members, elected and appointed officials and agents from and against all liability, claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses, attorney's fees, judgments, losses and all causes of action on account of personal injuries, property damage or loss, nuisance or damage of any kind and nature whatsoever, which arise out of or are in any manner connected with by reason of, pertaining to or relative to the authorization, erection, placement, construction, design, location, color, maintenance, repair, removal, destruction, vandalism, theft and accuracy of the signs, kiosks or directories under this section. The applicant-owner shall further agree to save and hold harmless and indemnify the Town of Agawam as aforesaid for any and all causes of action claimed to arise out of or which are in any manner connected with said signs, kiosks or directories, regardless of whether said injury, loss, damage, claim, costs, expenses, attorney's fees, judgments or losses shall have been caused by, or claimed to have been caused by, the negligence or fault of the Town of Agawam as aforesaid or the applicant-owner or by agents or employees of the foregoing or by accident or otherwise.
(2) 
In the event any action is brought against the Town of Agawam as aforesaid, the applicant-owner authorized under this section shall assume full responsibility and liability for the defense thereof, the costs, expenses, attorney's fees, settlements and judgments therefrom, and, upon the failure to do so on notice from the Town of Agawam, the Town of Agawam reserves the right to defend such action or actions and to charge all costs, expenses, attorney's fees, settlements and judgments thereto to the applicant-owner, and the applicant-owner shall immediately pay and reimburse the Town. The applicant-owner shall take all precautions necessary to protect the public against injury and damage.
(3) 
The applicant-owner shall be required to lawfully execute a hold-harmless indemnification agreement in compliance with this section prior to final authorization by the Town Council.
A. 
Overhanging signs. No overhanging signs shall be permitted unless part of a cantilever of a principal building; however, this provision shall not apply to street name signs or to signs or devices erected by the Town, county or commonwealth for the direction and control of traffic.
B. 
Billboards as defined herein are prohibited.
C. 
Private signs on Town property are prohibited unless a permit for such a sign is authorized by the Town Council. No such authorization shall be given until after a duly advertised public hearing in accordance with § 180-82; any such signs shall conform in all respects to all other provisions of this article. Permits for such signs may be revoked at any time by the Town Council.
D. 
No signs shall contain, in the opinion of the Inspector of Buildings or his designee, a color or movement which is a violation of the purpose of this article.
A. 
Temporary signs which do not comply with this article may be allowed only after issuance of a permit in accordance with § 180-76. Temporary signs which do not comply with this article may be authorized by the Inspector of Buildings or his designee for public or nonprofit purposes without fee. Temporary signs shall not exceed 12 square feet in area, and may be maintained for a period not exceeding 180 days for agricultural purposes and 60 days for any other purpose. The Inspector of Buildings or his designee shall have the sole discretion in the issuance or denial of permits for temporary signs. A property owner or business may receive only one permit for a temporary sign in any calendar year.
B. 
Political signs may be erected only on private property and with the landowner's permission. Political signs shall not exceed six square feet in area, may be erected 15 days prior to a primary election and maintained, in good condition, continuously until 48 hours after the close of the polls of the final election. Candidates eliminated in the primary election shall have their signs removed within 48 hours after the close of the polls of the primary election. All such signs shall be removed within the forty-eight-hour limit as a responsibility of the property owner. A challenge to the official count shall not negate this provision.
All signs, whether a permit is required or not, shall be maintained in a safe and legible condition to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Buildings or his designee. Failure to correct violation of this provision within 30 days after notice thereof shall constitute grounds for revocation of the permit, or for removal of the sign if it was erected without the need for a permit. It shall be a duty of the owner and/or the lessee of any sign to maintain the immediate premises occupied by the sign in a clean, sanitary and healthful condition.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article, certain special types of activities or situations are recognized for which such provisions may be modified and permits issued as follows:
A. 
Theaters. The marquee of a theater as defined in MGL c. 143 shall be considered as comprising part of the wall area in determining the total sign area to be permitted.
B. 
Subdivisions. One permanent subdivision name sign, not to exceed 32 square feet in area, may be permitted for each entry to a subdivision from a public way. Such a sign may be erected only upon receiving approval of the definitive plan for the project.
C. 
Contractors, developers. For each construction or development project, there may be issued a temporary permit for one standing sign, not to exceed 32 square feet in area, setting forth facts and names pertinent to the project. Such signs shall be erected only upon receiving approval by the Town for the project. Such signs shall be removed forthwith when the project is completed. Any project which is funded in whole or in part by federal, state or municipal funds may have such signs as the funding authority may require, regardless of the provisions of this article.
D. 
Gasoline stations. Standard pump head signs of gasoline filling stations shall not be included in the total area of signs permitted, and no permit shall be required therefor, but they shall conform to the provisions of § 180-77B of this article.
E. 
Where a building (or buildings in a common group such as a shopping center) contains three or more separate businesses (or professional offices) and it is desired to identify the building or group of buildings as such, in addition to the signs permitted for the individual businesses, there shall be permitted one standing sign displaying the name of the building or group of buildings and not to exceed 64 square feet plus 16 square feet for the listing of each occupant or business.
The Board of Appeals is authorized to grant special permits for signs which would not otherwise comply with this article. In granting any such permit, the Board shall comply with all procedural requirements of law pertaining to the issuance of special permits in general.
The invalidity of any section or provision of this article for the regulation of signs shall not invalidate any other section or provision hereof.