Town of Yorktown, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 9-5-1978 by L.L. No. 13-1978; 5-18-1999 by L.L. No. 7-1999]
The Town Board finds:
A. 
The manner of the erection, location and maintenance of signs affects the public health, safety, morals and the public welfare of the people of this community.
B. 
The safety of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, other users of the public streets and property is affected by the number, size, location and appearance of signs that are intended to and result in the diversion of the attention of motorists.
C. 
The size and location of signs may, if uncontrolled, constitute an obstacle to effective fire-fighting and the provision of other emergency services.
D. 
The construction, erection and maintenance of signs suspended from or placed on the tops of buildings, walls or other structures may constitute a direct danger to pedestrian and vehicular traffic below, especially during periods of strong winds.
E. 
Uncontrolled and unlimited signs adversely affect the aesthetic attractiveness of the natural and man-made attributes of the community and thereby undermine the economic value of the tourism, visitation and permanent economic growth.
F. 
Uncontrolled and unlimited signs may result in a roadside clutter that impedes the flow of legitimate information from businesses to consumers, thereby harming the economic health of the community, and that impedes the flow of information from traffic signs and signals, thereby creating hazards to motorists and pedestrians.
G. 
It is therefore necessary for the promotion and preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the people of this Town that the erection, construction, location and maintenance of signs be regulated and controlled.
[Amended 7-19-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011]
This article shall be construed and implemented to create a comprehensive and balanced system of sign control that accommodates both the need for a well-maintained, safe and attractive community and the need for effective business identification, advertising and communication. It is the intent of this article, and it shall be interpreted, to promote the health, safety, convenience, aesthetics and general welfare of the community by controlling signs that are intended to communicate to the public and to authorize the use of signs that are:
A. 
Compatible with their surroundings.
B. 
Designed, constructed, installed and maintained in a manner that does not endanger public safety or unduly distract motorists.
C. 
Appropriate to the type of activity to which they pertain.
D. 
Large enough to convey sufficient information about the owner or occupants of a particular property, the products or services offered for sale or the activities advertised, but not so large that achievement of the objectives of this article is impeded.
E. 
Expressive of the identity and creativity of individual occupants.
F. 
Expressive of views or opinions with respect to candidates, officials, controversies or issues of public interest.
This article shall apply to all land within the Town.
Compliance with the requirements of these regulations shall not constitute a defense to an action brought to abate a nuisance under the common law.
All signs, including their supports, braces, guys and anchors, electrical parts and lighting fixtures, and all painted and display areas, shall be maintained in accordance with the building and electrical codes in force in the Town and shall present a neat and clean appearance. The vegetation around, in front of, behind and underneath the base of freestanding signs for a distance of 10 feet shall be neatly trimmed and free of unsightly growth, and no rubbish or debris shall be permitted under or near the sign.
It shall be unlawful to erect, cause to be erected, maintain or cause to be maintained any sign not expressly authorized by, or exempted from, this article.
The following signs are expressly prohibited unless exempted or expressly authorized by this article:
A. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection A, regarding signs that are a safety hazard was repealed 7-19-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011.
B. 
Temporary signs, except as permitted by this article.
C. 
Signs with visible moving, revolving or rotating parts or visible mechanical movement of any description or other apparent visible movement, except for traditional barber poles.
D. 
Signs with the optical illusion of movement by means of a design that presents a pattern capable of giving the illusion of motion or changing of copy.
E. 
Signs with lights or illuminations that flash, move, rotate, scintillate, blink, flicker or vary in intensity or color, except for time-temperature-date signs.
F. 
Strings of light bulbs used on commercially developed parcels for commercial purposes, other than traditional holiday decorations.
G. 
Signs, commonly referred to as "wind signs," consisting of one or more banners, flags, pennants, ribbons, spinners, streamer or captive balloons or other objects or material fastened in such a manner as to move upon being subjected to pressure by wind.
H. 
Signs that incorporate projected images, emit any sound that is intended to attract attention or involve the use of live animals.
I. 
Signs that emit audible sound, odor or visible matter, such as smoke or steam.
J. 
Signs or sign structures that interfere in any way with free use of any fire escape or emergency exit, or that obstruct any window.
K. 
Signs that resemble any official sign or marker erected by any governmental agency or that by reason of position, shape or color would conflict with the proper functioning of any traffic sign or signal or be of a size, location, movement, content, color or illumination that may be reasonably confused with or construed as, or conceal, a traffic-control device.
L. 
Signs that obstruct the vision of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists traveling on or entering public streets.
M. 
Any permanent outdoor advertising sign other than an "accessory sign," as defined in this chapter.
N. 
Signs that are of such intensity or brilliance or illuminated in such a way as to cause glare or impair the vision of any motorist, cyclist or pedestrian using or entering a public way or that are a hazard or nuisance to occupants of any property because of glare or other characteristics.
O. 
Signs that contain any lighting or control mechanism that may cause interference with radio, television or other communication signals.
P. 
Searchlights.
Q. 
Signs that are painted, pasted or printed on any curbstone, flagstone, pavement or any portion of any sidewalk or street, except house numbers and traffic control signs.
R. 
Signs placed upon benches or waste receptacles (except for a plaque not in excess of 36 square inches in area identifying the donor of the bench or receptacle).
S. 
Signs erected on public property, or on private property (such as private utility poles) located on public property, other than signs erected by a governmental authority, except as may be specifically permitted by an approval or permitting authority.
T. 
Signs erected over or across any public street, except as may otherwise be expressly authorized by this article, and except governmental signs erected by or on the order of a public body having jurisdiction.
U. 
Signs mounted permanently or temporarily on any vehicle when the vehicle:
(1) 
Is parked for more than 60 consecutive minutes within 100 feet of any public street or right-of-way;
(2) 
Identifies the name of a business located within 500 feet of the parked vehicle;
(3) 
Is visible from such street or right-of-way; and
(4) 
is not regularly used in the conduct of the business advertised on the vehicle, except as specifically permitted by § 300-62 of the Code of the Town of Yorktown. A vehicle used primarily for advertising, or for the purpose of providing transportation for owners or employees of the occupancy advertised on the vehicle, shall not be considered a vehicle used in the conduct of the business.
V. 
Any permanent or temporary sign placed on or behind a window in any nonresidential premises which exceeds 25% of the area of such window.
W. 
Portable signs except as specifically permitted by this article.
[Amended 7-19-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011]
The following signs are exempt from regulation by the Town and from the requirement in this article that a permit be obtained for the erection of permanent signs, provided that they are not placed or constructed so as to create a hazard of any kind:
A. 
Signs necessary to promote the public health, safety and welfare and other regulatory, statutory, traffic control or directional signs erected on public property with permission from the governmental authority having jurisdiction, as well as all signs specifically approved prior to May 18, 1999, by the Town Board or by the Planning Board in the course of any site plan proceeding or by the Zoning Board of Appeals in the course of any proceeding to obtain a special permit or by variance or by ABACA. The burden of establishing any prior sign approval shall be borne by the sign owner.
B. 
Legal notices and official instruments.
C. 
Decorative flags and bunting (not containing advertising), which shall not be left in place for more than seven days.
D. 
Holiday lights and decorations displayed in season.
E. 
Merchandise displays behind storefront windows, so long as no part of the display moves or contains flashing lights.
F. 
Signs placed on or behind a window, which do not exceed 25% of the area of such window.
G. 
Signs incorporated into machinery or equipment by a manufacturer or distributor which identify or advertise only the product or service dispensed by the machine or equipment, such as signs customarily affixed to vending machines, newspaper racks, telephone booths and gasoline pumps.
H. 
Advertising and identifying signs located on taxicabs, buses, trailers, trucks or vehicle bumpers, except for "portable signs" as defined in this chapter and except as provided in § 300-193U.
I. 
Warning signs to indicate to the public the dangers of trespassing, swimming, animals or similar hazards.
J. 
Works of art that do not constitute advertising.
K. 
Religious displays.
L. 
Alarm signs no more than one square foot in area.
M. 
Interior direction or directory signs on commercial or multifamily residential properties, which signs are not visible from any public street.
N. 
Public utility signs that identify the location of underground utility lines and facilities, high-voltage lines and facilities and other utility facilities and appurtenances.
O. 
Temporary opinion signs.
P. 
Any public notice or warning required by a valid and applicable federal, state, Town or school district law, regulation or ordinance.
[Amended 7-19-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011]
A. 
Except as provided in this article, any proposed nonexempt sign, and all changes to existing nonexempt signs, located within the Town shall require a sign permit issued by the Building Inspector and shall be further subject to conditions imposed by any approving authority having site plan, subdivision or special permit jurisdiction over the land use on which such sign or signs are located or with which they are to be associated and subject to the further provisions of § 300-193.4 hereof.
B. 
Signs exempt from the permit requirement shall consist of those signs specifically exempted from regulation under this article as well as temporary signs, including temporary opinion signs, specifically permitted by this article.
[Amended 6-6-2017 by L.L. No. 9-2017]
A. 
A sign permit application shall contain the following:
(1) 
A completed application on a form to be prescribed by the Building Inspector.
(2) 
Drawings of the proposed sign at a scale no smaller than one inch to one foot which clearly convey the size of the sign and the design and size of all sign design features of the sign.
(3) 
A site plan or accurate drawing to scale indicating the proposed location of the sign. The site plan shall illustrate the site on which the proposed sign is to be located and the surrounding area.
(4) 
Drawings showing the proposed construction and anchorage of the sign.
(5) 
Written consent of the owner of the building, structure or land at which the sign is to be erected, in the event that the applicant is not the owner thereof.
(6) 
If applicable, a master sign plan complying with the provisions of § 300-193.14A of this article.
B. 
The application shall be accompanied by a fee in an amount set forth in the Master Fee Schedule.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See § 168-1, Master fee schedule for permits, licenses and land development applications.
A. 
All applications for signs shall be submitted to the Building Inspector, who shall make a determination whether the proposed sign is in conformity with this chapter. If the application is for a sign, the location or permitted location area of which has been previously approved in association with a site plan or parking plan approval, the Building Inspector shall refer the application to the ABACA for its recommendations as to conditions of permit approval. With respect to any sign, this burden of establishing that it has been previously subject to site plan or parking plan review shall be borne by the sign owner. All other sign applications shall be subject to review of the Building Inspector only.
B. 
If the sign authorized by a sign permit is not completed within six months of the date of the issuance of the permit, the permit shall expire.
C. 
A sign permit may be revoked in the event that there is any false statement or misrepresentation made relative to a material fact in the application upon which the permit was based or if the sign is not erected in accordance with the permit as issued.
A. 
Where allowed. Temporary signs are allowed throughout the Town only in compliance with the restrictions imposed by this article.
B. 
Types allowed. A temporary sign may be a freestanding or building sign, but may not be an electric sign.
C. 
Removal of illegal temporary signs. Any temporary sign not complying with the requirements of this article is illegal and shall be removed.
D. 
Restrictions on temporary signs. A temporary sign may be used only for the following purposes:
(1) 
To indicate that the owner of the property on which it is displayed is, either personally or through an agent, actively attempting to sell, rent or lease the property on which the sign is displayed, subject to the following:
(a) 
In a residence district, no more than one such sign shall be permitted, not to exceed four square feet in area, containing no illumination and located behind the lot line of such property so as to not obstruct vehicular sight lines for passing drivers.
(b) 
In a business or industrial district, no more than one sign shall be permitted for each street frontage, not to exceed two such signs, not to exceed 12 square feet in area for each sign, containing no illumination and located behind the lot line of such property so as to not obstruct vehicular sight lines for passing drivers.
(2) 
A temporary sign not exceeding four square feet in area in a residential zone or 12 square feet in a nonresidential zone shall be permitted to identify construction in progress. Such sign shall not be displayed more than 15 days prior to the beginning of actual construction of the project and shall be removed when construction is completed. If a sign is displayed pursuant to this section, but construction is not initiated within 15 days after the message is displayed, or if construction is discontinued for a period of more than 15 days, the sign shall be removed, pending initiation or continuation of construction activities.
(3) 
In a business or industrial district, a temporary sign, not more than four square feet in area, shall be permitted to indicate the opening of a new business, or a business in a new location, if such business has no permanent signs. Such a "new business" sign may be displayed for a period of not more than 15 days or until installation of permanent signs, whichever shall occur first. A "new location" sign may be displayed at the former location for no more than six months after the date on which the business move began.
(4) 
A temporary sign or banner, not in excess of 35 square feet in area, shall be permitted to announce or advertise, no more than 30 days in advance, such temporary uses as fairs, carnivals, seasonal agricultural events, circuses, revivals, sporting events, flea markets or any public, cultural, charitable, educational or religious event or function, including message of congratulation or commemoration. Such sign shall be removed within 15 days after the special event.
(5) 
A temporary sign shall be permitted to announce an individual or neighborhood "tag" or "garage" sale, provided that the following conditions are met:
(a) 
Any such sign may be displayed for 48 hours before sale event and no more than 24 hours after the sale event.
(b) 
Any such signs may be posted no further than 1,500 feet away from the site of the proposed sale.
(c) 
No such sign may be posted on any private property without the consent of the owner of such property.
(d) 
Such signs shall be no larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches in size.
(6) 
Real estate directional signs. Temporary real estate directional signs, not located on the property under development, shall be permitted for real estate development projects located wholly or partially in the Town, and may be erected and maintained, subject to conditions established by the Building Inspector upon application. No more than five real estate directional signs may be permitted for each real estate development. No real estate direction sign may exceed three square feet in area. No such sign shall be permitted on public property, except as may be specifically approved pursuant to § 300-193S.
(7) 
Real estate development signs. Signs identifying a real estate development shall be permitted for each development site, provided that any such signs shall be located on the property being developed. Any real estate development sign may carry an inscription on two sides, provided that such signs shall constitute not more than one panel and the copy posted on each side is identical. Any real estate development sign may be erected and maintained for a period not to exceed one year. The Planning Board may require any applicant for a real estate development sign to post a bond or other security satisfactory to such Board to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of this article. No real estate development sign shall exceed 35 square feet in area on one side, eight feet in horizontal dimension or 4 1/2 feet in vertical dimension or extend more than eight feet above grade. Each real estate development sign shall be set back from the property line a distance of not less than 10 feet. An applicant may apply to the Planning Board for a reasonable extension of time, not to exceed one year, and subject to such reasonable conditions as the Planning Board may impose, if development has not been completed by the expiration of the original one year permitted by this article.
(8) 
Temporary opinion signs.
[Added 7-19-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011]
A. 
Types allowed. A permanent accessory sign may be a freestanding or building sign. A permanent accessory sign may not be a roof sign. All such signs must be accessory to the lawfully permitted use existing upon the premises where such signs are located.
B. 
Permissible number, area, spacing and height. The following tables set forth the permissible number and dimensional requirements for permanent accessory signs in residential and nonresidential zones, other than with respect to signs associated with gasoline filling stations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The tables of signs permitted in residential and nonresidential zones are located at the end of this chapter.
A. 
Where two sign faces are placed back-to-back on a single structure, and the faces are at no point more than three feet apart, the total area of the sign shall be counted as the area of one of the faces.
B. 
Where four sign faces are arranged in a square, rectangle or diamond, the total area of the sign shall be the area of the two largest faces.
C. 
Where a sign is in the form of a three-dimensional object, the total area shall be determined by drawing a rectangle, the sides of which are horizontal and vertical and touch the extreme points or edges of the projected image of the sign, and multiplying that area by two. The "projected image" is that image created by tracing the largest possible two-dimensional outline of the sign.
A. 
In general, the number of signs shall be the number of noncontiguous sign faces. Multiple noncontiguous sign faces may be counted as a single sign if all the sign faces are included in the geometric figure used for determining the sign area.
B. 
Special situations.
(1) 
Where two sign faces are placed back-to-back and are at no point more than three feet apart, the faces shall be counted as one sign.
(2) 
If a sign has four faces arranged in a square, rectangle or diamond, the faces shall be counted as two signs.
All permanent signs must comply with the following design, construction, and location standards.
A. 
Compliance with building and electrical codes required. All permanent signs, and the illumination thereof, shall be designed, constructed and maintained in conformity with applicable provisions of the building and electrical codes in force in the Town.
B. 
Illumination standards. Illuminated signs shall not have lighting mechanisms that project more than 18 inches perpendicularly from any surface of the sign over public space. Internal illumination of signs shall be permitted.
Time-temperature-date signs are permitted as permanent accessory signs on commercially developed parcels notwithstanding the general prohibition on changing signs. These signs may only display numerical information in an easily comprehensible way. They may be freestanding or building signs and are subject to the regulations applicable to such signs. They shall be counted as part of an occupancy's allowable sign area.
Directional signs limited in area to four square feet and containing no advertising content, giving directions to motorists regarding the location of parking areas and access drives, shall be permitted as permanent accessory signs on all parcels and shall not be counted as part of an occupancy's allowable sign area.
A. 
Generally, a permanent identifying sign, not exceeding 15 square feet in area, may be displayed at each street entrance to a residential development, by special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
B. 
Restrictions.
(1) 
When considering the placement of such signs, the Zoning Board shall consider the location of public utilities, sidewalks and future street widening.
(2) 
The Zoning Board shall ensure that such signs shall be maintained perpetually by the developer, the owner of the sign, a condominium or homeowners' association or some other person who is legally accountable under a maintenance arrangement approved by the Zoning Board. If no accountable person accepts legal responsibility to maintain the signs and no other provision has been made for the maintenance of them, the signs shall be removed by the developer or owner.
One announcement sign, as defined by this chapter, shall be permitted on each lot, by special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, except that two announcement signs may be permitted for institutions or places of worship. Signs shall be nonmoving and, if illuminated, the light sources shall not be exposed.
A. 
Signs at commercial complexes constructed after the effective date of this article shall conform to the standards set forth in this chapter and to an approved sign format, known as the "master sign plan" or "plan" approved by the approval authority. Such plan shall be included with the permit application to erect such sign and shall be maintained on file in the Building Department. The plan shall be presented in graphical form, together with written specifications in sufficient detail to enable the Building Inspector to authorize signs based on the plan. As a minimum, the plan shall specify the types of signs and dimensions (not to exceed the size limits contained in this article) which will be permitted each occupant within the complex. The plan shall also contain common design elements, such as placement, color, shape or style of lettering, which lend a unified appearance to the signs of the occupants within the complex. The plan may only be modified with the approval of the Building Inspector upon submission of a revised plan and specifications. Signs erected on commercial complexes shall also comply with conditions prescribed by the approving authority.
B. 
Directory signs at commercial complexes shall be encouraged, and placement and design of such signs shall be part of any site plan review. Placement and design of any directory sign for any commercial complex existing on the date of the adoption of this chapter shall initially be reviewed by the Building Inspector pursuant to a sign permit application submitted in accordance with § 300-193.3. In reviewing any such application, the Building Inspector shall apply the substantive standards prescribed herein in order to achieve a proper balance between the requirement for visibility and ease of reading of the components of the directory, on the one hand, and the requirements of safety and the avoidance of distraction of drivers, on the other.
The Town Board may, by resolution from time to time, prescribe certain nonbinding design guidelines, which may be unique from hamlet to hamlet, which guidelines shall be for the guidance of ABACA in its review of sign applications, but such standards shall not be binding on any applicant and shall not have the force of law.
A. 
All nonconforming signs with a replacement cost of less than $100 shall be removed or made to conform within 60 days of the effective date of this article.
B. 
Unless an earlier removal is required by Subsection C below, all other nonconforming signs may be maintained for the periods set forth in the following amortization table, beginning on the effective date of this article:
Sign Cost or Renovation Cost
Permitted Years from Effective Date
$100 to $1,000
1
$1,001 to $3,000
2
$3,001 to $10,000
3
more than $10,000
4
C. 
Any owner of a sign who requests an amortization period longer than one year shall, within 60 days from the date of enactment of this article, file with the Building Inspector a sworn statement and documentation as to the cost of the sign, the date of erection or the cost and date of the most recent renovation and a written agreement to remove the sign at or before the expiration of the amortization period applicable to the sign. Failure to file such a statement shall require removal of such sign within one year of the effective date of this article.
D. 
In the event of any disagreement between the sign owner and the Building Inspector as to the cost of the sign, the Building Inspector's determination of such cost shall be final.
Subject to the limitations imposed by § 300-193.16, a nonconforming sign may be continued and shall be maintained in good condition as required by this article, but it shall not be:
A. 
Structurally changed to another nonconforming sign, although its textual and pictorial content may be changed.
B. 
Structurally altered to prolong the life of the sign, except to meet safety requirements.
C. 
Altered in any manner that increases the degree of nonconformity.
D. 
Expanded.
E. 
Reestablished after damage or destruction if the estimated cost of reconstruction exceeds 50% of the estimated replacement cost as determined by the Building Inspector.
F. 
Continued in use when a conforming sign or sign structure shall be erected on the same parcel or unit.
G. 
Continued in use when the structure housing the occupancy is demolished or requires renovations the cost of which exceeds 50% of the assessed value of the structure.
H. 
Continued in use after the structure containing the occupancy has been vacant for six months or longer.
Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the Town Board may grant a variance from the terms of § 300-193.16 for up to one additional year where it finds such additional period of the time is necessary in order to avoid unnecessary hardship not caused by the petitioner and such variance is not contrary to the public interest. Multiple one-year extensions may be granted where warranted, but may only be granted one year at a time.