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Town of Dalton, MA
Berkshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 5-5-2014 ATM by Art. 19]
A. 
Authority and interpretation.
(1) 
This article, governing signs and advertising devices, is adopted as a zoning bylaw pursuant to MGL c. 40A. Any sign legally in existence on the date of acceptance of this bylaw shall not be affected by any revisions and shall be permitted to remain as a lawfully pre-existing sign.
(2) 
For the purpose of this bylaw, the special permit granting authority shall be the Board of Appeals.
B. 
Introduction. The Dalton envisioned under this article is a classic New England town, with a strong central village contrasting with the openness of surrounding residential neighborhoods. Interpretation of the bylaw, and granting of future special permits or variances to this bylaw, should embrace the following guidelines.
(1) 
The primary function of a sign is to tell people where they can find what they are looking for. Selling a product should always be a subordinate purpose.
(2) 
Signs should be expressive of the proprietor's identity.
(3) 
Signs should be appropriate to the type of activity to which they pertain.
(4) 
Signs should be compatible with the visual character of the area surrounding them. Carved signs are compatible in all areas and the bylaw encourages their use.
ALTERATION 
Any change in size, shape, color, lighting, type of lighting, location or height of a sign, or any other changes of a sign.
ANIMATED SIGN
Any sign using movement or change of lighting to depict action, to create special effects, or to create scenes.
BANNER/PENNANT
A sign made of fabric or any flexible material with no enclosing framework.
BEACON
Any light with one or more beams of light directed onto the atmosphere or at one or more points not on the same lot as the light source; also, any light source with one or more beams of light that rotate or move.
BILLBOARD SIGN
A board, usually outdoors, on which advertisements or notices are posted.
BUILDING MARKER
Any sign indicating the name of a building or date and incidental information about its construction, which sign is cut into a masonry surface or made of metal or similar permanent material.
BUILDING SIGN
Any sign attached directly to, or painted upon, any exterior surface of any building.
BUSINESS
A legally permitted occupant of land or premises, which is found or located within its own separate, physical space and with its own separate entrance.
CANOPY SIGN
Any sign that is a part of an awning, canopy of fabric or plastic, or structural protective cover over a door, entrance, window or outdoor service area.
CHANGEABLE MESSAGE SIGN
See "electronic message sign."
COMMERCIAL MESSAGE
Any wording, logo or other representation that, directly or indirectly, names, advertises or calls attention to a business, product, service or other commercial activity.
COMPANION SIGNS
Two or more signs which convey a complete message, or are a match or mate for each other.
CONTRACTOR'S SIGN
A temporary sign exhibited for the period of time for which work is taking place, advertising the contractor's name or relevant information. The sign shall not exceed three square feet in area and must be removed eight days after completion of the work.
DIRECTIONAL SIGN
Any sign designed solely for the purpose of traffic and/or pedestrian direction.
DIRECTORY SIGN
Any sign which lists the tenants or occupants of a building and that may indicate their respective professions.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE SIGN
Any externally visible sign, or portion of a sign, that displays an electronic image or video which may or may not include text and where the rate of change is electronically programmed and can be modified by electronic processes. This definition includes television screens, plasma screens, digital screens, LED screens, video boards, holographic displays, and other similar media.
ESTABLISHMENT
A legally permitted occupant of land or premises, which is found or located within its own separate, physical space.
EXTERNALLY LIT SIGN
A sign which is illuminated via a light source located outside the body of the sign.
FLAG
A fabric containing distinctive colors, patterns or graphic used as a symbol of a nation, state, governmental agency, or nonprofit agency.
FLASHING
Any source that emits a brief, sudden burst of light. Also, any light created by a rotating bulb or other source.
FLUSH MOUNTED SIGN
A sign attached to and mounted parallel to the face of a building or structure.
FREESTANDING SIGN
A sign supported by one or more poles, columns, or supports placed in or on the ground and not attached to any building or structure.
INCIDENTAL SIGN
Any sign, generally informational, that has a purpose secondary to the use of the lot on which it is located, such as "no parking," "entrance," loading only," "telephone" and other similar directives. No sign with a commercial message shall be considered an incidental sign.
INTEGRALLY LIT SIGN
A sign which is externally lit, but its lighting is integral to the sign, such as a light source that spells out the sign message.
INTERMITTENTLY ILLUMINATED SIGN
Any sign lit via a light source that alternately ceases and begins again, alternately changes color and/or alternately changes intensity more than one time in a twelve-hour period.
INTERNALLY LIT SIGN
A sign that is lit with a light source located within the body of the sign.
NON-CONFORMING SIGN
Any sign that was legally in existence on the date of acceptance of this bylaw, but which is not in conformance with the standards or requirements of this bylaw.
NON-LEGAL SIGNS
Any sign that was not, or is not, legally in existence and was not permitted.
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which directs attention to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment that is not carried on, sold or offered on the same premises. Temporary signs as defined by this bylaw are not considered off-premises signs for the purpose of this bylaw.
ON-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which directs attention to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment carried on, sold or offered on the same premises.
ORNAMENTAL STRUCTURES
Decorated objects not related to the function of the business.
PREMISES
The lot, building, or set of related buildings comprising the location of one or more businesses, residences, or other ventures.
PROJECTING SIGN
A sign attached to and projecting away from the face of a building or structure.
RESIDENTIAL SIGN
A sign located on residential property for identification purposes.
SIGN
Any structure, wall display, device, building color, or representation which is designed or used to advertise or call attention to a business, association, profession, commodity product, institution, service, entertainment, person, place or thing, or activity of any kind, and is visible or audible from a highway or other public right-of-way. Not included in this definition is the flag of any nation or state displayed on a single pole. Also not included in this definition is the display of seasonal flags on a single pole in residential districts, provided that such flags do not exceed 15 square feet in area.
STREAMERS
A long narrow flag or pennant.
TEMPORARY SIGN
A sign exhibited for advertising a specific event or occurrence that is temporary in nature.
VACANCY SIGNS
Used in conjunction with approved hotel signs. "Open" or "Closed" signage shall not be considered a changeable message sign for the purposes of this bylaw.
WHIRLIGIG
Any device, usually powered by wind, that whirls or spins.
WINDOW SIGN
Any sign affixed to the inside of a window or door, or a sign placed within a building so as to be plainly visible and legible through a window or door. Small signs incorporated into a window display of merchandise and measuring no more than 100 square inches shall not be considered window signs.
No signs or advertising devices of any kind or nature shall be erected on any premises or affixed to the outside of any structure or be visible from the outside of any structure, and/or placed on or over public property, except as specifically permitted in the following Schedule of Sign Regulations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Sign Regulations is included as an attachment to this chapter.
A. 
Shopping centers or plazas. In new shopping centers or plazas consisting of multiple and adjacent business establishments, each business establishment will constitute a separate building for the purpose of sign control enforcement. The entire shopping plaza area shall be permitted one L-type sign, wholly inside the front property line, at right angles thereto and not to exceed a height of 20 feet and a width of six feet, in addition to signs permitted elsewhere in this bylaw.
B. 
Gasoline stations and garages. Gasoline stations and garages shall be allowed one permanent oil company trademark sign in addition to name sign, plus the customary lubrication, washing and service signs displayed in the positions to which they apply, and one A-frame or easel-type sign at the property frontage. So-called special signs will be permitted on the sides or head of gasoline pumps only.
(1) 
Name sign is defined as the name of the service station, such as John Doe's Service Station.
(2) 
A-frame or easel-type signs shall be limited to a height of four feet above the ground and shall not exceed an area of eight square feet on each side. All other regulations appearing heretofore with respect to size and area shall apply to the other unattached or attached signs.
(3) 
The company trademark sign, when it appears as an unattached sign, shall be subject to the same height and area regulations as Subsection A(5)(b) of the Schedule of Sign Regulations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Sign Regulations is included as an attachment to this chapter.
A. 
The following signs, advertising devices, sounds (and devices closely related thereto) are specifically prohibited in all zoning districts except as may be otherwise permitted in this bylaw.
(1) 
Flashing, animated, beacons, integrally lit, internally lit, tube illuminated graphics, changeable message or intermittently illuminated signs. Commercial and residential holiday decorations or displays are specifically excluded from this restriction.
(2) 
Companion signs, advertising successively or repetitively.
(3) 
Reflectors on signs which are not parts of letters or symbols of a sign.
(4) 
Advertising signs tacked, painted or otherwise attached to utility poles, trees, fences, sidewalks or curbs.
(5) 
Streamers, whirligigs and other advertising devices with similar characteristics.
(6) 
Exterior neon or gas-filled tube-type signs.
(7) 
Any sign interfering with pedestrian or vehicular safety.
(8) 
A-frame or sandwich board signs, sidewalk and curb signs, except as a temporary sign as allowed in this bylaw.
(9) 
Signs constructed, and/or painted, with any luminescent or reflective materials.
(10) 
Any projection of sound associated with a commercial message or advertising message, or sound used to attract attention in such a manner that the sound is audible on adjacent property or any public property.
(11) 
Signs placed on, or affixed to, vehicles and/or trailers which are parked on any property or roadway so as to be visible from a public right-of-way where the apparent use is to advertise a product, or direct people to a business or activity located on the same or nearby property. Excludes signage for the sale of personal items at the owner's residence or premises.
(12) 
Signs which imitate, interfere with, obstruct the view of, or can be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal, or other device.
(13) 
Any sign that is obscene or depicts or relates to sexual conduct or sexual excitement as defined in MGL c. 272, § 31 and is visible from any public property.
B. 
No person, firm, association or corporation shall post, erect, display or maintain within view from any public property any off-premises sign, billboard sign, or other advertising device except as provided in Subsection B of the Schedule of Sign Regulations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Sign Regulations is included as an attachment to this chapter.
C. 
No signs advertising off-premises products, services or entertainment shall be painted or affixed to a rock or tree.
A. 
In no case shall an illuminated sign of any type interfere with traffic signals.
B. 
Permanently exposed lights outlining any part of a building or structure shall not be permitted except temporary holiday lighting.
C. 
Sign illumination shall be shielded at its source to prevent high intensity light beams from shining onto any street or adjoining property.
D. 
Illuminated signs shall not exceed 0.3 footcandle over ambient lighting conditions when measured per the brightness measurement methodology of the International Sign Association (ISA).
A. 
Any sign which is dangerous or unsafe in any manner or any sign erected hereafter contrary to the provisions herein shall be repaired and made safe, attractive and in conformity with this bylaw or shall be taken down and removed by the owner, lessor, agent or occupant of the building, property, or land upon which it is placed or to which it is attached.
B. 
The Inspector of Buildings shall have the power to order the repair or removal of any sign which, in his opinion, is dangerous or unsafe, or is erected or maintained contrary to this bylaw. The Inspector of Buildings shall serve written notice upon the owner, agent or person having control of said sign, directing him to repair or remove the same, as the case may be, or to apply to the Inspector of Buildings for a hearing to show cause why the order should not be carried out within a time not to exceed 15 days after receipt of such notice. In case of failure of such owner, or agent or other person having control as aforesaid, to comply with such notice, the Inspector of Buildings shall have the power, under due process of law, to cause the same to be removed.
A. 
Signs and banners must be firmly attached to a supporting device and must present no undue hazard to the public. Such signs shall not be displayed more than 60 days, and shall be removed within 15 days after the event. Such signs shall not exceed six square feet in area.
B. 
The general intent is to allow individuals reasonable opportunity to advertise events such as yard sales or charitable events, or to place directional signs for special events, but not to allow commercial entities to post additional signs not otherwise permitted in this bylaw.
A. 
Upon enactment of this bylaw, a permit shall be required for each new sign from the Inspector of Buildings as set forth in the Schedule of Sign Regulations.
B. 
Within one year after the enactment of this bylaw all existing signs requiring approval of the Inspector of Buildings as called for in this bylaw shall be registered with the Inspector of Buildings.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Sign Regulations is included as an attachment to this chapter.