Skip to main content

SECTION 3.35 SIGN CONTROL

.1 Intent and Purpose:

The City of Malden recognizes that signs are an important means of visual communication in our society and that businesses and individuals have the right to convey messages using signs that are accessory to the use of the premises where the signs are located. It is the intent of this section:

.1 to provide a reasonable balance between the right of a business or individual to identify itself and to convey a message and the right of the public to be protected against the visual discord that results from

unrestricted size, placement and design of signs.

.2 to promote public health, safety and welfare by insuring that signs are properly designed, constructed and maintained; .3 to ensure that signs are compatible with adjacent land uses, enhance the aesthetics of the community and promote economic viability.

.2 Definitions:

As used in this ordinance, the following words shall have the following meanings:

Awning: Any device, fixed or retractable, of any material, which projects more than 12 inches from a building wall and extends over or otherwise covers any portion of a sidewalk, walkway, dining area, or driveway.

Sign: Any letter, number or symbol or any combination thereof designed and placed so as to be visible from the exterior of a premises and to convey a message to the public.

Sign, Abandoned: A sign which:

.1 advertises a business, service or product no longer occupying or available at the premises to which it is attached; or

.2 has, in the opinion of the Building Inspector, so deteriorated that the cost of repair would exceed 30% of cost of replacement.

Sign, Accessory: A sign which advertises or identifies the goods or services offered by the business conducted on the premises where the sign is located.

Sign, Freestanding: A fixed sign not attached to a building or structure and supported by one or more columns, poles or braces placed in, on or upon the ground.

Sign, Illuminated: A sign on which electric light is projected, whether from the interior of exterior, including signs incorporating neon or exposed gas tubes.

Sign, Non-Accessory: A sign which advertises or identifies goods or services not available on the premises, or relates to events or people not located on the premises.

Sign Portable: A sign not affixed to a building, structure or the ground.

Sign, Primary: A sign which advertises or identifies the business conducted on the premises where the sign is located.

Sign, Projecting: A sign affixed to a building and designed to be read at an angle perpendicular to the building; provided that no projecting sign shall be more than 2 linear feet in height nor project more than three feet from the building to which it is affixed.

Sign, Roof: A sign projecting above the lower roof line of a building or affixed to any portion of the roof.

Sign, Temporary: A professionally produced vinyl banner containing the name of the business conducted or to be conducted at the premises and the words “coming soon” or “now open”.

Sign, Wall: A sign affixed to a building and designed to be read at an angle parallel to the building.

Sign, Window: A sign placed in the interior of a building so as to be visible on the exterior through the glass surface of a window or door.

Sign Area: The measurement, in square feet, of the smallest single rectangle enclosing all elements of the sign face.

Sign Face: The part of a sign used to communicate information, including all background material, panels or trim used to differentiate the sign for the surface on which it is placed.

.3 APPROVAL REQUIRED FOR CERTAIN SIGNS; SIGN DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE - COMPOSITION AND DUTIES

Except as provided in Section 3.35.4, no sign shall be refaced, constructed, altered or changed without a permit issued by the Building Inspector, provided that no permit for the construction, alteration or modification of a sign shall be issued without the approval of the Sign Design Review Committee. Any conditions or restrictions contained in the Sign Design Approval shall become conditions for the issuance of the building permit.The Sign Design Review Committee shall be composed of five members as follows: the Executive Director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority or his designee; the City Engineer or his designee; the Director of Permits, Inspections and Planning or his designee; the President of the City Council or his designee and one Councillor At Large designated by the Council President.

The Sign Design Review Committee shall adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the intent of this ordinance, including but not limited to application requirements, detailed design guidelines, and administrative fees and may issue approvals with such conditions, restrictions and limitations as are deemed in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare. The Sign Design Review Committee may require that signs be restricted to specific colors, sizes, methods of illumination, materials, and appearances so as to achieve uniformity.

Applications for design review shall be filed with the Department of Inspectional Services. The Sign Design Review Committee shall, within 45 days of the submission of a completed application, issue an approval or notice of denial to the applicant; provided that, should the Sign Design Review Committee fail to take action within the allotted time, approval shall be deemed granted in accordance with the application.

.4 SIGNS NOT REQUIRING A PERMIT

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 3.35.3, no permit shall be required for the following signs:

.1 No more than two signs , not exceeding 6 square feet each, advertising a site for sale or lease.

.2 No more than one sign, not exceeding 3 square feet in area, containing only the street name or the street number of the premises;

.3 No more than one contractor’s sign, not exceeding 3 square feet, containing information relative to a construction or renovation project in progress;

.4 No more than one flag, not including the flag of the United States of America, not exceeding 6 square feet; .5 No more than two accessory window signs; provided that all window signs do not exceed a total of 20% of the aggregate window area;

.6 No more than two signs, not exceeding 3 square feet each, indicating the means of entrance or egress for a building or property.

.7 For non-residential properties, no more than two nonaccessory window signs, not exceeding 2 square feet each; provided that any sign displayed under this section remains no longer than 30 days and is removed within 5 days of the completion of the event to which it relates;

.8 For residential properties, no more than one non-accessory sign not exceeding six (6) square feet; provided that any sign displayed under this section remains no longer than 60 days and is removed within 5 days of the completion of the event to which it relates;

.9 Temporary signs, provided that an application for a Primary Sign has been filed with the Sign Design Review Committee and provided further that said temporary sign does not exceed 32 square feet;

.10 Any informational or promotional banner, displayed by the city or a Malden based non-profit, on municipally owned or controlled property; provided that the design, location and duration of display has been approved by the Sign Design Review Committee;

.11 Any banner displayed from a utility pole with the approval of the owner;

.12 A billboard regulated by the state Outdoor Advertising Board.

.5 PROHIBITED SIGNS

No approval shall be issued for the following types of signs: .1 Signs designed to incorporate movement, including signs designed for propulsion by wind, including but not limited to banners, pennants, spinners and streamers; .2 Signs designed to display a message which is electronically changed, whether by flashing, blinking, scrolling, digital or stationary display of letters or images, unless the sign: .1 displays only time and temperature; or

.2 is affixed to a state, federal or municipal property;

.3 Signs erected so as to obstruct any means of egress from a building;

.4 Roof signs, excluding bill boards regulated by the state Outdoor Advertising Board;

.5 Banners affixed to the exterior of a building; .6 Accessory window signs covering more than 20% of the aggregate window area; .7 Non-accessory window signs exceeding 6 square feet; .8 Signs containing red and green lights arranged in such a manner that, in the opinion of the Traffic Supervisor, said sign would constitute a hazard to motorists or pedestrians; .9 Balloons, blimps, or other three-dimensional figure anchored to building, structure or ground;

.10 Abandoned signs; provided that, if the premises is no longer occupied, it shall be the obligation of the building owner to remove signs and to restore the sign frieze to its original condition.

.11 A-Frame or T-Frame portable signs, except as permitted under Section 3.35.11

.6 REGULATION OF SIGNS - IN GENERAL

All signs requiring design approval shall conform to the following minimum standards:

.1 Signs shall incorporate no more than three colors, including the background;

.2 No more than one primary sign shall be permitted for any business, except as follows:

.1 for businesses with frontage on more than one street, one additional primary sign, 50% or less in area, may be allowed

.2 for freestanding signs containing more than one sign face, one sign may be allowed on each face;

.3 No more than two exterior accessory signs shall be permitted for any business; provided that sign faces for accessory signs do not exceed, in the aggregate more than 25% of the wall to which they are affixed; and provided further that doors and windows shall not be included in the computation of wall area;

.4 All signs shall be of a color and texture compatible with the building to which it is affixed;

.5 Unless primarily engaged in the sale of tobacco or alcohol for consumption off premise, only one sign may advertise the sale of either tobacco or alcohol.

.7 REGULATION OF AWNING SIGNS

Awning signs shall meet the following minimum requirements: .1 Awnings shall be made of flame proof materials; .2 Awnings shall be located only on ground level and shall provide a minimum 8 foot clearance from the ground; .3 Awning frames shall be attached flat against the building surface;

.4 Fixed awnings shall project no more than five feet from the building;

.5 Retractable awnings shall be positioned flat against the building when not in use;

.6 The sign area of any awning sign shall not exceed 25% of the surface area of the awning and the sides and underside of the awning shall not be included in computation of the sign area.

.7 Awnings shall bear only primary signs.

.8 REGULATION OF WALL SIGNS

The Sign Design Review Committee shall adopt regulations to allow for the restoration or application of historic or artistic murals to the exposed exterior walls of buildings. All other wall signs shall meet the following minimum requirements:

.1 No non-illuminated wall sign shall project more than eight inches from the wall to which it is affixed;

.2 No illuminated wall sign shall project more than 10 inches from the wall to which it is affixed;

.3 The sign area of a primary wall sign shall not exceed the lesser of:

.1 one square foot for each linear foot of building frontage or part thereof or;

.2 25% of the surface area of the wall, excluding window and door areas.

.4 Accessory wall signs shall not exceed, in the aggregate, more than 20% of the surface area of the wall or walls to which they are affixed, excluding window and door areas; .9 REGULATION OF WINDOW SIGNS

Window signs shall meet the following minimum requirements: .1 No primary window sign at street level shall exceed 20% of the aggregate glass area nor 50% of any individual pane; .2 Accessory signs at street level shall not exceed, in the aggregate, more than 10% of the aggregate glass area nor 25% of any individual pane;

.3 Window signs above street level, whether primary of accessory, shall be limited to one window and shall not exceed more than 20% of the glass area.

.10 REGULATION OF FREESTANDING SIGNS

Freestanding signs shall meet the following minimum requirements: .1 No ground sign shall exceed 50 square feet for each sign face;

.2 No ground sign shall exceed 15 feet in height; .3 No ground sign shall have a clearance from the ground between 4 feet and 8 feet.

.11 REGULATION OF PORTABLE SIGNS

The Sign Design Review Committee may issue annual permits for portable signs only to those businesses which, in the ordinary course of their affairs, temporarily conduct business at locations which are not their principle place of business.

A portable sign permitted under this section shall meet the following minimum requirements:

.1 Portable signs shall be either A-frame or T-Frame.

.2 No portable sign shall exceed 6 square feet per sign face nor contain more

Nor contain more than two sign faces;

.3 Portable signs shall be removed within one hour of the conclusion of the event

To which they relate.

.12 ENFORCEMENT

Violations of the provisions of this ordinance, rules and regulations adopted by the Sign Design Review Committee or any restriction or limitation placed on a permit granted hereunder may be punished by the Director of Inspectional Services or his designee with a fine not to exceed $300.00 per offense, imposed in the manner provided in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40, Section 21D. Every 24 hours during which a violation exists shall be a separate offense for which a separate fine may be imposed.