Sign Permit Process

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So, you want to put up a sign for your business – Know that all business signs require a permit (the form can be picked up from the Building Inspector, or downloaded here [PDF]) and must be reviewed by the Department of Planning and Community Development (located in the Town Hall Annex) BEFORE it can be approved by the Building Inspector.

Where to start?You must know the zoning district in which your property is located.Generally, this can be found by visiting the Assessor’s page on the town website; select “look up your assessment” and after entering the address, the resultant page will indicate information about this property, including the zoning district (Zn=zoning district).

Signage is regulated under the Town’s Zoning Bylaw; therefore, after you know the zoning district, you will want to look at the Zoning Bylaw; it is available on the Town website.Begin by looking in Article 2 at the definitions for the various types of signs (which may give limits to size and placement), and then by looking at Article 7which has some detail about the do’s and don’ts of signs.You may find it helpful to look at other signs around town, or in the neighborhood where your sign will be sited.If you have questions, contact the Planning Department office at 781-316-3090.

You may enlist the services of a sign company to help with your application, but do not make a sign until you have received your permit. When you have a design you like, and it satisfies the guidelines in Zoning Articles 2 and 7, you may make application for a permit.You must complete the form you obtained from the Building Inspector and submit it with descriptive material of your sign.The descriptive material must include:

  • Clear, COLOR picture of the sign as it will appear.
  • The dimensions of the sign, and the lettering
  • Thematerial(s) which the sign will be constructed from
  • Any lighting and wiring information
  • The positioning and method of mounting on building or site for display

You will need 2 sets of the descriptive material listed above – one for the Building Inspector, and one for the Planning Department.

Your application will be forwarded to the Planning Department for review. The more information you are able to provide, the better the Planning Department will be able to review your sign request.While the Department may take up to 14 days for this process, the usual turn-around time is 1-5 days.When the Planning Department has reviewed your sign, your application will be returned to the Building Inspector.That office will review your application, and assess a fee.The Building Inspector will give you a permit.

Now you are ready to have your sign built and installed!

In some cases signs larger or in greater number than allowed in the district may be allowed by special permit (see Section 7.09 of the Zoning Bylaw).The special permit process requires a public hearing and the proposal is evaluated in terms of the architecture of the building and the use at the location.The special permit process is longer, and may take 3-6 weeks.


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