Wondering what the sign permit process is all about? Cut through the red tape by reading this quick FAQ guide.
Q: Is a permit required to display an exterior business sign in NJ, PA and NY?
A: Yes, a permit is required. Some owners may complain about the mandate, but the permit process does ensure your sign legally meets zoning and building ordinances as well as safety standards. You can be fined if you do not have a permit.
Q: How long does a sign permit process take?
A: Most townships typically take about two to four weeks. New Jersey law states the zoning department has ten business days to review the application, and the building department has 20 business days. Keep in mind, however, that this is a general rule.
Q: I need a business sign earlier. What do I do?
A: We can help you display temporary signage so customers can locate your business in the meantime. Because changes in sign size and location may occur, and sometimes do, you will want the permit to be approved before we begin fabricating the sign.
Q: What’s a typical process for a sign permit to be approved?
Unfortunately, the permit process varies widely among towns. Your neighbor next door can have different regulations due to zoning. Every town has different requirements and processes because it’s a local jurisdiction. And a town’s regulations evolve as the population grows or contracts. Most towns require zoning applications, but some do not.
Processes can be cumbersome and lengthy. For instance, some cities require a zoning application to be approved before a building and electrical application can be submitted. Some towns require a person to hand-deliver the paperwork and wait for a reference number before he can leave.
Q: When do you start the permit process?
A: We start once you approve the sign design.
Q: What’s needed for the permit process and what information do you need from me?
A: When you approve the sign design, we will contact you via email requesting the documents needed. Permits require all or some of these documents:
- the property owner’s signed approval
- a licensed surveyor’s site plan. The document is usually needed for freestanding signs. You can retrieve a copy from the property owner.
- sealed plans by a licensed engineer. This plan is required by many towns for certain types of signs.
- a special committee review application (such as planning board or special improvement district)
- a zoning application form
- a building and electrical application form. If the sign is illuminated, electrical approval is needed.
- your sign’s drawings, supplied by Loumarc Signs.
After we receive the items, we work diligently to complete the application. We hand-deliver it to the municipality via UPS.
Q: I’ve heard the process of granting permission to put up a business sign can be tricky, tiresome and aggravating. Is this true? Why?
A: Yes, it can be. The permits process usually proceeds in a timely fashion. With 25 years of extensive experience dealing with state laws and regulations regarding signs, we know to expect the unexpected. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, you may grow frustrated. Interpreting the ordinances is not always straightforward. Some ordinances are clear, concise and understandable for the general reader — but some are confusing. We review ordinances regularly, but occasionally, we learn we have misinterpreted the rules and need to alter the application.
The tiresome part? Although the ordinances are in written form, there is the matter of interpretation by the zoning officer. That’s not foreseeable. You’re at the whim of the zoning officer’s interpretation that may or may not be negotiable.
We help you avoid these aggravations by handling the permit process for you.
Q: What are some factors that can affect the permit process?
- Additional review processes. In some towns, review boards and committees such as historical commissions require previewing permit applications. The procedure is separate from the permit process and can extend the lead time. For instance, Somerville, New Jersey, has an architectural review board. During the board meeting, members preview the sign application and often provide comments, additions and changes to the proposal.
- Sign variance process. When a customer wants exceptions to the sign code, he may request a sign variance. The process has higher fees, is undertaken with an attorney and can take several months.
Q: Do you handle the permit process?
A: Yes, we do. And that’s a relief! By handling the permits on such a large scale, we’ve refined our system to present the information that meets board members’ preferences. We research your municipality’s ordinances to ensure your sign project meets all relevant requirements and codes. Armed with familiarity about a town’s requirements, we know how to complete applications thoroughly.
Because of an excellent rapport we’ve built upon in our trading area, you’ll experience a smoother process of obtaining permits in a timely fashion than if you did it yourself. We handle the laborious paperwork for you. When you work with Loumarc Signs, you only need to approve the design, pay for the sign, and relax.
Q: Once the sign is installed, what happens?
A: Our technicians post a permit placard. We call for the final inspection. Once you see the approved sticker from the town, you should take down the placard and file it with other important documents.