Signage for Businesses

Thank you for choosing to do business in Montclair!

Signage regulations for commercial businesses are contained within the Township's Zoning Ordinance.  There are three steps to signage review and installation.

  • Step 1 - Zoning Compliance: The first phase is Zoning Compliance to identify the permitted type of sign, sign size, placement, location, etc.
  • Step 2 - Historic Review: Second, the business owner should identify whether the business is located within one of the Township's four historic commercial districts.  If the business is located in one of these districts, approval by the Historic Preservation Commission must be granted prior to installation of the signage.  NOTE: This excludes sidewalk signs, as these are temporary and NOT affixed to the building.
  • Step - 3 Building Permit: Finally, a building permit should be obtained for the installation of the signage, if needed.

Please use the links below to view more specific information on each of the above phases.  Should you have any questions on Zoning Compliance or Historic Review, please contact the Department of Planning & Community Development.  For Building Permit questions, please contact the Building Office.

Step 1 - Zoning Compliance

Below is a general listing of permitted signs in commercial districts under the Township Zoning Ordinance.  To view the complete signage code of permitted signs in non-residential districts, click here.

Wall-Mounted Business Signs

  • Businesses are permitted to install wall-mounted business signs. 
  • The signs are to be installed only on public facing facades (facing a public street or public parking area) and must be installed within the confines of the portion of the building within which the business is located. 
  • Signs are to be mounted flat to the face of buildings; the painting of signs directly onto buildings is not permitted.  
  • The maximum permitted square footage of a sign is equal to the width of the storefront: i.e., a 12 foot wide storefront can have a maximum sign area of 12 sq. ft.
  • The maximum permitted height of a sign is 24 inches; except for the portion of a wall sign containing logos where the height may be 30 inches

Sign Illumination

  • Only externally illuminated signs or halo illuminated signs are permitted. 
  • Internally illuminated signs (such as light boxes with sign faces design to allow light to shine through) are prohibited.
  • The light source of illuminated signs cannot be visible.
  • No other illumination is permitted including light bulbs (singly or in combination, used as an attraction device); strobe lights; black (i.e., ultraviolet) lights; string lights; flashing or moving lights of any kind; or similar uses of illumination as attraction devices.

Window Signs

  • Window signs are only permitted in storefront windows, fronting a public street or public parking area, of the referenced business.
  • The maximum permitted area coverage of window signs is 20% of each window.
  • Neon signs, such as "OPEN" signs, are permitted in windows and are subject to and included in the calculation of the 20% maximum coverage requirement.
  • All windows must remain transparent and may not be covered by opaque material, with the exception of the window sign area.

Sidewalk Signs

  • Prior to placement of a sidewalk sign, a Zoning Permit application, accompanied by proof of business insurance listing the Township as an additional insured party, is to be filed with the Department of Planning & Community Development.
  • Sidewalk signs are to be A-frame style and constructed of wood or metal.  Sidewalk signs are to be no more than 2 feet in width and 3 feet in height.
  • Sidewalk signs must be placed to maintain a 5-foot unobstructed sidewalk path for pedestrians.
  • Sidewalk signs may only be located in front of the referenced business and must be removed and stored when the referenced business is closed.

Step 2 - Historic Review (If Needed)

Certain properties, located within historic areas, may require a Historic Review.  Properties not located within the following historic areas, may proceed to Step 3 - Building Permit.

There are four Local Historic Districts in the Township which include commercial districts.  These districts area as follows:

  • Pine Street: 29-65 (ODD Only) Glenridge Avenue, 6-14 Baldwin Street
  • Town Center: Bloomfield Avenue between the Montclair/Glen Ridge Border and Valley Road, 3-76 Church Street, 1-30 Park Street, South Park Street, 1-23 Midland Avenue, 209-229 Glenridge Avenue, 1-30 South Fullerton Avenue, 1-20 Lackawanna Plaza
  • Upper Montclair: Valley Road between Northview Avenue and Oakwood Avenue; 218-249 Lorraine Avenue and 185-270 Bellevue Avenue
  • Watchung Plaza: All addresses on Watchung Plaza, 98-106 & 107-127 Watchung Avenue, 252-256 Park Street and 42-50 Fairfield Street

Within these historic commercial districts, as required under Montclair Code 347-136A(5), businesses are required to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission prior to any exterior modifications, including change in existing, or addition of new, signage and awnings.  All proposed signage for review must also conform to the Zoning requirements.  Please note that Sidewalk Signs are excluded from Historic Review as they are not affixed to the building.

The Historic Preservation Commission has adopted Design Guidelines for Signage, which provides guidance on signage installations in these historic districts.  The signage guidelines are available for download here.

The Application for a Certificate of Appropriateness can be downloaded here.  Please file the completed application with the Department of Planning & Community Development.  You may also contact the Department with any questions regarding Historic Review.

Step 3 - Building Permit

Following completion of zoning compliance and historic review, business seeking to install compliant and approved signage may proceed to obtain building permits from the Building Office.

Please contact the Building Office to complete the permit process.