You’ve chosen a sign company, worked with them to design your sign, and paid your deposit. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for them to make and install your beautiful new sign, right? Not so fast.
Long Island is only made up of two counties, but within each county every town and village has set in place widely different regulations regarding signage. Almost all new or updated exterior signage requires some kind of permit, and navigating the process can be daunting. Here are five important things you need to know about permits before you even start designing.
- Permits are required for good reason. Of course we wish we could make you the biggest, most colorful sign on the street to get attention for your business. But if everyone tried to do that the streets would be a big cluttery mess, and likely a safety hazard as well. Every single town and village on Long Island has their own disparate set of sign codes, and they’re all in place for different reasons. They may want a main street to have uniformity of design. They certainly want to ensure that flashing, moving, or brightly lit signs aren’t hazardous to passing drivers. They need to protect pedestrians by guaranteeing that the signage is constructed well, illuminated safely, and installed securely to avoid accidents. They can’t allow one business to have an enormous sign that dwarfs all the others in the area.
- Neglecting a permit can be costly. Let’s be honest, no one wants to have the town dictate to them how they should and should not market their business, much less pay for that restriction via permit fees. And there are plenty of fly-by-night sign companies that will happily bypass the process for you. But what is the cost for neglecting a permit? If the town or village code enforcement officer notices your new sign and discovers it has no permit, you will certainly be receiving a fine. If you pay the fine and attempt to file for the permit after the fact, you may learn that something about your sign is out of code and you’ll have to remove it and start all over again. If you ignore the fine, your town or village could inflict even harsher penalties. The risk isn’t worth the initial savings.
- Permit applications are time consuming. Not only that, they require a lot of technical structural and electrical information that you may not have. It takes time to gather all the information from all the different sources, procure the required signatures — including notarization — and deliver the permit package to the town. It may even be necessary to attend an in-person meeting of the town’s Architectural Advisory Committee, which are generally held in the evenings. If the permit is deemed to require a variance, that will involve even more time and paperwork that you may not be able to dedicate.
- DENIED! Speaking of variances, permits can be denied for a huge variety of reasons both big and small. Believe us when we say sometimes the reasons can seem painfully small. But the town has the final decision power. So if a spec needs to be updated in more detail, or a mockup drawing needs a different angle, or you suddenly need very specific paint chips to show color, there’s no getting around it. It can sometimes take multiple rounds of permit applications before permission is granted for a sign. Patience and tenacity are key.
- So why bother? The fifth and most important thing you need to know about permitting is that a permitting professional can take all this aggravation off your hands and get the permit approved efficiently. We know where to find the applicable town codes so the sign has the best chance of being approved the first time around. We have the technical know-how to create a polished permit package that has clear details the town needs. We take the time to compile all the supplemental documents, procure the signatures, and submit everything on your behalf. If it’s required for someone to attend the review board meeting in person, we’ll handle that as well. And in the case where a variance is necessary to get special permission for a sign that might otherwise be denied, we’ll walk through the process with you to completion.
It’s everyone’s goal to make sure your business gets the attention it needs to thrive. Signwave can help you through the signage process from beginning to end, including permitting, so you can get back to building your business — only now with a beautiful new sign.
And if you’re an out-of-state sign company looking to have an installation done locally, we’re here for you as well. We can procure all the permits for your local customer’s signage and do the installation too.
Don’t let the permit process intimidate you. Call Signwave and we’ll take the hassle off your hands.