When Do You Need A Sign Permit in Westford?

Welcome to our latest "You Asked, Patch Answers"


This week’s question comes from a person in town that was concerned about the Westford Farmers’ Market being required to take down their sign (pictured) due to a violation of Westford’s sign bylaws.

Ultimately, the Selectmen voted unanimously on March 13 to allow the Market to keep their signs out until the end of the Winter at as they worked on a permanent permit.

However, the question remains: who doesn’t need to get a permit for a sign in Westford?

In Section 10.2 of the most recent version of the Westford zoning bylaws, signs are defined as “any letter, word, symbol, drawing, picture, design, device, article, or object that advertises, calls attention to or indicates any premises, person or activity whatever the nature of the material and manner of composition or construction, when the same is placed out of doors in view of the general public or placed indoors for exterior observance, except for temporary indoor paper signs advertising sales, promotions or special events.”

 So, anyone that goes to their computer printer and tapes up something to their window is okay if it’s temporary, but there are a few other situations where no permit is needed.

  • Government signs and other signs required for the protection of life and property (for example, speed limit signs, signs that say “High Voltage” near a power transformer, etc.)
  • Advertising signs smaller than 12 square feet in area that are up for less than 14 days.
  • One sign on a house smaller than two square feet indicating a profession
  • One sign on a property smaller than six square feet indicating sale, lease or rent of a home (this must be removed within a week of it being sold, leased or rented)
  • One sign on a property in a Commercially zoned district looking to advertise new construction (again, this must be removed within a week of the new buildings being leased out.)

Just about everything else needs a sign permit.

Article 31 at the 2011 Annual Town Meeting significantly changed Section 5.3 of the Zoning Bylaws, which deals with signs. Anyone interested in downloading the bylaws can do so for free from the town website.

Permits for signs are available at as well as online on a different page at the town website.

CORRECTION: 27 April, 12:37 p.m. - Warrant Article 31 of the 2011 Annual Town Meeting, not the 2012 Annual Town Meeting.

Derek April 20, 2012 at 02:05 PM
THanks for the link to the new bylaws...interesting reading. So....what does this do to the myriad yard sale signs that show up in summer? Section 5.3.8 (or so) says "10. No sign shall be posted on or attached to utility poles, trees nor attached to any parapet." Is the yard saler liable to the code enforcement officer? Is there any intent to actually enforce this rule, short of complaints? Just curious.


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