BPDA proposing zoning code changes for digital signage

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a public meeting on Jan. 27 regarding a recommended adjustment in permitted times for operation of digital signs in the city.
Mark McGonagle of the BPDA said that right now, digital signs are allowed from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., but the BPDA is proposing to change that window to 6 a.m. to midnight. McGonagle said that the BPDA received feedback from some sign operators who requested that their signs be able to be on beginning at 6 a.m.
“We do feel that that hour from 6 to 7 [a.m.] is okay, as the impacts are minimal,” McGonagle said, adding that they “thought it best to take off some of the later hours.”
The other change proposed would be to remove the language in the Boston Zoning Code that says “The Board of Appeal shall grant a conditional use permit for an Electronic Sign, subject to the provisions of Article 6, only if the electronic sign:” and replacing it with “The Board of Appeal shall grant a conditional use permit or variance for an Electronic Sign, subject to the provisions of Article 6 or Article 7, only if the electronic sign:”
McGonagle said the the changes would allow a sign operator to enter into a license agreement with the city regarding things like the hours and illumination level of the sign.
“It’s a pretty simple change,” McGonagle said, adding that the language is just draft language “that we stand by.” He said it still has to be looked at by the legal team before it can go before the BPDA board for a vote to send it to the Zoning Commission for approval.
McGonagle also said that he believes existing signs would be grandfathered in by their current agreements, and if there are signs in a particular district, such as the Theatre District, their operators can put in comments justifying different operating hours.
The BPDA will be taking comments “at the very least for a week,” McGonagle said. He said that while they are “not trying to rush anything through,” there is no set required comment period time for this change like there is for a development project.
He said the next steps depend on comments received, but they “look to move forward with these recommendations.”
If there is no major opposition to these changes, McGonagle said they will take the recommendations to the BPDA board within the next month for a petition to send it to the Zoning Commission, who can approve the changes.
Comments and questions regarding these changes may be directed to Mark McGonagle at [email protected]

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