From the City of Beverly:

Complete Sign Ordinance

Sign Definitions

Sign Sizes


Sandwich Board Sign Information

From the City of Beverly Planning Department (published April 29, 2008):

(see bottom for FAQs on Sandwich Board signs)

 The City has revised the local ordinances that regulate real estate and so-called “sandwich board” signs after receiving a string of resident complaints about the proliferation, safety, and aesthetics of some of these signs.  The rule changes may affect you if you are a realtor or business owner who places advertising signs on public sidewalks or on private property along public ways. 

The City will soon begin enforcing the new rules and fines of up to $100 per day per sign violation could be levied by the Building Inspector.  To avoid enforcement actions and fines,  follow the rules that are summarized below.

Real Estate signs:  Signs advertising real estate that is available for sale, rent or lease have always been limited to a maximum of one sign per property being sold/rented/leased.    The recent amendments did not change that, but one may now lawfully erect up to three (3) off-premise signs to advertise an “open house” event.  “Open house” signs can be put up no more than three (3) hours before the start of an open house and must be removed within an hour of the end of the event.

“Sandwich Board" signs:  Sandwich board signs include the A-frame signs often seen on public sidewalks. Despite their presence in the City, sandwich board signs were illegal until the recent amendments were made.  Recognizing that many businesses consider these signs to be a vital part of their advertising strategy, the City opted to allow these signs on public and private property but only after a permitting process and with the permission of the City Council.

The new rules regulate the size, construction, and placement of such signs and require review of the sign by the City’s Design Review Board as well as City Council authorization and proof of adequate liability insurance for the sign. 

The inexpensive wire-framed signs sometimes posted along roadways and in grass strips have always been and will continue to be illegal signs.  Whether placed on private or public property, these signs violate the Zoning Ordinance and erecting them subjects the owner to fines and other enforcement measures. 

For more information on signs, visit  The text of the entire sign ordinance can be viewed by clicking on the “Design Review Board” link under the Boards and Commissions heading.  Questions regarding the approval process for so-called “sandwich board” signs should be directed to the City Clerk’s Office at (978) 921-6000, extension 2325.


1.   Can I put a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk in front of my business?

Maybe.  If your business is not located in a residential zoning district and if it meets the requirements of the City ordinances, the Beverly City Council can grant a permit to allow the use of a sandwich board sign for your business.

        2.     Do I need a permit for a sandwich board sign, even if it is going to be placed on private property?

A City Council permit is needed in order to place any sandwich board sign on display, whether on private property or on public property (like a City sidewalk or grass strip).   Any sandwich board sign that has not been permitted by the City Council is illegal

3.   What is the permit process?

The permit process has two steps. 

Step One:  File an application and fee ($2 per square foot per side of sign) with the Beverly Design Review Board who will review your proposed sandwich board sign for design elements like colors, fonts, graphics and text.  The Design Review Board may propose suggestions to the applicant and will write a letter to the Beverly City Council offering their recommendations as to whether the proposed sign should be permitted.

Step Two:  File an application and fee ($50.00) with the City Clerk’s Office to request the required permit from the City Council.  The Council will review the application, supporting materials and the recommendation letter from the Design Review Board and determine if all of the regulations listed in Chapter 29-26 of the Beverly Zoning Ordinance and Sections 12-271 through 12-273 of the City Ordinances have been met.  If approved by the City Council, the City Clerk will issue you a permit and authorization sticker, which will be valid until March 31st of the following year

4.   What size sign am I allowed?

A sandwich board sign may not exceed two (2) feet in width and three and one half (3 ½) feet in height.  The sandwich board may be two sided and must meet certain other criteria. 

The detailed regulations for sandwich board signs can be found in the Beverly Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 29, Section 26) which can be found on the City of Beverly website at  From the main page, click on the “Boards and Commissions” link and then choose “Design Review Board.”  Alternatively, call the Building Department at (978) 921-6000, ext. 2403.

5.   Where should my sign be placed?

Your sandwich board sign must be located in front of, and within twelve (12) feet of the main entrance to the establishment it advertises.  The placement of the sandwich board sign must be such that there is a minimum of thirty-six (36) inches of unobstructed sidewalk clearance between it and any other building or obstruction. Ultimately, the sign must be placed in the location authorized by the City Council when it issues the permit.

6.   When can I display my sandwich board sign?

After authorization by the City Council, the sign may only be displayed during the establishment’s hours of operation and must be brought in during any declared snow emergency.

7.   How do I apply for the required permits?

Design Review Board application forms, instructions and meeting information can be found at  From the main page, click on the “Boards and Commissions” link and then choose “Design Review Board.”  Alternatively, call the Planning Department at (978) 921-6000, ext. 2344.

 Application forms and filing instructions for the City Council permit can be found at  From the main page, click on “City Government” and choose “City Clerk”.

8.   Are there any guidelines, other than the Zoning Ordinance, that the Design Review Board refers to for signs?

The City of Beverly has Downtown Design Guidelines.  Guidelines for signage are one of the many focuses of this document.  An electronic version of the Design Guidelines can be found on the Design Review Board webpage.

*These guidelines are for informational purposes only.  Please refer to the Beverly Zoning Ordinance, Section 29-26 “Signs” and Section 12-271 through 12-273 (inclusive) of the City Ordinances for the complete regulations.  The Zoning Ordinance is posted online on the Beverly Planning Department website.  The City Ordinances are posted online on the City Clerk Office’s website.