Signs / Permits / COs

Opening a Business

Are you thinking about opening a business in Madison? The fist step is to talk with Lisa Ellis, Director of Business Development. Lisa is here to support the businesses in town and to advocate on their behalf. It is also helpful to meet with Lisa so she can help you fill out the various forms.

Finding a Location

You found a space that you think will work for you. What’s Next? The town has zoning regulations that control the type of business that can open in a particular location, so we need to determine if you can open your business in that location. To do that, you must file a Zoning Permit Application.

Zoning Permit Application

Applications are available in Fran Boardman’s Office (Planning/Zoning) or online. You will need to follow these steps:

  1. Complete a Zoning Permit Application (PDF) with a $50.00 fee. Include a simple diagram of the inside of the space along with a survey of the property. Any survey from your Landlord that represents current conditions is acceptable. Please let us know if this is an issue before going to the expense of obtaining a new one.
  2. For temporary sign permits, a Zoning Permit Application, and signage addendum, requires a fee of $25.00. Permanent signage requires the same Zoning Permit Application and signage addendum with a fee of $100.00. 
This information should be brought to Fran Boardman, the Borough's Administrative Official for Planning and Zoning. We suggest that you fill out the Zoning Permit Application before signing a lease, contact Fran Boardman if additional information is needed.

Note: Applications that represent a significant change in use (example, retail to food) or a significant intensification of use (small book store to 24 hour Barnes & Noble) may be required to go before the Planning Board/Zoning Board review.

Approved Zoning Application

Your Zoning Permit Application was approved by the Zoning Officer (or you received site plan approval from the Planning Board) and you signed a lease.

The next step is to obtain Continuing Certificate of Occupancy (CCO). Please visit Fran Boardman at the Planning/Zoning office and pay the appropriate fee. Once the fee is paid, please contact Captain Ed Nunn, Jr, our Fire Official, at 973-245-3494 to arrange for an inspection. You MUST obtain both a Zoning Permit approval letter AND a CCO before opening your business.

Other Steps

The following steps may or may not be required, depending on your particular business.

Sign Permits

If you would like to have any type of sign, then you must complete a Sign Permit Form (PDF). The permit form is also available in Fran Boardman's Planning/Zoning Office. The Sign Permit fee is $50.00 for temporary signage and $100.00 for permanent signage.

You cannot hang a sign on the building without a permit.

Signs are first reviewed for code compliance. After the Borough determines that the sign is legal and fits within the regulations of the code, the sign is reviewed by the Sign & Facade Committee of the Downtown Development Commission. Review by the Sign and Facade Committee is mandatory, but you are not required to incorporate the suggestions of the Committee into your sign.

Having said that, the committee is an excellent resource and may help you create a more effective sign that fits within the proper aesthetics in town. As such, we strongly suggest you contact the S&F Committee during the design process.

The sign will also be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), if the space is in the historic district (the district is denoted in green on this map). The HPC uses an article from the National Alliance of Historic Preservation Commissions to help guide you in determining signage impacts in the Historic District. This article can be found here.

Getting signs reviewed and approved can take time. Please keep in mind that your sign will be up for years and as such it is important to have the best sign possible.

Sign Permit Submission Requirements

  1. A completed Zoning Permit Application (PDF) with payment,
  2. A completed Sign Permit Application Addendum (PDF). Information on permitted sign size, illumination, location and other regulations can be found by visiting Chapter 195-34 and Schedule IV of the Borough's Land Use Code. Please include information on the illumination of the sign with your application. Cut sheets of new lighting fixtures will suffice. Or if you are using the existing lighting, a note stating such is all that is needed.
  3. Clear, high resolution, full color digital images of the sign(s) superimposed on the building site so as to show the exact location of the signage. If possible, please use Pantone Color reference codes to help identify colors more precisely. The images should be emailed to Fran Boardman.
  4. A letter from your landlord giving you permission to install the proposed signage.
  5. If the permit is for a Sandwich Board Sign, then the applicant must also provide a Certificate of Insurance with a minimum $500,000 liability coverage to the Borough, listing the Borough of Madison as an Additional Insured. This Certificate must be re-issued to the Borough on a yearly basis.
  6. Sign Permit Fee of $100.
This information should be delivered to Fran Boardman, the Borough's Administrative Official for Planning and Zoning. The Zoning Officer has 10 business days to respond to the application.

Construction Permits

If you are doing any construction at the location, you must visit the Construction Office and file for permits. Not sure? You can call Russ Brown at 973-593-3064.

It is extremely important to make sure that you follow the permitting process and get permits for all renovations including minor plumbing, electrical and construction.

Health Department Permit

If you are handling food in any way, or even selling prepackaged food, you must file for a Health Department Permit. Please contact the Health Department at 973-593-3079. The Health Department is located at 28 Walnut Street.

Sidewalk Dining

If you are a food establishment and wish to have sidewalk dining, then you must fill out an annual permit in the Clerk's Office.

Other State or Regulatory Approvals

Depending on your particular business, you may be required to obtain other approvals.