BERNARDSVILLE, NJ — The Bernardsville Borough Council last week introduced an ordinance permitting “OPEN” signs in the downtown business district.

Window signs would be allowed only in ground-floor windows, and the law specifies that the content of window signs in the downtown districts be limited to the name of the business, the date the business was established, a logo, and the street number of the premises.

Permanent signs may either be etched or painted on the window, but signs must not cover more than 20 percent of the area of the window.

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Restaurants may place a current menu of no greater than two pages sized 8.5 inches by 14 inches in its window; and the movie theater may place standard-sized movie posters in its window.

Businesses may have one illuminated “OPEN” sign of a maximum size of 12 inches by 36 inches in area.

“The folks in Olcott Square believe they are necessary,” Councilman Chad McQueen said, “because it’s very hard when driving through Olcott Square to see if the (businesses) are actually open or not. They believe that a single ‘OPEN’ sign is important.”

Councilman Thomas O’Dea said, “Indirect lighting on signs was seen as more desirable and more in keeping with the character of our downtown than than … O-P-E-N letters being lit up. … If we can find indirectly lit signs that look attractive and accomplish what the businesses want to accomplish, perhaps we can come up with a win-win solution.”

McQueen said that some business owners downtown are averse to the concept of directly illuminated signs, such as bright neon signs.

“The opposition was more about the aesthetics of it,” Mayor Mary Jane Canose said. “It doesn’t look like the kind of look we’re trying to go for with our new zoning.”

There will be a public hearing on the ordinance at the next virtual Borough Council meeting on Dec. 14.