On or after January 1, 1972, no person shall engage or continue to engage in the business of outdoor advertising in areas subject to this section without first obtaining a license therefor from the department. The fee for the issuance of a license or for the renewal thereof shall be $250 payable in advance. Each license shall remain in force until the next succeeding December 31 and may be renewed annually.
Application for license or a renewal thereof shall be made on forms to be furnished by the department, shall contain such information as the department requires and shall be verified under oath by the applicant or an authorized officer or agent. Renewal applications shall be filed on or before the December 1 preceding the expiration date. Upon receipt of an application containing all required information, in due form and properly executed, together with any bond required by par. (c)
and upon payment of the required license fee, the department shall issue a license to the applicant or renew the existing license.
No license to engage or continue to engage in the business of outdoor advertising shall be granted to any applicant who does not reside in this state or, in the case of a foreign corporation or foreign limited liability company not authorized to do business in this state until such applicant files with the department a bond payable to the state and with a surety approved by the attorney general, in the sum of $5,000 conditioned upon the licensee observing and fulfilling all applicable provisions of this section. Upon default thereof the department may enforce the collection of such bond in any court of competent jurisdiction. The bond shall remain in effect so long as any obligation of such licensee to the state remains unsatisfied.
The department may, after a hearing with 30 days' prior written notice to the licensee, revoke the license if the department finds that the licensee has knowingly made false statements in the application or is violating this section. Such revocation shall not become effective if within 30 days after written notice of the findings has been given to the licensee, he or she corrects such false statement or terminates any such violation.
Annual permit fee requirement.
The department may promulgate a rule requiring persons specified in the rule to pay annual permit fees for signs. The rule shall specify that no permit fee may be charged for an off-premises advertising sign that is owned by a nonprofit organization. If the department establishes an annual permit fee under this subsection, failure to pay the fee within 2 months after the date on which payment is due is evidence that the sign has been abandoned for the purposes of s. Trans 201.10 (2) (f)
, Wis. Adm. Code.
Any sign erected in an adjacent area after March 18, 1972, in violation of this section or the rules promulgated under this section, may be removed by the department upon 60 days' prior notice by registered mail to the owner thereof and to the owner of the land on which said sign is located, unless such sign is brought into conformance within said 60 days. No notice shall be required to be given to the owner of a sign whose name is not stated on the sign or on the structure on which it is displayed, or whose address is not stated thereon or is not on file with the department.
The department on behalf of the state is authorized and directed to seek agreement with the secretary of transportation of the United States acting under the provisions of 23 USC 131
, as amended, that the provisions of this section are in conformance with that federal law and provide effective control of outdoor advertising signs as set forth therein.
The department may accept any allotment of funds by the United States, or any agency thereof, appropriated to carry out the purposes of 23 USC 131
, as amended, from time to time. The department shall take such steps as are necessary from time to time to obtain from the United States, or the appropriate agency thereof, funds allotted and appropriated, under 23 USC 131
for the purposes of paying the federal government's 75 percent of the just compensation to be paid to sign owners and owners of real property under 23 USC 131
(g) and this section.
The department may promulgate rules deemed necessary to implement and enforce this section. The department shall promulgate rules to restrict the erection and maintenance of signs as to their lighting, size, number and spacing when such signs are visible from the highway but outside the adjacent area. The department shall by rule establish a priority system for the removal or relocation of all signs not specified in sub. (5) (d)
which fail to conform to the requirements of sub. (5)
Despite any contrary provision in this section no sign shall be required to be removed unless at the time of removal there are sufficient funds, from whatever source, appropriated and immediately made available to the department with which to pay the just compensation required and unless at such time the federal funds, required to be contributed to this state under 23 USC 131
have been appropriated and are immediately available to the state for the payment of compensation which is eligible for federal participation.
If any provision or clause of this section or application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the section which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are declared to be severable. If any portion of this section is found not to comply with federal law and federal billboard removal compensation that portion shall be void without affecting the validity of other provisions of the section.
All fees collected for the issuance of permits provided for under this section shall be paid into the transportation fund.
Hearings concerning sign removal notices under sub. (11)
or the denial or revocation of a sign permit or license shall be conducted before the division of hearings and appeals as are hearings in contested cases under ch. 227
. The decision of the division of hearings and appeals is subject to judicial review under ch. 227
. Any person requesting a transcript of the proceedings from the division of hearings and appeals shall pay the amount established by the division of hearings and appeals by rule for the transcript.
History: 1971 c. 197
; 1975 c. 196
; 1977 c. 29
, 1654 (1)
, (8) (a); 1977 c. 43
; 1977 c. 418
s. 924 (48)
; 1979 c. 90
; 1979 c. 154
; 1981 c. 347
; 1983 a. 92
; 1989 a. 56
; 1991 a. 316
; 1993 a. 16
; 1997 a. 27
; 1999 a. 9
; 2001 a. 109
; 2005 a. 149
; 2007 a. 20
; 2011 a. 32
; 2017 a. 232
See also ch. Trans 201
, Wis. adm. code.
This section is the exclusive remedy for determining just compensation for signs meeting the criteria of sub. (6). Compensation includes the value of the sign structure, leasehold value, and location, but it does not include attorney fees. Vivid, Inc. v. Fiedler, 219 Wis. 2d 764
, 580 N.W.2d 644
This section did not prevent the leaseholder of a sign subject to an administrative order for removal due to discontinuance of a legal nonconforming use from pursuing judicial review of the administrative review of the order under s. 227.52. Eller Media, Inc. v. Division of Hearings and Appeals, 2001 WI App 269
, 249 Wis. 2d 198
, 637 N.W.2d 96
Sub. (3) (a) provides 2 separate conditions. A sign must: 1) be required or authorized by law, and 2) comply with rules promulgated by the Department of Transportation that are no more restrictive than national standards. The “no more restrictive" language does not apply to the “required or authorized by law" condition. “Authorized by law" is a reference to whether a sign is authorized by a law other than this section and rules promulgated thereunder. Because there is no limitation on the source of other law, there is no reason why other law may not be a local zoning ordinance. Donaldson v. Town of Spring Valley, 2008 WI App 61
, 311 Wis. 2d 223
, 750 N.W.2d 506
The administrative and judicial review provided in sub. (18) is the exclusive procedure for challenging the legality of a sign after issuance of a removal order, even when the Department of Transportation has removed the sign. A determination under sub. (18) that a sign is legal is a necessary predicate to just compensation for the sign. The entire statutory scheme provides for a determination on the legality of a sign under sub. (18) and, if the ultimate determination is that the sign is legal, there is a procedure in subs. (7) and (8) for obtaining just compensation. This scheme adequately provides the means both to challenge a removal order on the ground a sign is legal and to obtain just compensation if that challenge succeeds. Lamar Central Outdoor, LLC v. DOT, 2008 WI App 187
, 315 Wis. 2d 190
, 762 N.W.2d 745
The phrase “brought into conformance” in sub. (11) could mean that a billboard must conform to the laws either: 1) as they applied to the circumstances when the permit issued; or 2) as they apply to current circumstances. Because the statute is ambiguous, the Department of Transportation is required to promulgate a new interpretation of the statute as a rule under s. 227.10. Lamar Central Outdoor, LLC v. Division of Hearings & Appeals, 2019 WI 109
, 389 Wis. 2d 486
, 936 N.W.2d 573
Persons in the business of erecting on-premise signs are subject to the licensing requirement of sub. (10) (a). 66 Atty. Gen. 295.
Outdoor sign regulation in Eden and Wisconsin. Larsen, 1972 WLR 153.
Vegetation obstructing view of outdoor advertising signs. 84.305(1)(am)
“Invasive species" has the meaning given in s. 23.22 (1) (c)
and, in addition, means species not indigenous to Wisconsin including hybrids, cultivars, subspecific taxa, and genetically modified variants whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health, and also includes individual specimens, seeds, propagules, and any other viable life-stages of such species.
“Sign" has the meaning given in s. 84.30 (2) (j)
, but also includes any sign that is attached to a building or similar structure, that is within 100 feet of a highway right-of-way, and that advertises activities conducted on the property on which it is located.
“Vegetation" means any tree, shrub, hedge, woody plant, or grass.
“Viewing zone" means, with respect to a sign, the area commencing at the point on the main-traveled way of the highway nearest the sign for the direction of travel for which the sign face is oriented and extending, in a direction opposite of the direction of travel of the main-traveled way from which the sign face is visible and intended to be viewed, in a line along the highway pavement edge for a distance of 1,000 feet.
Notwithstanding ss. 66.1037
, and subject to sub. (2m)
, upon application, the department shall issue permits to sign owners for the trimming or removal of vegetation that is located in the right-of-way of a highway under the jurisdiction of the department for maintenance purposes and that obstructs a sign if, within a distance of 500 continuous feet along any portion of the viewing zone, any portion of the face of the sign is not viewable because of an obstruction to sight by vegetation in the highway right-of-way.
The department may not issue a permit under this section authorizing the trimming or removal of vegetation obstructing the view of a sign if the department first collected a permit fee under s. 84.30 (10m)
for that sign within the immediately preceding 5 years. This paragraph does not apply with respect to a sign that is attached to a building or similar structure, that is within 100 feet of a highway right-of-way, and that advertises activities conducted on the property on which it is located.
The department may impose on a permit under this section any condition or restriction determined to be necessary or suitable by the department if the permit application seeks authorization for the trimming or removal of vegetation at or with respect to any of the following:
An archaeological site or site of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or band.
A location that is part of a known habitat of endangered species or threatened species under s. 29.604
The department may deny an application under this section for a permit for a sign for which the department has issued a removal order and the removal order was received by the sign owner prior to the department's receipt of the application.
Subject to pars. (d)
and subs. (2m) (b)
, and (6)
, a permit issued under this section authorizes the permittee to trim or remove obstructing vegetation to the extent necessary to eliminate the obstruction and provide an unobstructed view of a sign for 500 continuous feet within the viewing zone. A permit issued under this section shall specify the vegetation or the portion of the highway right-of-way to which the permit applies.
An application for a permit under this section shall specifically describe the work proposed by the applicant. The department shall grant or deny an application for a permit under this section, and notify the applicant of the department's decision, within 60 days of receipt of the application. If the department denies an application for a permit under this section, the department shall notify the applicant of reasons for the denial.
A permit issued under this section may not authorize trimming or removal of vegetation located within a municipality and within 10 feet of the nearest edge of the highway pavement without prior approval for the trimming or removal from the municipality.
A permit issued under this section may not authorize the permittee to clear-cut any highway right-of-way. The permit authorizes the permittee to trim or remove only the vegetation specified in the permit, or only vegetation within the area of the right-of-way specified in the permit, in accordance with the terms of the permit. All trimming of vegetation authorized under a permit shall be performed in compliance with applicable standards of the American National Standards Institute, but if the trimming cannot be accomplished in compliance with these standards, the vegetation may be removed as provided in sub. (5)
All trimming and removal of vegetation under a permit issued under sub. (2)
shall be conducted within the hours of the day and days of the week specified by the department in the permit.
A permit issued under this section may not authorize the permittee to trim or remove vegetation in the median of a divided highway.
Each permit issued under this section shall authorize the permittee to employ 3rd-party contractors, including any arborist or landscape contractor, to perform work authorized under the permit. Each permit issued under this section shall require the permittee to retain a certified arborist for the purposes specified in sub. (5) (d)
. A permittee shall be responsible for any such work performed by a contractor on behalf of the permittee that is not authorized by the permit as if the work were performed directly by the permittee.
Each permit issued under this section shall require a permittee that removes any tree with a diameter of 2 inches or more as measured at breast height to compensate the department for all such trees removed, in compliance with the requirements under pars. (d)
Each permit issued under this section shall require a permittee that removes vegetation to also remove the vegetation's stump, to grade level, and to dispose of all vegetation removed, including the stump, at a location away from the highway right-of-way.
For each permit issued under sub. (2)
, a certified arborist retained by the permittee shall determine the number of trees with a diameter of 2 inches or more, as measured at breast height, that are to be removed.
In calculating the total number of trees under subd. 1.
, a certified arborist shall not include any vegetation that was dead, diseased, or determined to be an invasive species at the time of its removal.
In determining whether a tree with multiple leaders has a diameter of 2 inches or more, as measured at breast height, for purposes of calculating the total number of trees under subd. 1.
, a certified arborist shall consider only the diameter of the tree's largest leader.
A permittee shall compensate the department $200, as adjusted under subd. 2.
, for each tree removed under a permit, as calculated by the certified arborist retained by the permittee according to the method specified in par. (d)
Annually, beginning on July 1, 2015, the department shall adjust the fee under subd. 1.
by a percentage that is equal to the percentage change in the U.S. consumer price index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average, as determined by the bureau of labor statistics of the U.S. department of labor, for the 12-month period ending on December 31 of the previous calendar year. However, the department may not adjust the fee under subd. 1.
to an amount that is less than $200.
The department shall have authority to supervise and determine how the work authorized under a permit issued under this section is carried out.
The department may impose any condition or restriction on a permit issued under this section that the department customarily imposes in connection with work performed on highway rights-of-way.
Nothing in this section prohibits a sign owner and the department from voluntarily negotiating for, and the department from authorizing without the issuance of a permit under this section, the trimming or removal of any vegetation in a highway right-of-way in order to provide an unobstructed view of a sign, except in situations where sub. (3) (d)
would apply if a permit were issued under this section. Nothing in this section restricts the department's authority with respect to departmental maintenance operations in the rights-of-way of highways under the department's jurisdiction.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the department under this section, or by the department's failure to act on an application within the time limits specified in this section, is entitled, upon request, to a contested case hearing before the division of hearings and appeals in the department of administration, and to judicial review thereof, in accordance with ch. 227
Regulation of junkyards. 84.31(1)(1)
Declaration of purpose; public nuisances.
In order to promote the public safety, health, welfare, convenience and enjoyment of public travel, to protect the public investment in public highways, to preserve and enhance the scenic beauty of lands bordering public highways, to attract tourists and promote the prosperity, economic well-being and general welfare of the state, it is declared to be in the public interest to regulate and restrict the establishment, operation and maintenance of junkyards in areas adjacent to interstate and primary highways within this state. All junkyards in violation of this section are declared public nuisances.
In this section:
“Automobile graveyard" means an establishment or place of business which is maintained, used, or operated for storing, keeping, buying or selling wrecked, scrapped, ruined or dismantled motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts. Ten or more such vehicles constitute an automobile graveyard.
“Illegal junkyard" means a junkyard which is established, expanded or maintained in violation of any statute or rule promulgated thereunder or local ordinance.
“Industrial activities" mean those activities generally recognized as industrial by local zoning authorities in this state, including scrap metal processors, except that none of the following activities shall be considered industrial:
Agricultural, forestry, ranching, grazing, farming and similar activities, including, but not limited to wayside fresh produce stands.
Activities normally or regularly in operation less than 3 months of the year.
Activities not visible from the main-traveled way.
Activities more than 300 feet from the nearest edge of the right-of-way.
Activities conducted in structures which are principally used for residential purposes.
“Interstate highway" means any highway at any time officially designated as a part of the national system of interstate and defense highways by the department and approved by the appropriate authority of the federal government.
“Junk" means any old or scrap metal, metal alloy, synthetic or organic material, or waste, or any junked, ruined, dismantled or wrecked motor vehicle or machinery, or any part thereof.
“Junkyard" means any place which is owned, maintained, operated or used for storing, keeping, processing, buying or selling junk, including refuse dumps, garbage dumps, automobile graveyards, scrap metal processors, auto-wrecking yards, salvage yards, auto-recycling yards, used auto parts yards and temporary storage of automobile bodies or parts awaiting disposal as a normal part of a business operation when the business will continually have like materials located on the premises, and sanitary landfills. The definition does not include litter, trash, and other debris scattered along or upon the highway, or temporary operations and outdoor storage of limited duration.
“Primary highway" means any highway, other than an interstate highway, at any time officially designated as part of the federal-aid primary system by the department and approved by the appropriate authority of the federal government.
“Scrap metal processor" means a fixed location at which machinery and equipment are utilized for the processing and manufacturing of iron, steel or nonferrous metallic scrap into prepared grades and whose principal product is scrap iron, scrap steel or nonferrous metal scrap for sale for remelting purposes.
“Screened" means hidden from view in a manner compatible with the surrounding environment.
“Unzoned industrial areas" mean those areas which are not zoned by state law or local ordinance, and on which there is located one or more permanent structures devoted to an industrial activity other than scrap metal processing or on which an industrial activity other than scrap metal processing, is actually conducted whether or not a permanent structure is located thereon, and the area along the highway extending outward 800 feet from and beyond the edge of such activity. Each side of the highway will be considered separately in applying this definition. All measurements shall be from the outer edges of the regularly used buildings, parking lots, storage or processing and landscaped areas of the industrial activities, not from the property lines of the activities, and shall be along or parallel to the edge or pavement of the highway.
“Zoned" includes the establishment of districts without restrictions on use.
“Zoned industrial area" means any area zoned industrial by a state law or local ordinance.
Junkyards; prohibition; exceptions.
No person may own, establish, expand or maintain a junkyard, any portion of which is within 1,000 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of any interstate or primary highway, except the following:
Those which are not visible from the main-traveled way of an interstate or primary highway.
Those which are screened so as not to be visible from the main-traveled way of an interstate or primary highway.
Those which are located in a zoned or unzoned industrial area.