2003 - 2004 LEGISLATURE
January 14, 2004 - Introduced by Representatives Ward, Nischke, Ladwig,
Gronemus, M. Lehman, Townsend, Hahn, Huebsch, Gielow, Suder,
Montgomery, F. Lasee, Seratti, J. Wood, Honadel, Van Roy, Albers,
McCormick, Gunderson, Freese, Musser, Krawczyk, Ainsworth and Vrakas,
cosponsored by Senators Kanavas, M. Meyer, Brown, Hansen and Schultz.
Referred to Committee on Transportation.
1An Act to create
86.03 (5m) of the statutes; relating to: removal of vegetation
2along highways under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for
maintenance of the highway right-of-way on highways under its jurisdiction (state
trunk highways). DOT must provide for the care and protection of trees and other
roadside vegetation, including suitable planting to prevent soil erosion and to
beautify the highways. DOT must also cut, trim, or remove, or allow others to cut,
trim, or remove, trees and other vegetation in order to provide safety to highway
users. DOT is also required to establish procedures for increasing the number of
trees planted on state trunk highway rights-of-way.
Current law also prohibits a person from cutting, trimming, removing, or
injuring any tree or other vegetation within the right-of-way of a state trunk
highway without the consent of DOT. With DOT's approval, an owner of land
adjoining a state trunk highway may plant and maintain trees and other vegetation
on the side of the highway within 10 feet of the owner's land, and these trees and
other vegetation may be cut or removed only by the owner or DOT.
The federal Highway Beautification Act requires states to restrict advertising
along interstate and federal-aid primary highways, which includes state trunk
highways, and current state law incorporates these requirements. Current law
prohibits, with certain exceptions, the erection or maintenance of outdoor
advertising signs within 660 feet of, or beyond 660 feet but visible (and erected for
the purpose of being visible) from, the main-traveled way of an interstate or
federal-aid primary highway. Exceptions to this prohibition include, with some
restrictions, signs advertising activities conducted on the property on which the
signs are located; signs located beyond 660 feet of the highway in urban areas; and
signs located within 660 feet of the highway in certain business, industrial, or
Under this bill, if a tree or other vegetation located in the right-of-way of a state
trunk highway (including any segment designated as a freeway or expressway)
prevents a motorist traveling on the highway at the posted speed limit from
continuously observing, for six uninterrupted seconds while the motorist's vehicle is
most directly in front of, any sign located on a business premises adjacent to the
highway right-of-way that advertises the business to motorists on the adjacent
highway or any outdoor advertising sign adjacent to the highway right-of-way, a
person who maintains a majority ownership interest in the business or in the sign
may trim or remove any obstructing tree or other vegetation located in the highway
right-of-way if all of the following requirements are met:
1. The person obtains a permit from DOT.
2. The person pays the cost of trimming or removing the obstructing tree or
other vegetation and of replacing any removed tree or vegetation.
3. If the person has removed any tree or other vegetation, the person replaces
the removed tree or vegetation with comparable vegetation.
4. No state funds are expended for the trimming, removal, or replacement of
any tree or other vegetation.
The bill requires DOT to issue permits to eligible applicants for the trimming
or removal of trees and other vegetation located in the rights-of-way of state trunk
highways. Each permit must specify the trees or vegetation or the portion of the
highway right-of-way to which the permit applies. DOT must grant or deny each
application for a permit within 30 days of receipt of the application.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB748, s. 1
86.03 (5m) of the statutes is created to read:
86.03 (5m) Trees and other vegetation blocking view of business or sign
(a) In this subsection, "vegetation" means any tree, shrub, hedge, or other foliage.
(b) Notwithstanding s. 80.01 (3) and any other provision of this section, if any 5
vegetation located in the right-of-way of any highway, including any freeway or 6
expressway designated under s. 84.295, under the jurisdiction of the department
prevents the operator of a vehicle traveling on such a highway at the posted speed 2
limit from continuously observing, for 6 uninterrupted seconds while the vehicle is 3
most directly in front of, any sign located on a business premises adjacent to the 4
highway right-of-way that advertises the business to motorists on the adjacent 5
highway or any sign specified under s. 84.30 adjacent to the highway right-of-way, 6
any person who maintains a majority ownership interest in the business or in the 7
sign may trim or remove any obstructing vegetation located in the highway 8
right-of-way if all of the following requirements are met:
1. The person obtains a permit from the department under par. (c).
2. The person pays for the cost of trimming or removing the obstructing 11
vegetation, including the cost of cleanup and disposal, and for replacing any removed 12
vegetation, including the cost of purchasing and planting the replacement 13
3. If the person has removed vegetation, the person replaces the removed 15
vegetation with comparable vegetation along the same highway right-of-way, 16
provided that the person may not locate replacement vegetation in a manner that 17
obstructs, or will obstruct in the foreseeable future, the view from the highway of 18
another existing sign identified in this paragraph.
4. No state funds are expended for the trimming, removal, or replacement of 20
vegetation under this paragraph.
(c) The department shall issue permits to eligible applicants for the trimming 22
or removal of vegetation located in a highway right-of-way under par. (b). Any 23
permit issued under this paragraph shall specify the vegetation or the portion of the
highway right-of-way to which the permit applies. The department shall grant or 2
deny an application for a permit within 30 days of receipt of the application.