2013 - 2014 LEGISLATURE
June 14, 2013 - Introduced by Senators Tiffany,
Farrow, Hansen and Grothman,
cosponsored by Representatives
Honadel, Ballweg, Bernier, Brooks, Doyle,
Jacque, Kolste, T. Larson, LeMahieu, A. Ott, Ripp, Spiros, Stone,
Thiesfeldt, Weatherston and Bies. Referred to Committee on
Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs.
1An Act to repeal
84.305 (1) (cm), 84.305 (5) (ar), 84.305 (5) (d) 2. and 84.305 (5) 2
(e); to amend
84.305 (1) (i), 84.305 (3) (g), 84.305 (3) (h), 84.305 (4), 84.305 (5) 3
(a) and 84.305 (5) (d) 1.; and to create
84.305 (1) (am), 84.305 (5) (d) 4. and 4
84.305 (5) (f) of the statutes; relating to: maintenance and removal of
5vegetation obstructing the view of outdoor advertising signs along highways
6under 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 that, for maintenance
purposes, are under its jurisdiction, which are generally state trunk highways
(including interstate highways) but do not include connecting highways. DOT must
provide for the care and protection of trees and other roadside vegetation. 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. Current law generally
prohibits a person from cutting, trimming, removing, or planting a tree or other
vegetation within the right-of-way of a state trunk highway without DOT's consent.
The federal Highway Beautification Act requires states to restrict advertising
along interstate and federal-aid primary highways, which includes state trunk
highways and connecting highways, and current state law incorporates these
requirements. Current law prohibits, with certain exceptions, the erection or
maintenance of outdoor advertising signs (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 commercial areas.
Under current law, DOT administers a permit system for the maintenance and
removal by sign owners of vegetation obstructing the view of signs along state trunk
highways, including interstate highways. With limited exceptions, DOT issues
permits to sign owners for the trimming or removal of vegetation in the highway
right-of-way if, for a distance of 500 continuous feet within the 1,000-foot distance
motorists travel immediately before reaching the sign, the vegetation obstructs the
view of any portion of the face of the sign. A permit authorizes the sign owner, or a
third-party contractor employed by the sign owner, to trim or remove obstructing
vegetation to the extent necessary to eliminate the obstruction and restore an
unobstructed view of the sign for a distance of 500 continuous feet along the highway.
A permit must specify the vegetation or the portion of the highway right-of-way to
which the permit applies. A permittee that removes vegetation with a diameter of
four inches or more must plant replacement vegetation to compensate for the
vegetation removed. DOT must determine where the replacement vegetation is to
be planted, but it must be planted in the highway right-of-way within ten miles of
the location where the vegetation was removed.
This bill eliminates the requirement that a permittee that removes vegetation
with a diameter of four inches or more must plant replacement vegetation. Instead,
the bill requires the permittee to compensate DOT $140, adjusted annually for
inflation, for each tree removed that has a diameter of four inches or more. The
permittee must retain a certified arborist to determine the number of qualifying
trees removed, for purposes of calculating payment to DOT.
The bill also specifies that a permit for the trimming or removal of vegetation
applies with respect to a sign erected along the highway on the opposite side of the
direction of travel if the sign face is visible and intended to be viewed from the
direction of travel (known as a "cross-vista" sign).
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:
84.305 (1) (am) of the statutes is created to read:
(am) "Invasive species" has the meaning given in s. 23.22 (1) (c) and, 3
in addition, means species not indigenous to Wisconsin including hybrids, cultivars,
subspecific taxa, and genetically modified variants whose introduction causes or is 2
likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health, and also 3
includes individual specimens, seeds, propagules, and any other viable life-stages 4
of such species.
84.305 (1) (cm) of the statutes is repealed.
84.305 (1) (i) of the statutes is amended to read:
(i) "Viewing zone" means, with respect to a sign, the area 8
commencing at the point on the main-traveled way of the highway nearest the sign 9for the direction of travel for which the sign face is oriented
and extending, in a 10
direction opposite of the direction of travel in the nearest through traffic lanes of the
11main-traveled way from which the sign face is visible and intended to be viewed
, in 12
a line along the highway parallel to the highway
pavement edge for a distance of 13
84.305 (3) (g) of the statutes is amended to read:
(g) A permit issued under this section may not authorize the 16
permittee to clear-cut any highway right-of-way. The permit authorizes the 17
permittee to trim or remove only the vegetation specified in the permit, or only 18
vegetation within the area of the right-of-way specified in the permit, in accordance 19
with the terms of the permit. All trimming of vegetation authorized under a permit 20
shall be performed in compliance with applicable standards of the American 21
National Standards Institute, but if the trimming cannot be accomplished in 22
compliance with these standards, the vegetation may be removed and replaced
provided in sub. (5).
84.305 (3) (h) of the statutes is amended to read:
(h) All trimming and removal of vegetation under a permit issued 2
under sub. (2), and all planting of vegetation under sub. (5),
shall be conducted within 3
the hours of the day and days of the week specified by the department in the permit.
84.305 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
Each permit issued under this section shall authorize the permittee 6
to employ 3rd-party contractors, including any arborist or landscape contractor, to 7
perform work authorized under the permit. Each permit issued under this section
8shall require the permittee to retain a certified arborist for the purposes specified in
9sub. (5) (d).
A permittee shall be responsible for any such work performed by a 10
contractor on behalf of the permittee that is not authorized by the permit as if the 11
work were performed directly by the permittee.
84.305 (5) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Subject to par. (ar), each Each
permit issued under this section 14
shall require a permittee that removes any tree with a diameter of 4 inches or more 15
as measured at 3 feet from the ground, or any other vegetation with a diameter of 4
16inches or more, to plant comparable replacement vegetation
to compensate the
for all such vegetation trees
removed, in compliance with the 18
requirements under pars. (d) and (e) (f)
84.305 (5) (ar) of the statutes is repealed.
84.305 (5) (d) 1. of the statutes is amended to read:
(d) 1. In planting replacement vegetation under par. (a), For each
22permit issued under sub. (2), a certified arborist retained by
the permittee shall 23
determine the diameters number
trees with a diameter of 4 inches or more, as 24
measured at 3 feet from the ground, and of all other vegetation with a diameter of
254 inches or more,
that was are to be
removed and shall calculate the sum total of these
1diameters for each category of vegetation, such as for trees, for shrubs, and for
In calculating the sum
of these diameters, the permittee number of
4trees under subd. 1., a certified arborist
shall not include in the calculation the
any vegetation that was dead, diseased, or determined to be an invasive 6
species at the time of its removal.
84.305 (5) (d) 2. of the statutes is repealed.
84.305 (5) (d) 4. of the statutes is created to read:
(d) 4. In determining whether a tree with multiple leaders has a 10
diameter of 4 inches or more, as measured at 3 feet from the ground, for purposes of 11
calculating the total number of trees under subd. 1., a certified arborist shall consider 12
only the diameter of the tree's largest leader.
84.305 (5) (e) of the statutes is repealed.
84.305 (5) (f) of the statutes is created to read:
(f) 1. A permittee shall compensate the department $140, as adjusted 16
under subd. 2., for each tree removed under a permit, as calculated by the certified 17
arborist retained by the permittee according to the method specified in par. (d).
2. Annually, beginning on July 1, 2015, the department shall adjust the fee 19
under subd. 1. by a percentage that is equal to the percentage change in the U.S. 20
consumer price index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average, as determined by 21
the bureau of labor statistics of the U.S. department of labor, for the 12-month period 22
ending on December 31 of the previous calendar year. However, the department may 23
not adjust the fee under subd. 1. to an amount that is less than $140.
(1) This act first applies to permits for which applications to the department 2
of transportation were submitted to the department on May 19, 2012.