Pursuant to authority contained in ss. 84.106
, Stats., the department of transportation adopts the following rules to apply to signs along and visible from the controlled highways in Wisconsin. Section 84.30
, Stats., and these rules apply to the interstate system, federal aid primary or national highway system, and the Great River Road established under 23 USC 148
, which are referred to herein as "controlled highways." These rules are so closely associated with the Wisconsin Statutes, and make such extensive reference to s. 84.30
, Stats., that it is essential to refer to both these rules and the law in order to apply the controls. This chapter shall be interpreted consistently with the requirements of the 23 USC 131
federal regulations related to outdoor advertising control at 23 CFR Part 750
, the agreements between the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. federal highway administration dated June 9, 1961 and March 28, 1972, and with regulations and policies of the U.S. department of transportation implementing a national scenic byways program under 23 USC 162
Trans 201.01 Note
Note: The 1961 Agreement involved application of the Federal Bonus Act (part of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1958), P.L. 85-381; the 1972 Agreement involves application of the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965, P.L. 89-285.
Trans 201.01 History
Cr. Register, September, 1972, No. 201
, eff. 10-1-72; am. Register, October, 1976, No. 250
, eff. 11-1-76; am. Register, May, 1977, No. 257
, eff. 6-1-77; renum. from Hy 19.001 and am., Register, July, 1980, No. 295
, eff. 8-1-80; am. Register, April, 2001, No. 544
, eff. 5-1-01; CR 04-057
: am. Register February 2005 No. 590
, eff. 3-1-05.
The words and phrases defined in s. 84.30 (2)
, Stats., have the same meaning in this chapter unless a different definition is specifically provided. In this chapter:
"Back-to-back", "side-by-side","bottom-on-top" and "V-shaped" signs means signs which are physically contiguous and which share a common structure, in whole or in part, or are located not more than 15 feet apart at their nearest point in cases of "back-to-back" or "V-shaped" signs.
A sign shall be presumed to be designed, erected or intended to be read from the main-traveled way if an advertising message on the sign is readable from the main-traveled way by a person having normal visual acuity traveling at the speed limit.
"Grandfathered sign" means a sign that lawfully existed in a business area on March 18, 1972, and that does not conform to the size, spacing or lighting restrictions of s. 84.30 (4)
"Illegal sign" means a sign erected after March 18, 1972, without a permit, a sign that is erected or maintained in a manner that violates any requirement of a permit, this chapter, or s. 84.30
, Stats., a non-conforming sign that has lost its nonconforming status, or a grandfathered sign that has lost its grandfathered status.
"License" means a license to engage in the business of outdoor advertising.
A sign that lawfully existed on March 18, 1972, outside of a business area.
A sign that was lawfully erected after March 18, 1972, that subsequently did or does not conform to the requirements of s. 84.30
, Stats., or this chapter.
"Off-premises" or "off-property sign" means a sign that is not an on-premises sign.
"On-premises" or "on-property sign" means a sign at a business location advertising a business that is conducted on the property and that is located in the immediate vicinity of the business. "Immediate vicinity" in this subsection means the sign is within the area bounded by the buildings, driveways and parking areas in which the activity is conducted or within 50 feet of that area. "Immediate vicinity" does not include any area across a street or road from the area where the business is conducted or any area developed for the purpose of erecting a sign.
"Permit" means a permit issued by the department to erect or maintain a sign at a defined location under a specific paragraph of s. 84.30 (3)
"Primary highway" means any highway, other than an interstate highway, at any time officially designated as a part of the federal-aid primary system or national highway system by the department and approved by the appropriate authority of the federal government.
Trans 201.02 Note
See 23 USC 131
(t). The DOT Bureau of Planning, P. O. Box 7913, Madison, WI 53717 maintains a list of highways that are primary highways as defined herein. Information regarding which highways are primary highways under this section may also be obtained from the sign permit coordinator in any DOT region office.
"Visible" means the sign, or any part of the sign structure, can be seen from the main-traveled way of a highway by a person of normal visual acuity, regardless of whether the sign is designed, erected or intended to be read from the main-traveled way.
"Zoned" includes the establishment of districts without restrictions on use.
Trans 201.02 History
Cr. Register, October, 1976, No. 250
, eff. 11-1-76; renum. from Hy 19.005 and am. (2), Register, July, 1980, No. 295
, eff. 8-1-80; renum. (4) to be (13), cr. (intro.) and (4) to (12), Register, April, 2001, No. 544
, eff. 5-1-01.
The licensing requirement under s. 84.30 (10)
, Stats., applies to persons who erect or maintain on-property signs as well as to persons who erect or maintain off-premises advertising signs. Persons who erect or maintain signs for the purpose of advertising their own business are not subject to the licensing requirement. The licensing requirement does not apply to persons who erect 2 or less signs during the calendar year. Any person who violates the licensing requirement shall be required to forfeit not less than $500 nor more than $1000. Violations shall be referred to the proper district attorney for prosecution.
Trans 201.03 History
Cr. Register, October, 1976, No. 250
, eff. 11-1-76; renum. from Hy 19.006 and am., Register, July, 1980, No. 295
, eff. 8-1-80.
The department shall assign a unique identifier to each off-property sign in the state of Wisconsin. The identifier shall be assigned to a sign upon any of the following occurrences:
Addition of the sign to the sign database of signs maintained by the department.
(2) Database of sign owners.
The department shall maintain a sign database to track the name and address of the owner of each sign, and such other information related to the sign as the department considers appropriate.
Trans 201.035 Note
Note: The department shall use the address of record in this database for correspondence with a sign owner.
(3) Change of sign ownership.
Any person who acquires a sign shall provide the department with a notice containing all of the following information for the sign:
The name, address and telephone number of the person from whom the sign was acquired and the name of the person acquiring the sign.
The location of the sign, listing the name of the primary or interstate highway to which it is adjacent, the county and town in which the sign stands, the section number of the township in which the sign is located, the name, address and telephone number of the person owning the real property upon which the sign is located, and the distance of the sign from the centerline of the nearest crossroad or intersection.
The size of the sign measured in accordance with s. 84.30 (4) (a) 2.
, Stats. If the sign shape is not rectangular, a drawing showing the dimensions of the various triangles, circles, rectangles, and squares encompassing the entire sign shall be provided.
The height above ground level of the bottom edge of the sign face or any border or trim to the sign face.
(4) Annual fee notice.
The department shall mail an annual fee notice to the owner of record with the department of every off-premises sign within the state of Wisconsin that is subject to the requirement of paying a fee under sub. (9)
. All annual fee notices shall be considered delivered upon mailing to the owner of record indicated in the department's database of sign owners as of the first day of the month in which the notices are mailed. Annual fee notices may include a summary of information related to one or more signs and require owners to update or correct information at the time of paying any required fee. The department may require owners of signs not subject to the fee requirement of sub. (9)
to update or correct information from a summary of information with respect to any sign.
(5) Due date.
Payment of annual permit fees and responses to information requests are due 60 days from the date of mailing of notices by the department, or on such other date as indicated in the fee notice.
(6) Nonconforming signs.
Nonconforming signs for which the annual fee is not paid within 60 days of the due date shall be removed as abandoned signs. Payment of an annual fee may not be considered in determining whether a sign is subject to removal under the federal highway beautification act, the regulations promulgated thereunder, or s. Trans 201.10
(7) Permitted signs.
The permit for a sign shall expire upon the due date for payment unless the annual fee for the sign has been paid. Signs with expired permits are subject to removal 60 days from the due date specified in the notice. The department shall notify a sign owner that a sign is subject to removal under this section in accordance with s. 84.30 (11)
, Stats. The department may not issue a permit within any minimum required spacing limitations under ss. 84.30 (4) (c)
, Stats., s. Trans 201.05 (2) (d)
, of a sign with an expired permit until and unless that sign is removed.
Permit fees are non-refundable and may not be prorated.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, no annual fee may be assessed for any of the following:
Trans 201.035 Note
Service club and religious notices are limited to 8 square feet or less by s. Trans 201.05 (1) (f)
Except as provided in pars. (a)
, all off-property signs shall be assessed an annual fee of $35 per sign.
Any person may appeal the assessment of an annual fee under sub. (9)
by mailing a notice of appeal to the address provided on the notice of fee assessment within 15 days of the date the assessment is mailed.
The error or mistake alleged by appellant in the fee calculation made by the department.
Whether appellant contends the sign is an on-premises sign, official sign or notice, religious notice, service club notice, public utility sign, public service sign, farm sign, agricultural test plot sign, real estate sign, directional sign, nonconforming sign, grandfathered sign or other category of sign.
Payment in the amount of the annual fee assessed by the department shall be included with a notice of appeal. The department shall hold the payment in trust pending the outcome of the appeal.
Upon receipt of a notice of appeal with the required fee, the department shall investigate the matter and, if appropriate, amend the annual fee assessment for the sign and return any balance due appellant from the fees deposited under par. (c)
or impose any additional assessment required.
Appeals of decisions issued under par. (d)
may be made to the department of administration, division of hearings and appeals within 15 days of the date the decision is mailed to the appellant.
Trans 201.035 History
Cr. Register, April, 2001, No. 544
, eff. 5-1-01.
Clear vision areas.
Requirements for the preservation of unobstructed driver vision are established by ss. 86.191
and 84.30 (4) (b)
, Stats., and by these rules. No sign shall exist or remain in nonconformance with those requirements.
Trans 201.04 History
Cr. Register, September, 1972, No. 201
, eff. 10-1-72; renum. from Hy 19.02 and am., Register, July, 1980, No. 295
, eff. 8-1-80.
Directional and official signs.
The following standards apply to directional and official signs and notices which are visible from the main-traveled way of a controlled highway. These standards do not apply to directional and official signs erected on the highway right-of-way.
"Scenic area" means any area of particular scenic beauty or historical significance as determined by the federal, state, or local officials having jurisdiction thereof, and includes interests in land which have been acquired for the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of scenic beauty.
"Parkland" means any publicly owned land which is designated or used as a public park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge or historic site.
"Directional and other official signs and notices" includes only official signs and notices, public utility signs, service club and religious notices, public service signs, and directional signs.
"Official signs and notices" means signs and notices erected and maintained by public officers or public agencies within their territorial or zoning jurisdiction and pursuant to and in accordance with direction or authorization contained in federal, state, or local law for the purposes of carrying out an official duty or responsibility. Historical markers authorized by state law and erected by state or local government agencies or nonprofit historical societies may be considered official signs.
"Public utility signs" means warning signs, informational signs, notices, or markers which are customarily erected and maintained by publicly or privately owned public utilities, as essential to their operations.
"Service club and religious notices" means signs and notices, whose erection is authorized by law, relating to meetings of nonprofit service clubs or charitable associations, or religious services, which signs do not exceed 8 square feet in area.
"Public service signs" means signs located on school bus stop shelters, which signs:
Contain public service messages, which shall occupy not less than 50% of the area of the signs;
Are located on school bus shelters which are authorized or approved by city, county, or state law, regulation, or ordinance, and at places approved by the city, county, or state agency controlling the highway involved; and
May not exceed 32 square feet in area. Not more than one sign on each shelter shall face in any one direction.
"Directional signs" means signs containing directional information about public places owned or operated by federal, state, or local governments or their agencies; publicly or privately owned natural phenomena, historic, cultural, scientific, educational, and religious sites; and areas of natural scenic beauty or naturally suited for outdoor recreation, deemed to be in the interest of the traveling public.
Signs advertising activities that are illegal under federal or state laws or regulations in effect at the location of those signs or at the location of those activities.
Signs located in such a manner as to obscure or otherwise interfere with the effectiveness of an official traffic sign, signal, or device, or obstruct or interfere with the driver's view of approaching, merging, or intersecting traffic.
Signs which are erected or maintained upon trees or painted or drawn upon rocks or other natural features.