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2011 - 2012 LEGISLATURE
August 9, 2011 - Introduced by Representatives Honadel, Bies, Brooks, Kestell,
LeMahieu, Mursau, Nerison, Nygren, Spanbauer, Staskunas, Stone,
Strachota, Tiffany, Van Roy, Vruwink, Weininger
and Wynn, cosponsored by
Senators Grothman, Darling, Lasee, Moulton, Olsen and Schultz. Referred
to Committee on Transportation.
AB216,1,9 1An Act to repeal 84.305 (1) (c), 84.305 (1) (d), 84.305 (1) (f), 84.305 (1) (g), 84.305
2(1) (j), 84.305 (1) (k), 84.305 (2) (a) 1., 84.305 (2) (a) 2., 84.305 (2) (a) 4., 84.305
3(2) (b), 84.305 (3) (c), 84.305 (3) (f), 84.305 (5) (b) and 84.305 (5) (c); to renumber
4and amend
84.305 (3) (e); to consolidate, renumber and amend 84.305 (2)
5(a) (intro.) and 3.; to amend 84.305 (1) (h), 84.305 (3) (a), 84.305 (3) (b), 84.305
6(3) (d), 84.305 (3) (g), 84.305 (5) (a), 84.305 (6) and 84.305 (7); and to create
784.305 (5) (d) and 84.305 (5) (e) of the statutes; relating to: maintenance and
8removal of vegetation obstructing the view of outdoor advertising signs along
9highways 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 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. DOT may issue permits to sign owners for
the trimming, removal, or relocation of vegetation in the highway right-of-way if,
within various specified distances along the highway, the vegetation obstructs
motorists' view of the face of a sign. A permit authorizes the sign owner, or a
third-party contractor employed by the sign owner, to trim, remove, or relocate
obstructing vegetation to the extent necessary to eliminate the obstruction and
restore an unobstructed view of the sign for the applicable specified distance along
the highway. A permit must specify the vegetation or the portion of the highway
right-of-way to which the permit applies. Each permit must require a sign owner
that removes planted vegetation to either relocate the planted vegetation or
reimburse DOT for the value of the planted vegetation. DOT must present to the sign
owner DOT's calculation of the value of the planted vegetation, and the sign owner
may elect to relocate the planted vegetation or to reimburse DOT in the amount
calculated by DOT.
This bill makes various changes to DOT's permit system for maintenance and
removal of vegetation obstructing signs, including the following:
1. The bill replaces various sign viewing standards with a single standard: that
a sign owner is eligible for a permit to trim or remove vegetation if, for a distance of
500 continuous feet within the 1,000 feet distance motorists travel immediately
before reaching the sign, the vegetation obstructs the view of any portion of the face
of the sign. The bill also eliminates an exception that allowed DOT to issue a permit
for a noncontinuous 500 feet viewing distance.
2. The bill specifies that DOT must issue permits to eligible applicants. Also
under the bill, DOT permits authorize the trimming or removal, but not the
relocation, of obstructing vegetation.
3. The bill eliminates the requirement that a permittee that removes planted
vegetation must either relocate the planted vegetation or reimburse DOT for the
value of the planted vegetation. The bill replaces this requirement with the
requirement that 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.
4. The bill eliminates a requirement under current law that, under certain
conditions, a sign owner applying for a permit must, at the time of the application,
provide written notice of the application to any adjacent property owner and to the
applicable municipality. The bill also eliminates a provision of current law requiring
DOT, within 30 days of receiving an application, to determine whether the
application is complete and to return it to the applicant if incomplete.
5. The bill eliminates a provision of current law that a permit may not authorize
the trimming, removal, or relocation of vegetation in existence prior to the erection
of the sign obstructed by the vegetation. The bill replaces this provision with a
provision that DOT may not issue a permit to trim, remove, or relocate vegetation
obstructing the view of a sign that is less than five years old (calculated from when
DOT first collected the sign's permit fee).
6. The bill eliminates a provision of current law allowing DOT to require as a
condition or restriction under a permit that the work authorized under the permit
meet standards established by DOT. However, the bill retains current law that DOT
has authority to supervise and determine how the work authorized under a permit
is carried out.
7. The bill expands the definition of "vegetation," for purposes of the bill, to
include grass. The bill also eliminates the distinction between various other types
of vegetation, including "natural vegetation," "planted vegetation," and "specimen
trees."
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:
AB216, s. 1 1Section 1. 84.305 (1) (c) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 2 2Section 2. 84.305 (1) (d) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 3 3Section 3. 84.305 (1) (f) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 4 4Section 4. 84.305 (1) (g) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 5 5Section 5. 84.305 (1) (h) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,3,86 84.305 (1) (h) "Vegetation" means any tree, shrub, hedge, or other woody plant,
7and includes planted vegetation, natural vegetation, and specimen trees.
8"Vegetation" does not include
or grass.
AB216, s. 6
1Section 6. 84.305 (1) (j) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 7 2Section 7. 84.305 (1) (k) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 8 3Section 8. 84.305 (2) (a) (intro.) and 3. of the statutes are consolidated,
4renumbered 84.305 (2) and amended to read:
AB216,4,125 84.305 (2) Notwithstanding ss. 66.1037 and 86.03, and subject to sub. (2m),
6upon application, the department may shall issue permits to sign owners for the
7trimming, or removal, or relocation of vegetation that is located in the right-of-way
8of a highway under the jurisdiction of the department for maintenance purposes and
9that obstructs a sign if any of the following applies: 3. Subject to par. (b), within a
10distance of 500 continuous feet along any portion of the viewing zone, any portion of
11the face of the sign is not viewable because of an obstruction to sight by natural
12vegetation in the highway right-of-way.
AB216, s. 9 13Section 9. 84.305 (2) (a) 1. of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 10 14Section 10. 84.305 (2) (a) 2. of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 11 15Section 11. 84.305 (2) (a) 4. of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 12 16Section 12. 84.305 (2) (b) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 13 17Section 13. 84.305 (3) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,4,2418 84.305 (3) (a) Subject to pars. (d) to (g) and sub. (4), a permit issued under this
19section authorizes the permittee to trim obstructing vegetation or remove or relocate
20obstructing individual plants vegetation to the extent necessary to eliminate the
21obstruction and remedy any condition specified under sub. (2) (a) 1. to 4 provide an
22unobstructed view of a sign for 500 continuous feet within the viewing zone
. A permit
23issued under this section shall specify the vegetation or the portion of the highway
24right-of-way to which the permit applies.
AB216, s. 14 25Section 14. 84.305 (3) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,5,14
184.305 (3) (b) An application for a permit under this section shall specifically
2describe the work proposed by the applicant. The department shall grant or deny an
3application for a permit under this section, and notify the applicant of the
4department's decision, within 60 days of receipt of the application. Within 30 days
5of receipt of the application, the department shall determine whether the application
6is complete and, if not, the department shall return the application to the applicant
7and inform the applicant of what information, specifically described, must be
8provided by the applicant to complete the application. The department may not deny
9an application for a permit under this section based solely upon receipt by the
10department of an objection or complaint from a property owner or municipality
11receiving notice under par. (c), but the department may consider the objection or
12complaint in determining whether to grant or deny the application for a permit.
If
13the department denies an application for a permit under this section, the department
14shall notify the applicant of reasons for the denial.
AB216, s. 15 15Section 15. 84.305 (3) (c) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 16 16Section 16. 84.305 (3) (d) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,5,2017 84.305 (3) (d) A permit issued under this section may not authorize trimming,
18or removal, or relocation of vegetation located within a municipality and within 10
19feet of the nearest edge of the highway pavement without prior approval for the
20trimming, or removal, or relocation from the municipality.
AB216, s. 17 21Section 17. 84.305 (3) (e) of the statutes is renumbered 84.305 (2m) and
22amended to read:
AB216,6,523 84.305 (2m) A permit issued under this section may not authorize the
24permittee to trim, remove, or relocate vegetation in existence prior to the erection of
25the sign obstructed by the vegetation. Nothing in this paragraph prohibits the
The

1department from issuing may not issue a permit under this section authorizing the
2trimming, or removal, or relocation of vegetation that, at the time the sign was
3erected, did not obstruct
obstructing the view of the a sign if the department first
4collected a permit fee under s. 84.30 (10m) for that sign within the immediately
5preceding 5 years
.
AB216, s. 18 6Section 18. 84.305 (3) (f) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 19 7Section 19. 84.305 (3) (g) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,6,128 84.305 (3) (g) A permit issued under this section may not authorize the
9permittee to clear-cut any highway right-of-way. The permit authorizes the
10permittee to trim, or remove, or relocate only the vegetation specified in the permit,
11or only vegetation within the area of the right-of-way specified in the permit, in
12accordance with the terms of the permit.
AB216, s. 20 13Section 20. 84.305 (5) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,6,2314 84.305 (5) (a) Each permit issued under this section shall require a permittee
15that removes planted vegetation to either relocate the planted vegetation or
16reimburse the department for the value of the planted vegetation. The department
17shall present to the permittee the department's calculation of the value of the planted
18vegetation, and the permittee may elect to relocate the planted vegetation or to
19reimburse the department for the value of the planted vegetation as determined by
20the department
any tree with a diameter of 4 inches or more as measured at 3 feet
21from the ground, or any other vegetation with a diameter of 4 inches or more, to plant
22comparable replacement vegetation to compensate for all such vegetation removed,
23in compliance with the requirements under pars. (d) and (e)
.
AB216, s. 21 24Section 21. 84.305 (5) (b) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 22 25Section 22. 84.305 (5) (c) of the statutes is repealed.
AB216, s. 23
1Section 23. 84.305 (5) (d) of the statutes is created to read:
AB216,7,92 84.305 (5) (d) 1. In planting replacement vegetation under par. (a), the
3permittee shall determine the diameters of all trees with a diameter of 4 inches or
4more, as measured at 3 feet from the ground, and of all other vegetation with a
5diameter of 4 inches or more, that was removed and shall calculate the sum total of
6these diameters for each category of vegetation, such as for trees, for shrubs, and for
7hedges. In calculating the sum total of these diameters, the permittee shall not
8include in the calculation the diameter of any vegetation that was dead, diseased, or
9determined to be an invasive species at the time of its removal.
AB216,7,1310 2. The permittee shall plant sufficient replacement vegetation with a diameter
11of at least 2 inches so that the sum total of the diameters of the replacement
12vegetation, for each category of vegetation, at least equals the sum total of the
13diameters as calculated under subd. 1. for that category.
AB216, s. 24 14Section 24. 84.305 (5) (e) of the statutes is created to read:
AB216,7,1615 84.305 (5) (e) 1. Subject to subd. 2., the department shall determine where
16replacement vegetation required under this subsection is to be planted.
AB216,7,2017 2. Replacement vegetation required under this subsection shall be planted in
18the highway right-of-way not farther than 10 miles from the location of the removed
19vegetation being replaced. Replacement vegetation may not be planted in front of
20a sign.
AB216, s. 25 21Section 25. 84.305 (6) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,8,222 84.305 (6) The department shall have authority to supervise and determine
23how the work authorized under a permit issued under this section is carried out. The
24department may require as a condition or restriction under any permit issued under

1this section that the work authorized under the permit meet standards established
2by the department.
AB216, s. 26 3Section 26. 84.305 (7) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB216,8,114 84.305 (7) Nothing in this section prohibits a sign owner and the department
5from voluntarily negotiating for, and the department from authorizing without the
6issuance of a permit under this section, the trimming, or removal, or relocation of any
7vegetation in a highway right-of-way in order to provide an unobstructed view of a
8sign, except in situations where sub. (3) (d) would apply if a permit were issued under
9this section. Nothing in this section restricts the department's authority with respect
10to departmental maintenance operations in the rights-of-way of highways under
11the department's jurisdiction.
AB216, s. 27 12Section 27. Effective date.
AB216,8,1313 (1) This act takes effect on the 30th day after the day of publication.
AB216,8,1414 (End)
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