Register October 2020 No. 778
Chapter Trans 201
Trans 201.01   General.
Trans 201.02   Definitions.
Trans 201.03   Licensing.
Trans 201.035   Annual sign fees.
Trans 201.04   Clear vision areas.
Trans 201.05   Directional and official signs.
Trans 201.06   Sign criteria.
Trans 201.07   Sign permit requirements.
Trans 201.075   Signs outside the adjacent area.
Trans 201.08   Changes in permitted signs.
Trans 201.09   Removal of illegal signs.
Trans 201.10   Removal of nonconforming signs.
Trans 201.11   Access to permitted signs.
Trans 201.12   Signs on federal-aid urban system exempted.
Trans 201.14   Sign removal.
Trans 201.15   Electronic signs.
Trans 201.16   Political signs.
Trans 201.17   Real estate signs.
Trans 201.18   Farm and agricultural test plot signs.
Trans 201.19   On-property signs.
Trans 201.20   Local certification.
Trans 201.21   Local acquisition of signs.
Trans 201.22   Effect of rule.
Trans 201.23   Scenic byways.
Trans 201.01 Trans 201.01General. Pursuant to authority contained in ss. 84.106, 84.30 and 86.19, 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 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.
Trans 201.02 Trans 201.02Definitions. 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:
Trans 201.02(1) (1)“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.
Trans 201.02(2) (2)“Department" means the department of transportation.
Trans 201.02(3) (3)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.
Trans 201.02(4) (4)“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), Stats.
Trans 201.02(5) (5)“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.
Trans 201.02(6) (6)“License" means a license to engage in the business of outdoor advertising.
Trans 201.02(7) (7)“Nonconforming sign" means any of the following:
Trans 201.02(7)(a) (a) A sign that lawfully existed on March 18, 1972, outside of a business area.
Trans 201.02(7)(b) (b) 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.
Trans 201.02(8) (8)“Off-premises" or “off-property sign" means a sign that is not an on-premises sign.
Trans 201.02(9) (9)“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.
Trans 201.02(10) (10)“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), Stats.
Trans 201.02(11) (11)“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 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.
Trans 201.02(12) (12)“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.
Trans 201.02(13) (13)“Zoned" includes the establishment of districts without restrictions on use.
Trans 201.02 History 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.
Trans 201.03 Trans 201.03Licensing. 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 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.
Trans 201.035 Trans 201.035Annual sign fees.
Trans 201.035(1)(1)Sign identifier. 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:
Trans 201.035(1)(a) (a) Approval of a permit to erect the sign.
Trans 201.035(1)(b) (b) First payment of an annual fee for a sign erected before May 1, 2001.
Trans 201.035(1)(c) (c) Addition of the sign to the sign database of signs maintained by the department.
Trans 201.035(2) (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.
Trans 201.035(3) (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:
Published under s. 35.93, Stats. Updated on the first day of each month. Entire code is always current. The Register date on each page is the date the chapter was last published.