Relating to outdoor advertising signs that do not conform to local ordinances and that are affected by certain transportation-related projects.

2023 Bills SB467 and AB486 would allow non-conforming billboards that need to be moved to make way for highway reconstruction to not only be repositioned on the site, but, if there is no room for repositioning, to be transferred to a place elsewhere in the municipality. The bills specify that the DoT must pay the owner of the sign the costs of adjusting, repositioning or transferring the sign.

1. It is a long-standing basic principle of the federal Highway Beautification Act that when a nonconforming billboard reaches the end of its useful life it is to be taken down by the owner, with appropriate compensation to the owner. It is not to be moved/transferred elsewhere.

2. It is the purpose of a local sign ordinance to manage the placement and size of outdoor advertising signs for the benefit of the citizens of the municipality. Off-premise outdoor advertising signs, commonly known as billboards, are considered unsightly in many municipalities, so they have ordinances that disallow them. To make municipalities that disallow billboards accept undesired placement of billboards by force of law is an unprecedented violation of the municipality’s authority to govern itself.

3. The DoT should not pay the costs of adjusting, repositioning or transferring a non-conforming billboard in a community that does not allow billboards.

Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin