According to the Highway Beautification Act, new billboards can only be erected in areas zoned commercial or industrial. In unzoned areas, the billboard must be adjacent to a bona fide business.
Local jurisdictions can also regulate outdoor advertising. Cities, villages, towns, and counties can either defer to State law or enact their own ordinances. Counties have jurisdiction only if other municipalities defer to the county ordinance or along county roads in towns without an ordinance.
Because local municipalities determine zoning, they essentially control where billboards can be erected. County zoning is important in those parts of the State where towns have adopted county-wide zoning.
Look to OAAW as a Resource
The members of the OAAW have traditionally maintained that outdoor advertising is best regulated at the local level. It is clear that the best situation is one where the needs of the business community are balanced with the aesthetic sensibilities of the citizens who live there. The appropriate size, spacing, lighting, height, and other specifications for outdoor advertising signs will vary from community to community. What is appropriate in Milwaukee may not be appropriate in Superior. What is considered useful and pleasant in Lake Geneva may be viewed negatively in Door County. The needs of the tourism businesses in the Wisconsin Dells may be worlds apart from what is needed in Minocqua or Waupaca. OAAW realizes this and wants to work with each community to develop ordinances which are fair and productive.
OAAW hopes that citizens, local elected officials, and municipalities will look to our Association as a resource.
The OAAW telephone number is 608-286-0764.