Land Use Planning and the Billboard
The responsible city council, village board, or town board in Wisconsin has embraced comprehensive land use planning, and the development of a "master plan" often includes adopting zoning ordinances or amending current zoning. In developing a plan, many municipalities retain a planning consultant or ask for the advice of the UW Extension. Planners often suggest that municipalities adopt design review and signage restrictions if changes to other ordinances are going to be made.
The members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Wisconsin (OAAW) applaud your efforts to manage the growth of your communities and develop ordinances which will allow your community to thrive without damaging its unique character.
OAAW members are not opposed to the regulation of their industry. In fact, we support the federal Highway Beautification Act (HBA) and the state law which regulates where billboards can be located as well as the size, spacing, and lighting of those signs.
OAAW members believe that all municipalities should work to strike a balance between the aesthetic sensibilities of their residents and the needs of the business community. The outcome will differ dramatically from community to community and from one section of a municipality to another. Billboards are never appropriate in residential or scenic areas. In those areas which are zoned commercial or industrial, the size, spacing, lighting, height, and other specifications for outdoor advertising signs should vary to meet the sensibilities of the community. What is considered useful and pleasant in Lake Geneva may be viewed negatively in Door County. The needs of the tourism businesses in 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 members know that there is a great deal of confusion about billboards and how to regulate them. If your community is considering adopting a sign ordinance or revising your current ordinance, we hope that you will look to OAAW as a resource. Please feel free to contact the Association with any questions or concerns you may have about outdoor advertising. We know the State and Federal laws and want to help you achieve your goals. Please call OAAW at 608-286-0764.