Section 1: Title/Purpose
This ordinance is entitled the “Town of Bell Signs/Billboard Ordinance.” The purpose of this ordinance is as follows:
To promote the safety, comfort, and well-being of the users of streets, roads, and highways in the Town;
To reduce distractions and obstructions from signs which would adversely affect traffic safety, and to alleviate hazards caused by signs projecting over or encroaching upon public ways;
To discourage excessive visual competition in signage and ensure that signs aid orientation and adequately identify uses and activities to the public;
To preserve the natural beauty of the Town of Bell; and,
To preserve and enhance Town character.
Section 2: Authority
The Town Board of the Town of Bell, in compliance with Sections 60.62 and 60.10, Wis. Stats., has the specific statutory authority, powers and duties to regulate, control, license, register or permit in the Town of Bell persons engaged in certain uses, activities, businesses and operations, to assess these persons with appropriate fees for licenses, registrations or permits as noted herein and to enforce by revocation or penalty, the provisions of these ordinances and the provisions of the licenses, registrations and permits.
Section 3: Adoption of Ordinance
The Town Board of the Town of Bell has, by adoption of this ordinance, confirmed its specific statutory authority, powers and duties noted in the sections of this ordinance and has established by the adoption of this ordinance its authority and power to license, register and to grant permits and to regulate and control:
a. Persons and businesses engaged in certain uses and activities which cause them to display signs or billboards,
b. To assess these persons or businesses with appropriate fees for the licenses, registrations or permits, and
c. To enforce, by revocation, penalty, or the removal of any non-conforming sign or billboard the provisions of these ordinances and the provisions of any license, registration and permit.
Section 4: General Provisions
The following signs and billboards are prohibited from being placed or maintained in any area of the Town of Bell:
a. Signs or billboards which have been deemed unsafe or in disrepair by the Town Board,
b. Signs which are attached to a tree, except for “no trespassing” signs placed on trees by the owner or occupant of the premises;
c. Signs or billboards painted or placed directly on parked vehicles, or trailers except temporary “for sale” signs not exceeding three square feet,
d. Signs or billboards that are not indirectly lighted, or that move, or swing, or blink, or are designed and constructed to be animated,
e. Signs or billboards on roofs,
f. Signs or billboards on agricultural buildings,
g. Signs or billboards on any Town of Bell lands including roads,
h. Signs or billboards located within any state, county, or Town road right-of-way,
i. Off-premise signs and billboards,
j. Signs or billboards which obstruct or interfere with in any way the effectiveness or visibility of any traffic sign in the Town of Bell, and
k. Signs or billboards which the Town Board deems not in conformance with the purposes heretofore stated in this ordinance.
The following conditions regarding public health and safety, and the aesthetic appearance of signs and billboards shall apply to all signs within the Town of Bell:
a. Any sign or billboard, whether constructed before or after the date of this ordinance, which is not properly maintained by the owner, or any sign or billboard which is deemed by the Town Board at its sole discretion to be a public nuisance or to be not in conformance with the stated purposes or any provisions of the ordinance, including its aesthetic impact, shall be removed by the owner within thirty (30) days of receipt of a written notice from the Town Board. Failure to remove the sign or billboard shall cause the Town of Bell to remove the sign after a ten (10) day written notice of the intended removal is mailed to the landowner by the Town Board. The removal expense shall be charged to the owner of the sign or billboard and/or to the owner of the land wherein the sign or billboard is located. In the event removal costs are unpaid, they may be placed as a special charge on the property tax bill of the owner of the sign or the landowner where the sign is located, or may be recovered through any other remedy available to the Town of Bell under law.
b. Any sign or billboard which is determined by the Town Board to be so unsafe or dangerous to persons or property as to pose an imminent danger to persons or property shall be summarily removed by the Town of Bell without any notice to the owner of the sign or billboard or to the owner of the land wherein the sign or billboard is located, and removal costs will be assessed as outlined immediately above.
The restrictions on the placement and construction of any signs or billboards are as follows:
a. Wall/Building Signs
If permitted, these signs should be placed against the exterior walls of building and shall not extend beyond forty-eight (48) inches of wall surface. These signs shall have a maximum of sixteen square feet (16) of display area. These signs shall not exceed twenty (20) feet in height above the existing topography.
b. On-Premises Ground Signs
If permitted, these signs shall be placed on a solid, permanent structure at the business premises. The signs shall not exceed thirty-two (32) square feet on one side and sixty-four (64) square feet on all sides, and shall not exceed twelve (12) feet in height above existing topography.
c. Off-Premises Ground Signs
The Town Board may grant an exception to the prohibition against off-premises signs except that these signs shall be limited to directional signs not to exceed six (6) square feet in area and may be permitted for businesses or entities located with the Town of Bell only.
d. Distance Standards
No directional sign shall be located closer than three hundred (300) feet to any other directional sign regardless of municipal boundaries, street classification, topography, etc…
Business signs shall be allowed at a distance of one sign per Lot of record.
No two or more signs representing the same or different businesses shall be permitted to be stacked at a single location.
These signs shall be placed on the inside of commercial buildings only, and shall not exceed twelve (12) square feet of the existing glass area of the pane upon which the sign is displayed.
f. Lighted Signs
Only indirect lighting will be permitted.
Section 5: Permits, Applications, Fees, Exemptions, Non-Conformance
a. Coverage of Permits
Every person, pursuant to Sec. 84.30, 86.19, 86.191, 86.192, 86.195 and 86.196, Wis. Stats., and this ordinance of the Town of Bell who installs, operates and maintains signs or billboards in the Town shall seek and obtain a sign permit in the Town of Bell. The fees shall be annually established by the Town of Bell prior to July 1. The sign permit shall be issued from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next year. The permit shall be issued by the Town Clerk of the Town of Bell after approval by the Town Board and prior to the installation of the sign or billboard in the Town of Bell.
No person shall be issued or re-issued a sign permit until a properly completed application has been approved by the Town Board, a fee has been paid, and inspection of the premises on which the sign is to be located has been accomplished. At the discretion of the Town Board, proof of liability insurance may he required before a permit is issued.
The application and permit shall designate the premises where the sign will be installed and maintained. The sign permit is not transferable to any other location in the Town of Bell, and is not transferable from one person to another. The applications shall include the following:
1) The name, address and telephone number of the applicant/sign owner
2) The name, address and telephone number of the sign constructor, if different
3) The name, address and telephone number of the owner of the property where the sign is to be located
4) The type of sign, i.e. wall/building, on premises ground sign, off premises ground sign, or window sign
5) The projected date of display
6) The projected date of removal
7) The plan for repair and maintenance
8) A signed indemnification to the Town of Bell by the sign owner against all loss, cost, damages or expenses incurred by the Town of Bell due to construction, repair, maintenance and removal of sign
9) Diagrams and maps showing the size, design, and location of the sign
10) Copies of all necessary state and county permits
11) Copy of liability insurance
Each applicant shall submit a non-refundable fee of $25.00 per application for the original permit. Failure to submit said fee prior to Town Board review shall be grounds for denial of the permit.
The following signs and billboards are exempt from this ordinance:
1) Unlighted political signs on private property placed within ninety (90) days of an election and removed withing twenty days (20) after the election.
2) Lighted or unlighted traffic signs or utility signs.
3) Fire call number signs and signs placed by the Town of Bell.
4) Lighted or unlighted residence name plate signs, which are no more than three (3) square feet in area.
5) Unlighted “no trespassing signs” which are no more than six (6) square feet in area.
6) Unlighted “garage sale signs” which are no more than sixteen (16) square feet in area and which shall be placed on the property no more than three days before the event and removed within one day after the event.
7) Unlighted real estate “for sale” signs that are no more than sixteen (16) square feet in area, and which shall be removed withing thirty (30) days after the transaction is completed.
8) Unlighted flags of governmental or non-profit organizations.
9) Temporary signs as approved by the Town Board.
10) Signs within any district which is zoned “commercial” which are in existence at the time of enactment of this ordinance or which have been specifically approved by the Town Board and which conform to the stated purposes and provisions of this ordinance.
11) Off-premises signs in existence at the time of enactment of this ordinance, except that those signs may not be altered in any way except to conform to the stated purposes and provisions of this ordinance.
The Town Board may deny any permit or revoke any permit or license for non-conformance with the provisions of this ordinance. The Town Board may order at any time the removal of any nonconforming sign or billboard. Any sign or billboard not removed within the time stated in the order shall be deemed a public nuisance and removed by the Town of Bell with the costs of said removal being borne by the property owner and/or sign owner through a special charge on the property tax bill of the sign owner and/or the property owner where the sign is located, or through an action in Circuit Court, or by placing a lien, in accordance with the appropriate state law, on the property from which the sign has been removed.
The Town of Bell shall not be responsible for any damage to any sign removed for non-conformance with the ordinance. Any sign so removed will be held in storage for a period of thirty (30) days during which time the owner of the sign may redeem his property upon payment of all costs assessed by the Town of Bell. After thirty days (30), the sign shall be considered abandoned with title vested in the Town of Bell for disposal in any manner allowed by law.
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