SOME OF THE REALLY CLEVER WAYS THAT BILLBOARD OPERATORS ATTRACT ADVERTISERS. Imagine Citizens for a Spring 2005 | Vol. 5, No. 1 Scenic Wisconsin w w w. s c e n i c w i s c o n s i n . o r g Working to Preserve Wisconsin’s Scenery Outdoor Advertising Companies sue Scenic Byways Program City of Greenfield Are billboard rules Approved unconstitutional? APPLICATION GUIDE EXPECTED IN JULY GREENFIELD |Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 02/16/05 Two of the largest outdoor MADISON | Scenic Byways, a program Under the regulation, no off-premise advertising companies in the nation designed to protect scenic highways, was signs (billboards) visible from the road may are suing the City of Greenfield, claim- published as Trans 202 of the Wisconsin be erected. Directional and other official ing that its sign ordinance, that will Administrative Code on March 1. Scenic signs are allowed, as are signs advertising lead to removal of billboards starting Byways is a federally subsidized scenic activities conducted on the property on in 2010, is unconstitutional. The law- conservation program that allows states to which they are located. suit filed in February by Clear Channel designate and preserve sections of highways Scenic Wisconsin was one of the sup- Outdoor and Lamar Outdoor claims that have outstanding scenery to provide an porters of Scenic Byways. Executive director that the 1998 ordinance violates state exceptional travel experience that will Chuck Mitchell spoke at the public hearings and federal constitutions. attract tourists and foster business. in July and October of 2004. Revisions The ordinance has a provision that The new chapter in the code, which will requested by the transportation committees allows existing billboards to stand for 12 be administered by the Department of in the state legislature were done by the to 17 years, during which the companies Transportation, establishes an advisory DOT in December. The application forms, derive income from the advertisements committee to review and approve applica- guidebook and other materials necessary to on them, and then be removed. Similar tions for Scenic Byways. To qualify for implementing the program should be avail- ordinances around the country have Scenic Byway status, a route must have able by July, according to Jane Carrola, been upheld by courts as allowing scenic or historical characteristics that are Scenic Byways Coordinator at the DOT, enough time for companies to recoup unique. Archeological, cultural and recre- 608-257-4994. investments in their billboards. ational features are taken into consideration. When in effect, Wisconsin will join Attorney Michael Whitcomb said The regulation provides for scenic byways to its neighboring states Illinois, Iowa, his clients want compensation if the city be established on state highways, not on Michigan and Minnesota in having this takes down the signs around 2010 when county roads or interstate highways. The beneficial program. q the provision takes effect. According to section of the route to become a scenic the lawsuit, Clear Channel and Lamar byway must be at least 30 miles long. One of have 19 billboards in the city worth $6.4 the local governments along the route must million. “Just compensation” for pri- be the initiator of the application for a vate property taken is required by the Scenic Byway, and a Corridor Management US Constitution, Whitcomb said. Plan must be submitted. It is expected that local citizen, civic Editor’s Note: An article in the Zoning and and business groups will collaborate for Planning Law Report, February 2004, scenic byway designation and corridor about provisions such as are in effect in management. Greenfield, concludes that those provi- sions are constitutionally acceptable as providing just compensation. q Citizens for a A message from your Scenic Wisconsin Executive Director BY CHUCK MITCHELL | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR | CITIZENS FOR A SCENIC WISCONSIN pro-beauty. We’re pro-Wisconsin. Bills in the Legislature, Lawsuits in the Cities pro-tourism. AS EXPECTED, bills and rule-mak- for a summary of recommended 7525 Oakhill Ave., ing initiatives have been intro- action on legislation. Wauwatosa, WI 53213 duced in the legislature that Meanwhile in the cities, as relate to billboards and impact you can see in three articles in 414.258.8604 scenery. Bills SB89 & AB155 this newsletter, billboard opera- E-mail: would deny cities the power to tors are aggressively attacking firstname.lastname@example.org enforce billboard ordinances by sign ordnances in our communi- Website: the use of amortization. There is ties. The outcome of the lawsuit www.scenicwisconsin.org a bill to allow logo signs for attractions, and a bill in Greenfield will set a precedent that will impact Fax: 414.258.9672 to prohibit new billboards. There is an initiative enforcement of ordinances. that might allow more tree-trimming in front of Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin billboards. Refer to the list of scenic issues below CHUCK MITCHELL is a not-for-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible as provided by law. Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin Current Scenic Issues CSW Board Member is affiliated with Scenic America, Scenic Byways. This a great new program for good LOWELL KLESSIG has built variety into his life - in Washington, D.C., the only in education, in educating, in hobbies, and in the national organization dedicated management of landscape along scenic roads. to protecting natural beauty Guidebooks and application forms are due from the species of trees on his farm. Lowell has degrees in and the distinctive character DOT in July. biochemistry, molecular biology, sociology, and of our communities. environmental management from UW-Madison Publicize this program to communities and citizens groups. DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS and Vanderbilt University. Logo Signs. We welcome increased use of small, Lowell recently retired from a career at UW- Michael Krenn Cedar Grove tasteful, uniform, directional signs. Increased avail- Stevens Point where he taught Resource PRESIDENT ability of small signs on the highway right of way will Management and Land Use Planning. At the same Vernie Smith decrease the demand for oversize billboards. time, he served as the lake management specialist Viroqua Support AB20 Logo Signs for Attractions. for UW-Extension and was active in the Wisconsin VICE PRESIDENT Rural Leadership Program, serving a term as Pat Dvorak Executive Director. As a consultant to the Global New Berlin Trees & Shrubs. Allow natural trees and shrubs to SECRETARY flourish along highways. We don’t want wide areas of Environmental Management Education Center, he Robert Kennedy trees cut down to provide a better view of billboards. is currently involved in rural leadership education Wauwatosa Trees provide beauty, also erosion control, light & in China. TREASURER For hobbies, Lowell raises and shows beef cattle noise barriers, and snow screens. Richard Chenoweth Don’t change DOT trimming policy. with his sons, fishes from Alaska to Mexico, and Madison does adventure traveling with his wife. His travel Paul Fowler goal is to add one new country each year. In Oshkosh Non-Conforming Billboards. Ugly billboards exist in scenic areas, areas not zoned commercial or November it was Bhutan. Ed Kleckner Although retired, Lowell Menasha industrial, before the federal law prohibited them. They are supposed to come down, not be rebuilt and invests a great amount of time Lowell Klessig Amherst Junction used indefinitely. in forest management. He Refine and clarify rules to limit rebuilding N-C billboards. manages two hundred acres of Ward Lyles Madison forests - primarily for aesthet- Tom Miller Removal of objectionable Signs by “Amortization”. ics, biodiversity, and wildlife. Madison Continue the validity of amortization as a fair pro- Harvesting is done only to Tom Wilson cess for municipalities to remove objectionable promote those values. A con- Waupaca structures such as signs and billboards after a rea- servation easement has been Charles Mitchell sonable period of time. donated to prevent majestic Wauwatosa Defeat AB155 & SB89. white pine and white oak from ever being cut. He EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR is proud that he has been able to nurture over 20 Stop Putting up new Billboards. A bill in the legis- species of trees. Lowell serves on the board of EDITOR lature would simply prohibit new billboards being Wisconsin Family Forests. Charles Mitchell put up along state highways. In his professional and personal contacts, Lowell Support SB77. q has tried to raise awareness of natural beauty as a pre- EDITORIAL DESIGN cious resource that requires care and respect. q Waterfront Graphic Design 608-592-6501 Help Preserve Wisconsin’s Irreplaceable Scenic Beauty Get Involved! TREES AND SHRUBS IN THE PUBLIC LAND ALONG I94 FREEWAY NEAR NORTH AVENUE ADD VALUE TO THE CENTRAL CITY NEIGHBORHOOD The $$$ Value of Scenery BY RICHARD CHENOWETH | PROFESSOR OF URBAN & REGIONAL PLANNING “IT’S THE COST OF PROGRESS.” How many times have the poles and cables. The difference in what people were will- you heard these words spoken in defense of public projects ing to pay to live in an identical house in a neighborhood or private development that will detract from the existing where the cables were underground was significant – approxi- scenic quality of a place near you. The value of the scenic mately $5,000 for a house with an assessed valuation of quality that will be lost is assumed to be trivial compared $80,000. On the total number of households in the City near to the benefits of the “progress.” But if the costs of the the cable, the tax revenue loss due to aesthetic blight far scenic quality loss are never estimated and never included exceeded the amount of the annual fee TCI had been paying! in the cost-benefit analysis, scenic quality is effectively TCI decided to continue to pay the fee rather than to test the considered to have zero dollar value. A well-intentioned contingent valuation study in the courts. claim by those who champion the cause of retaining our These are only two examples of studies that have shown heritage of natural scenic beauty is that scenic beauty is clearly the value of scenic beauty. Neglecting scenic issues “priceless”, a claim so vague that it leads to trivializing the comes at a cost to our quality of life, and has an economic cost value of scenery. as well. Public projects and private developments should give But for “cost-benefit” analysis to have validity, it must careful consideration to aesthetic impacts and take steps to include all of the costs and benefits. But how can the costs mitigate those impacts. q associated with the loss of scenic quality be estimated? In a recent issue of Environmental Practice, a publica- tion of the National Association of Environmental Professionals, Dr. Thomas Kapper wrote about a technique Elsewhere in the nation: called contingent valuation that he has used to value aes- thetic damage. Dr. Kapper is a graduate of the University of Lawyer Fights for Billboards from PAUL FOWLER Wisconsin-Madison. The technique did not receive much public attention until damage assessment emerged as major ATLANTA | Atlanta Journal-Constitution 07/28/03 issue following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Edward Webb’s first love is a billboard 60 feet up in the sky, Dr. Kapper demonstrated the application of contingent hawking new cars, Bud Light, or a personal injury lawyer. The valuation techniques for a highway-widening project in an 32-year old Atlanta attorney has over 100 new billboards to his ordinary rural landscape in southern Wisconsin. The site con- credit and he’s gunning for more. The secret to his success is a tained no extraordinary natural features and also showed confrontational legal strategy that has drawn critics but won signs of man’s imprint on the land. The question was would landowners consider highway expansion within view from cases across Georgia. Billboard companies hire him when they their property to be aesthetic damage, and if so, how much want to erect billboards in communities that don’t want them. would they be willing to pay to avoid the damage. The results Webb’s specialty is scouring ordinances looking for restric- demonstrated that people believed the highway expansion tions he believes are unconstitutional. Treat a garage sale sign was indeed an aesthetic damage, and that people would pay to different from a bake sale? He’s all over that. Don’t set a time avoid it, although the amount was small relative to the cost of limit for acting on permit applications? There’s trouble. Fail to the highway construction. state purposes for limiting signs? You’re in court. So far he’s Another demonstration of the use of contingent valua- sued 25 cities and counties in Georgia. tion occurred in the City of Lake Geneva WI in the 1980s. Webb’s crusade is the modern front in the long stand-off TCI Cablevision suddenly refused to pay the city its fees for between outdoor advertisers and city councils, garden clubs use of public right-of-way, in part on the grounds that it was and municipal attorneys. Critics accuse him of wielding legal a public service news provider. The city claimed that the technicalities to spread visual blight. It’s a sign code shake- cables strung on poles created an aesthetic blight on the com- down, says Randal Morrison, a California lawyer defending a munity and that the fees were in part a compensation to the city against Webb. Not at all, Webb says. What I’m doing is city for that aesthetic damage. I used contingent valuation to defending free speech against government officials who don’t estimate the economic value of the aesthetic blight caused by like signs. q Prosperity doesn’t have to be ugly. Volunteer today! www.scenicwisconsin.org NON-PROFIT CITIZENS FOR A SCENIC WISCONSIN ORGANIZATION 7525 Oakhill Avenue Wauwatosa, WI 53213 U.S. POSTAGE PAID MILWAUKEE, WI PERMIT NO. 104 Scenic Byways Program Starts this Summer See Page 1 Regional Planning Conservationists meet with East Central Wisconsin Natural Resources Board MENASHA | January 18 SHORELAND RULES AMONG TOPICS MADISON | March 23 Chuck Mitchell, representative for At a conference set up by the East Central Scenic Wisconsin, in a statement about Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, A breakfast meeting with the Natural shoreland rules, reminded the group that Tom Wilson attended a meeting of the Open Resources Board (NRB) was arranged by the main point of the rules is to protect Space, Recreation and Regional Character the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) the lakes and streams. That means that Committee as a representative of Scenic for their member organizations. “mitigation” (restoring/maintaining the Wisconsin. Of particular interest to East Representatives of about 20 organiza- natural vegetative buffer along the shores Central and participants were the potential tions had breakfast with the 7-member to absorb polluted run-off) is an impor- scenic impacts of wind generation facilities. NRB. Caryl Terrell, director of the tant part of the rules. It means resisting Wilson provided information and research Wisconsin Sierra Club, served as infor- the special interests that want to weaken on scenic quality issues and opportunities mal chairperson of the conservationists. the rules. Trees and shrubs along the lakes such as small highway signs, off premise bill- The main topics were Act 118 DNR are also the biggest factor in good scenery. boards, and general aesthetics. This meeting Permitting Rules, NR115 Shoreland The revised rules, which include is part of the preparation of a new Regional Zoning Rules, and manure run-off. allowing unlimited maintenance, limited Comprehensive Plan. q rebuilding and limited expansion of non- City of Madison conforming houses, are expected to be approved by the NRB at their April meet- Wins Outdoor ing, and to go out for public hearings in Advertising Case the summer. q MADISON | (Public Record) February 24 The City of Madison won a property tax case against Adams Outdoor Advertising. Bucking the trend of assess- ing billboards at what they cost to build, less depreciation, the city evaluated Adams’ billboards at market value, tak- ing into account income generated by ads. Instead of $400,000, this year the city assessed Adams’ billboards at $6 million, resulting in an increase in prop- erty taxes of $180,000 for Adams to pay. This case closes a big tax loophole on Regional Planning: Scenic Wisconsin director Tom Wilson (right) sees to it that aesthetics outdoor advertisers and sets a precedent Conservationists: Chuck Mitchell are part of the plan. for other cities, but it may be appealed to addresses the meeting with the Natural the Wisconsin Supreme Court. q Resources Board. Help Preserve Wisconsin’s Irreplaceable Scenic Beauty Join Today!