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     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
 Companies sue                                 Scenic Byways Program
 City of Greenfield
 Are billboard rules
                                                                        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
 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

   We’re         pro-Wisconsin.                            Bills in the Legislature, Lawsuits in the Cities
                                      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              enforce billboard ordinances by                                                  sign ordnances in our communi-
             Website:                 the use of amortization. There is                                                ties. The outcome of the lawsuit              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
                                                                                                     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
                                                                                                     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
                                                    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

“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!
 CITIZENS      FOR A       SCENIC WISCONSIN                                                                                ORGANIZATION
        7525 Oakhill Avenue Wauwatosa, WI 53213
                                                                                                                          U.S. POSTAGE PAID
                                                                                                                           MILWAUKEE, WI
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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.

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