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City of Monroe, WI
Green County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
(1) 
The purpose of this chapter is to establish standards for the fabrication, erection, and use of signs, and to regulate the location, type, size, and height of signage for all properties within the City of Monroe. The adoption of this chapter reflects the formal finding of fact by the City of Monroe Plan Commission and Common Council that regulation of signage advances the following compelling governmental interests:
(a) 
Reduce signage that the City has determined to be a cause of unsafe traffic and visibility conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and passengers.
(b) 
Protect pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and passengers from injury caused by the faulty and uncontrolled construction and use of signs within the City.
(c) 
Protect pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and passengers from injury caused by distractions, obstructions, and hazards created by certain signs or by cluttered, distracting, or illegible signage.
(d) 
Promote the public welfare, health, and safety of all persons using public thoroughfares and rights-of-way within the City of Monroe in relation to the signage displayed thereon, or overhanging or projecting into such public spaces.
(e) 
Preserve the value of private property by assuring the compatibility of signs with surrounding land uses.
(f) 
Assure that public benefits derived from expenditures of public funds for the improvement and beautification of public streets and other public structures and spaces are protected by exercising reasonable controls over character and design of signage.
(g) 
Advance the aesthetic goals of the City throughout the community and ensure the effectiveness and flexibility in the design, creativity, or use of signage without creating a detriment to the general public.
(2) 
Furthermore, this regulation leaves ample and adequate alternative channels of commercial speech communication for the messages portrayed on advertising signs - namely, distributed print media, broadcast media, and point-of-purchase display - and is narrowly defined so as to limit said prohibition to commercial speech on exterior signage and signage intended to be viewed from beyond the boundaries of a site.
(3) 
The penalties of the City of Monroe Municipal Code may be applicable to violations of the provisions of this chapter.
(4) 
Any sign authorized by this chapter may contain a noncommercial message.
(1) 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
SIGN
In this chapter, any object, device, display, structure, or part thereof, situated or visible from outdoors, which is used to advertise, identify, display, direct or attract attention to an object, person, institution, organization, business, product, service, event, or location by any means, including words, letters, figures, designs, logos, symbols, fixtures, colors, illumination, or projected images.
(a) 
Signs do not include:
1. 
Traffic control and other government messages located within a right-of-way.
2. 
Legally mandated signs expressly required by local, state, or federal law.
3. 
Decorations that are incidentally and customarily associated with any national holiday or religious holiday, or with any community festival or similar event.
4. 
Artworks, including but not limited to wall murals, which do not contain a commercial message, logo, or colors; and/or which contain pictorial representations referring to businesses, merchandise, products, or services of an exclusively historic nature (meaning no longer offered as an active commercial enterprise).
5. 
Flags which do not contain a commercial message, logo, or colors.
6. 
Building colors and lighting which do not contain a commercial message, logo, or colors.
7. 
Interior site signs located on the interior of the grounds of the following land uses: a passive outdoor recreation facility, an active outdoor recreational facility, or an outdoor open space institutional facility, which are primarily oriented to persons within the grounds.
8. 
Interior building signs located on the interior of a building and not attached to a window, which are primarily oriented to persons within the building.
9. 
Window displays of merchandise, pictures, or models of products or services incorporated in a window display that are not directly attached to an interior or exterior window surface.
10. 
Vehicles that are licensed, operable, and parked in legal parking spaces.
11. 
Construction site fences per Wis. Stat. § 66.1102(5).
This section provides the definitions and rules related to various sign groups, sign categories, and sign types. Figures 5-9-11(1) through 5-9-11(4) provide the regulations for these signs applicable to each zoning district. Any sign type not addressed by this chapter shall be construed to be prohibited.
(1) 
Definitions and rules related to the permanent business signs group: Permanent Business Sign. A permanent sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service, or entertainment conducted, sold, offered, or manufactured upon the site where the sign is located. "Permanent Business Signs" is a sign group containing various sign categories and sign types that a business is eligible to use. Permanent business signs include the following sign categories: freestanding signs, on-building signs, pedestrian signs, and daily notice signs. See Figure 5-9-11(1) for additional rules for permanent business signs related to zoning districts.
(a) 
Freestanding sign category. A sign permanently resting on or supported by a slab, pedestal, post, pylon, or any other form of base located on the ground. The following freestanding sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Monument sign. A type of freestanding sign in which the bottom edge of the sign face is located within one foot of a ground-mounted pedestal.
2. 
Dual post sign. A type of freestanding sign mounted to the sides or ends of two or more posts, with the majority of the sign area located between the outermost posts, with the bottom edge located within an average of three feet of existing grade.
3. 
Pylon sign. A type of freestanding sign erected upon one or more pylons or poles, generally of a height that is taller than permitted for a dual post sign.
(b) 
On-building sign category. A type of sign permanently affixed to an outside wall of a building. The following on-building sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Wall sign. A type of on-building sign that is mounted directly on, and parallel to, a building facade or other vertical building surface. A wall sign also includes a sign located on the interior of a building that is intended to be viewed primarily from beyond the boundaries of the site. Whether an interior sign is considered a wall sign shall be determined by the Zoning Administrator during the sign permit review process.
a. 
The top edge of a wall sign shall not extend above the top edge of the vertical exterior wall or above the lowest edge of a roof line of the portion of the building to which it is mounted, except that:
b. 
Wall Signs shall not project more than 18 inches horizontally beyond the edge of any wall or other surface to which they are mounted.
2. 
Awning sign. A type of on-building sign that is directly affixed via sewing, silk screening, painting, or similar method to a nonrigid removable awning which is mounted to the facade of a building.
a. 
Sign copy shall be horizontally and vertically centered on the face(s) of the awning.
b. 
Sign copy shall not project above, below, or beyond, the awning surface.
c. 
Sign copy shall not exceed 25% of the area of an angled face of the awning.
d. 
On a vertical face of the awning, sign copy shall not exceed 12 inches in height.
3. 
Canopy sign. A type of on-building sign that is directly affixed via bolts, brackets, or similar method to a rigid permanent canopy which is mounted to, or adjacent to, the facade of a building.
a. 
Sign copy shall be horizontally and vertically centered on the face(s) of the canopy.
b. 
Sign copy shall not project above or below the canopy face.
4. 
Marquee sign. A type of on-building sign that is mounted to a permanent roof-like structure that projects out from the exterior wall of a structure and shelters the entrance and/or entrance approaches to a building.
a. 
Marquee signs shall be located only above the primary public entrance of a building facing a public street or parking lot.
b. 
The vertical distance from the top to the bottom of a marquee sign shall not exceed six feet.
c. 
No marquee sign shall extend closer to the curb than three feet.
d. 
Sign copy shall be horizontally and vertically centered on the face(s) of the marquee.
e. 
Marquee signs shall require a conditional use permit.
f. 
Alternative forms of sign lighting may be approved through the conditional use permit process.
5. 
Projecting sign. A type of on-building sign that is mounted at any angle other than parallel to the wall on which it is mounted, extends beyond 36 inches from the face of the wall, and/or is internally illuminated.
a. 
New projecting signs are not permitted in the City of Monroe. Existing projecting signs are permitted as legal nonconforming signs per the requirements of § 5-9-35.
(c) 
Pedestrian category. A sign attached perpendicularly to the facade of a building and mounted just above sidewalk level, and which is oriented and sized for visibility to nearby pedestrians rather than to motorists. The following pedestrian sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Blade sign. A type of pedestrian sign that is mounted perpendicular to the wall on which it is mounted, extends less than 36 inches from the wall, and is oriented to pedestrian traffic.
2. 
Suspended sign. A type of pedestrian sign that is mounted perpendicular to the nearest wall and suspended from the underside of a horizontal plane surface, such as a covered porch, arcade, or canopy.
(d) 
Daily notice sign category. A sign typically used to advertise daily specials, daily menu items, or on-site events that change on a daily basis and which usually includes changeable copy. This type of sign is often associated with restaurants, taverns, retail stores, music venues, and retail stores. The following daily notice sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Menu board sign. A type of daily notice sign mounted flat against a wall containing changeable copy.
a. 
Menu board signs shall be securely affixed to the exterior wall of the building containing the use.
b. 
Menu board signs shall not extend more than four inches from the wall on which they are mounted.
2. 
Sandwich board sign. A type of daily notice sign placed on the ground and constructed in such a manner as to form an "A" like shape, hinged or not hinged at the top, with each angular face held together at an appropriate distance by a supporting element such as a folding bar, latch, or chain.
a. 
Anything attached to a sandwich board sign shall not project outside the perimeter of the sign face nor project in excess of one inch from the sign face.
3. 
Bulletin board sign. A type of freestanding daily notice sign located on-site containing changeable copy.
4. 
Drive-through sign. A type of daily notice sign used in conjunction with drive-through or drive-in establishments.
a. 
Drive-through signs shall require a conditional use permit. The conditional use permit application for a drive-through sign is typically reviewed as a component of a conditional use permit application for an in-vehicle sales and service land use, but a drive-through sign may be applied for as a distinct conditional use permit.
b. 
Drive-through signs shall be freestanding or mounted on the exterior wall of the building containing the use.
c. 
Freestanding two-way microphone/speaker devices shall not count toward the maximum permitted area of the drive-through sign.
(2) 
Definitions and rules related to the temporary business signs group: Temporary business sign. A temporary sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service, or entertainment conducted, sold, offered, or manufactured upon the site where the sign is located. Temporary business signs do not require a sign permit and are typically used to promote temporary activities. "Temporary business signs" is a sign group containing various sign categories and sign types that a business is eligible to use. Temporary business signs include the following sign categories: window signs, temporary board and banner signs, and temporary approved development signs. See Figure 5-9-11(2) for additional rules for temporary business signs related to zoning districts.
(a) 
Window sign category. A sign located within a building that is attached to the inside face of an exterior window. The following window sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Window sign. A type of sign that is attached to the inside face of an exterior window. Window signs may face toward the outside of the building, the inside of the building, or both.
(b) 
Temporary board and banner sign category. A sign located on the outside of a building for up to two limited periods of display in a calendar year. Such signs are often used for the purpose of informing the public of a sale or special offer. The following temporary board and banner sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Board sign. A type of temporary board and banner sign that is temporarily placed on the ground and is made of rigid material such as plywood or corrugated plastic.
2. 
Banner sign. A type of temporary board and banner sign that is made of flexible material such as cloth or vinyl and is supported along one or more sides or at two or more corners by wires, ropes, string, nails, or other removable fastening materials.
(c) 
Temporary approved development sign category. A sign which is limited to display only during the active development of a building or plat. The following temporary approved development sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Active building board sign. A type of temporary approved development sign that is made of a rigid material such as plywood or corrugated plastic, which may be displayed only on the site of a building under construction, and only during the time period in which the building permit is valid.
2. 
Active plat board sign. A type of temporary approved development sign that is made of a rigid material such as plywood or corrugated plastic, which may be displayed only on the site of a subdivision plat under construction, and only during the time period when less than 75% of the lots in the plat phase have been sold.
3. 
Feather sign. A sign consisting of a piece of vertically elongated, flexible material such as cloth or vinyl which is affixed to a single pole driven in the ground.
4. 
Inflatable sign. A sign capable of being filled with and expanded by air or other gas, including includes animated or "dancing" inflatable signs.
(d) 
Prohibited temporary signs. Exterior signs or similar eye-catching devices with the characteristics described in § 5-9-30 are prohibited at all times by this chapter.
(3) 
Definitions and rules related to the permanent miscellaneous signs group: Permanent miscellaneous sign. A permanent sign that is available to all sites in the City regardless of land use, with the exception of the institutional information sign, which is only permitted in the Institutional Zoning District. "Permanent miscellaneous signs" is a sign group containing various sign categories and sign types that a site or business is eligible to use. Permanent miscellaneous signs includes the following sign categories: City-required signs and optional miscellaneous signs. See Figure 5-9-11(3) for additional rules for permanent miscellaneous signs related to zoning districts.
(a) 
City-required sign category. A sign category that includes signs that the City finds essential in order to protect the public health, safety, and/or welfare. Specifically, these signs are used to provide information essential to the following public purposes: to deliver mail; to identify property addresses for the provision of emergency services such as fire or rescue service; to identify the management of rental properties for the provision of emergency services; to provide information about parking limitations or warnings against trespassing; and to provide information about required traffic flow where a safe path to a destination is not evident. The following City-required sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Address sign. A type of City-required sign that contains address numerals.
2. 
Building management identification sign. A type of City-required sign indicating the name and/or address of the property owner, tenant, and/or manager of the property.
3. 
On-site warning sign. A type of City-required sign that indicates a warning from the property owner related to conditions on the site and/or that cites a City, state, or federal law, order, rule, or regulation. Such signs shall contain no commercial message. Examples include signs listing parking hours or "No Trespassing," "No Loitering," or "Customer Parking Only" signs.
4. 
On-site directional sign. A type of City-required sign that includes a directional arrow or symbol that directs people to a specific destination within a development or site. On-site directional signs may also include either the name, logo, or symbol of the destination, provided that the name, logo, or symbol is less than one square foot.
(b) 
Optional miscellaneous sign category. A sign category that conveys information which the City of Monroe finds essential to encourage placemaking and communicating public information, particularly related to officially recognized historic places, officially designated neighborhoods, identifying home occupations, and conveying information for the general public. Signs in this category are only permitted through official government action, including designation of historic places, creation of outlots in a plat or certified survey map, and the presence of the Institutional (I) Zoning District. The following optional miscellaneous sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Metal plaque sign. A type of optional miscellaneous sign available to officially recognized historic properties, sites, or districts, typically denoting the name of the building onto which it is mounted, its date of erection, and/or historical information.
2. 
Permanent plat sign. A type of optional miscellaneous sign typically indicating the name of a neighborhood, neighborhood association, or subdivision recognized by the City of Monroe.
a. 
Permanent plat signs shall require a conditional use permit.
b. 
Permanent plat signs shall be configured as dual post signs or monument signs.
c. 
Permanent plat signs shall be constructed of stone, wood, decorative metal, or composite materials that simulate the appearance of said materials.
d. 
Permanent plat signs shall be located in an outlot or public access easement that is depicted on the certified survey map or final plat.
3. 
Institutional information sign. A type of optional miscellaneous sign typically providing information to the community regarding scheduled public events, public activities, and public facilities.
a. 
Institutional information signs shall be permitted only in the Institutional Zoning District.
b. 
Institutional information signs shall require a conditional use permit.
c. 
Institutional information signs shall be configured as monument signs.
d. 
Institutional information signs may have changeable copy or be configured as an electronic message sign meeting the requirements of § 5-9-8.
(c) 
Home occupation signs. A type of optional miscellaneous sign used in association with home occupation occurring on-site.
1. 
Home occupation signs shall be permitted only in association with an active home occupation land use occurring on-site that conforms to the requirements of § 5-3-17(5).
2. 
Home occupation signs shall require a conditional use permit.
(4) 
Definitions and rules related to the temporary miscellaneous signs group:
TEMPORARY MISCELLANEOUS SIGN
A temporary sign that does not contain a commercial message. "Temporary miscellaneous signs" is a sign group containing one sign category, yard signs, which is available to all land uses. See Figure 5-9-11(4).
(a) 
Yard sign category. A sign category that is intended to accommodate a wide variety of sign purposes (e.g., garage sale signs, for sale signs, political signs, "slow down for kids" signs, etc.), often needed on a temporary basis. Such signs are freestanding and mounted on one or two stakes or posts and do not have footings. The following yard sign types are addressed by this chapter:
1. 
Stake sign. A type of yard sign that consists of a sign face erected upon one or more metal wires or wood, metal, or plastic stakes of no more than three inches in width.
2. 
Frame sign. A type of yard sign that consists of a frame into which a sign face can be inserted and erected upon two wood, metal, or plastic stakes or ground spikes.
3. 
Arm and post sign. A type of yard sign mounted on a post or posts, either with a bracket arm extending outward to support a hanging sign, with the sign attached directly to the side of the post, or with the sign mounted between two posts.
(5) 
Prohibited signs. Refer to § 5-9-30 for additional sign prohibitions and limitations.
(a) 
Abandoned sign. Any sign remaining in place on a site or a portion of a site (such as a single tenant in a multitenant building) that has been vacant, closed, or otherwise unoccupied for a period of 90 days.
(b) 
Advertising vehicle sign. A vehicle, trailer, or other piece of equipment which contains any sign or advertising device, which is unlicensed and/or inoperable, and which is parked on a public right-of-way or in a location that is not an active worksite so as to be seen from a public right-of-way.
1. 
Business vehicles legally parked in any of the locations described below shall not be considered advertising vehicle signs:
a. 
At the place of business in a parking space designated for company vehicle parking or storage on a site plan approved by the City.
b. 
On-site at the residence of an employee, including driveways and legal off-street parking spaces.
(c) 
Beacon/search beacon sign. Any light with one or more beams directed into the atmosphere or directed at one or more points not on the same site as the light source; also, any light with one or more beams that rotate or move.
(d) 
Commercial message flag sign. A flag attached to a freestanding or wall-mounted flag pole that contains a commercial message, logo, or colors.
(e) 
Flashing/scrolling/animated sign. A sign having lights or illumination which flashes, scrolls, moves, rotates, twinkles, blinks, flickers, varies in intensity of color, or uses intermittent electrical pulsations. Electronic message signs meeting the definition and requirements of § 5-9-8 of this chapter shall not be considered flashing, scrolling, or animated signs.
(f) 
Mobile/portable sign. A sign not permanently attached to the ground that is designed to be moved from one location to another. Also, a sign mounted on a frame or chassis designed to be easily relocated, including unlicensed or inoperable vehicles and/or trailers whose principal commercial use is for signage. Licensed and operable business vehicles, trailers, or other pieces of equipment shall not be considered mobile or portable signs. Sandwich board signs meeting the definition and requirements of § 5-9-5(1)(d)2. of this chapter shall not be considered mobile or portable signs.
(g) 
Off-premises advertising sign. A sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service, or entertainment that is conducted, sold, or offered elsewhere than upon the site where the sign is displayed. Off-premises advertising signs include billboards but do not include institutional information signs.
1. 
Existing legal off-premises advertising signs made nonconforming by this section shall be permitted to continue as legal, nonconforming signs, subject to the requirements of § 5-9-35.
(h) 
Roof sign. A sign displayed above the eaves or cornice of a building.
(6) 
Other definitions.
ADVERTISING
Any writing, painting, display, emblem, drawing, sign, or other device designed, used, or intended for display or any type of publicity for the purpose of making anything known or attracting attention to a place, product, goods, services, idea, or statement.
BUILDING FRONTAGE
The width of the building facade that fronts a public street.
BUSINESS/TENANT FRONTAGE
The portion of a building frontage occupied by a single tenant space having a public entrance within said building frontage. For businesses located on the interior of a building without building frontage, the building elevation providing customer access shall be considered the business frontage.
CHANGEABLE COPY
Sign copy that may be changed manually to provide different information such as boards with changeable letters, bulletin boards, and chalkboards. See § 5-9-8 for electronic message signs.
COMMERCIAL MESSAGE
Any sign wording, logo, or other representation that, directly or indirectly, names, advertises, or calls attention to a business product, service, idea, or commercial activity.
COPY
Words, letters, numbers, figures, designs, or other symbolic representations incorporated into a sign.
CUSTOMER ENTRANCE
The entrance that the public can use when an establishment is open to the public.
ELECTRONIC MESSAGE SIGN
See § 5-9-8.
ELEVATION, BUILDING
The view of any building or other structure from any one of four sides regardless of the configuration or orientation of a building. No building shall be treated as having more than four building elevations. Each elevation will generally be identified as a north, south, east or west building elevation.
EXTERNAL ILLUMINATION
The lighting of an object from a light source located a distance from the object.
FACADE
See "elevation, building."
HEIGHT OF SIGN
The vertical distance from the base of the sign at average grade to the top of the highest attached component of the sign. See § 5-9-15(2) for the measurement of sign height.
LIGHTING, AMBIENT
Illumination in which the only light that falls onto the sign comes from sources that are available naturally (e.g., sunlight, moonlight) or from artificial lighting sources used for other purposes in the vicinity of the sign (e.g., street lights, lighting installed for other purposes or sites).
LIGHTING, BACKLIT
Illumination that is arranged in such a way that the light is cast from behind the sign to the eyes of the viewer. Often, the lighting element is unshielded but concealed behind individual freestanding letters, creating a silhouette effect.
LIGHTING, GOOSENECK
Illumination resulting from light emitted directly from a shielded light fixture located at the top of the sign and angled downward onto the sign face. The light fixture is attached to a curved neck that is of 10 flexible, allowing the user to position the light source onto the sign face.
LIGHTING, INTERNAL
Illumination emanating from a lighting element that is located behind the sign face and which is completely enclosed. Such illumination is diffused through a translucent material such as plastic or frosted glass. This includes internally lit cabinets or internally lit individual letters or characters.
MAINTAIN
Maintaining the existing appearance of the sign; replacing the sign face or the supporting structure with identical materials, colors, and messages; changing the message of a marquee sign or institutional information sign; or changing the face of an off-premises advertising sign.
PLAT PHASE
The collection of lots, rights-of-ways, and outlots located within the perimeter boundary of a final plat.
SIGN AREA
The entire face of a sign, including the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, or other display, together with any material or color forming an integral part of the background of the display but not including any supporting framework. See § 5-9-15(4).
SIGN FACE
The area or display surface used for the message.
SITE
A site shall include all lots that are contiguous, under unified single ownership, and intended to remain under unified single ownership under the jurisdiction of this chapter. A site may also be determined to be a portion of a single lot where more than one building in a group development (approved by the City) contains separate businesses. For the purposes of this chapter, the site shall be determined by the Zoning Administrator.
TEMPORARY SIGN
A sign or advertising intended to be displayed for a certain limited period of time. If a sign display area is permanent, but the message displayed is subject to periodic changes, that sign shall not be considered as temporary. A mobile or portable sign shall not be considered a temporary sign or used for such a purpose. Refer to Figure 5-9-11(2) and Figure 5-9-11(4) for rules related to temporary signs.
THREE-DIMENSIONAL SIGNS
Signs that have a depth or relief on their surface. Where a sign consists of one or more three-dimensional objects (i.e., balls, cubes, clusters of objects, sculpture or statue-like trademarks), the sign area shall be measured as their maximum projection upon a vertical plane.
WINDOW PANE
The area defined by any combination of the window frame and mullions located within said frame.
(1) 
Electronic message sign. A type of sign that displays words, lines, logos, graphic images, or symbols, which may be changed electronically to provide different information, and which includes digital/computer signs, electronic reader boards, video screens, LCD signs, electronic time and temperature signs, and other signs with electronically controlled changing or moving displays.
(a) 
Electronic message signs shall require a conditional use permit.
(b) 
Electronic message signs shall be permitted only with a nonresidential land use.
(c) 
No more than one electronic message sign shall be permitted per site.
(d) 
Electronic message signs may be integrated into the design of the following sign types: monument signs, pylon signs, drive-through signs, or institutional information signs.
1. 
For monument signs, pylon signs, and drive-through signs, no more than 33% of a sign's actual area shall contain an electronic message sign.
2. 
For institutional information signs, no more than 75% of a sign's actual area shall contain an electronic message sign.
3. 
Electronic message signs shall count toward the site's maximum permitted signage.
(e) 
Messages and nontext images shall not change appearance more than once every 60 seconds, and transitions between messages shall be via instantaneous change. Use of electronic message signs for images, text, or lighting that change appearance in a manner not permitted above shall be considered flashing, scrolling, or animated signs, which are prohibited per § 5-9-30.
(f) 
Electronic message signs shall be equipped with photosensitive equipment which automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast of the sign in direct relation to the ambient outdoor illumination.
(g) 
Electronic message signs shall comply with the lighting requirements of § 5-7-25.
(h) 
Electronic message signs shall be maintained so as to be able to display messages in a complete and legible manner.
(i) 
In addition to the setback requirements of this chapter, no electronic message sign shall be located within 100 feet of any parcel within a residential zoning district.
(1) 
Fuel price signs. A type of sign that lists the price of gasoline sold on-site, as required by Wis. Stats. § 100.18(8).
(a) 
Fuel price signs shall not be separate signs, but rather shall be integrated into the design of a permitted monument sign or pylon sign, described in § 5-9-5(1)(a)1 and in Figure 5-9-11(1).
(b) 
Fuel price signs may list up to one price per type of fuel, which shall be displayed on a single structure.
(c) 
Fuel price signs may be illuminated, per the lighting requirements of § 5-7-25.
(d) 
Fuel price signs may contain changeable copy or electronic message signs per the requirements of § 5-9-8.
(1) 
In order to accommodate increased signage needs, group developments [as defined in § 5-7-2(2)(a)] and multitenant buildings with three tenants or more shall be permitted an increase in total permitted sign area and height. Large developments [per § 5-7-2(2)(b)] shall not be permitted an increase in total permitted sign area and height.
(a) 
Group development signs may be increased by up to 50% in area and up to and two feet in height from the sign area and height maximums permitted in the applicable zoning district.
(b) 
Each business shall be eligible for integration into a group development sign. The allocation of sign area for each tenant shall be determined by the property owner.
(c) 
Group development signs shall be configured as monument signs per § 5-9-5(1)(a)1, or pylon signs per § 5-9-5(1)(a)3 (where permitted).
(1) 
Signs shall be allowed on private property in the City in accordance with Figures 5-9-11(1) through 5-9-11(4). These four figures address signage as it relates to permits, quantity, area, location, lighting, and zoning districts. The requirements set forth in Figures 5-9-11(1) through 5-9-11(4) shall be declared to be part of this chapter.
(a) 
The rules for permanent business signs are located in Figure 5-9-11(1).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Said figure is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(b) 
The rules for temporary business signs are located in Figure 5-9-11(2).[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Said figure is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(c) 
The rules for permanent miscellaneous signs are located in Figure 5-9-11(3).[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: Said figure is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(d) 
The rules for temporary miscellaneous signs are located in Figure 5-9-11(4).[4]
[4]
Editor's Note: Said figure is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(e) 
Signage for all uses in the Planned Development Zoning District shall be permitted per the base zoning district and shall not be granted flexibility through the planned development process.
(f) 
Signage in the Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning District shall also be subject to the design guidelines in § 5-7-8.
(1) 
Sign setbacks. Freestanding signs shall be set back a distance of two feet from the property line, or per the visibility requirements of § 5-7-10, whichever is greater.
(2) 
Sign height.
(a) 
The height of a freestanding sign shall be measured from the average ground level adjacent to the sign to the top of the sign, or from the centerline grade of the nearest adjacent public road, if such information is supplied with the permit application and confirmed by the Zoning Administrator, whichever is higher.
(b) 
The average ground level is defined as the average elevation of the ground upon which the sign supports are placed, except when the sign supports rest upon a berm or other area elevated above the surrounding ground. In such cases, the average elevation of the base of such berm or other area shall be considered as the ground level.
(3) 
Minimum ground clearance. All awning, canopy, marquee, blade, and suspended signs shall have a minimum clearance of 14 feet above a drive, alley, or street and a minimum of eight feet above a sidewalk, path, trail, or other ground-level surface.
(4) 
Measurement of sign area: The measurement of sign area is based on the arrangement of sign copy and sign background:
(a) 
In the case of a freestanding sign (including three-dimensional objects), sign area shall include the total sign areas that can be viewed from any single vantage point, i.e., for a typical freestanding sign that faces two directions, only the largest sign face visible from any single vantage point shall count toward the total permitted sign area. Sign area shall not include any elements of the sign structure designed solely for support of the sign structure and located below or to the side of the sign message. Examples of parts of a freestanding sign structure which are exempt from the sign area include the sign base and the supporting columns, posts, or poles.
(b) 
For signs comprised of individual letters and related copy which are attached to a background surface with one or more neutral surface colors, sign area shall be measured as the sum of the smallest rectangle enclosing each letter or related copy. (See Example 1 in Figure 5-9-15.)
(c) 
For signs comprised of individual letters and related copy which are attached to a background surface with one or more nonneutral background colors, sign area shall be measured as the sum of the smallest rectangles and right triangles enclosing entire sign message and any and all nonneutral background color areas. (See Example 2 in Figure 5-9-15.)
(d) 
For signs comprised of letters and related copy surrounded by one or more sign background colors on a single panel, frame, or cabinet, the sign area shall be measured as the smallest single rectangle enclosing the entire sign message and any and all background color areas. (See Example 3 in Figure 5-9-15.)
(e) 
For signs comprised of individual letters and related copy surrounded by one or more sign background colors on individual panels, sign area shall be measured as the smallest single rectangle enclosing the entire sign message and any and all background color areas. (See Example 4 in Figure 5-9-15.)
(f) 
For signs comprised of one or more three-dimensional objects (i.e., balls, cubes, clusters of objects, sculpture or statue-like trademarks), the sign area shall be measured as their maximum projection upon a vertical plane.
Figure 5-9-15: Measurement of Sign Area
(1) 
Applicability.
(a) 
No permanent business signs listed under § 5-9-5(1) or optional miscellaneous signs listed under § 5-9-5(3)(b) shall be erected, installed, constructed, or maintained without the granting of a permit from the Zoning Administrator in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(b) 
For signs requiring a permit in Subsection (1)(a), above, this section shall apply and be construed to require a permit for a change of copy on any sign or for any conversions or changes in the sign structure.
(c) 
This section shall not apply to repainting or refacing with the same sign copy, cleaning, repair, or other normal maintenance of the sign or sign structure.
(d) 
No new permit is required for signs which are in place as of the effective date this chapter, and such signs may remain as legal nonconforming signs. Any alteration or relocation of such signs shall conform to the requirements of this chapter. Refer to § 5-9-35 for rules pertaining to nonconforming signs.
(e) 
Any sign permit granted hereunder may not be assigned or transferred to any other sign, including a modified sign face or modified sign structure.
(f) 
The owner or tenant may request all such signs at one site be included under one permit.
(2) 
Sign permit application. Each sign permit application shall include:
(a) 
The name, address, phone number, and email address of the applicant.
(b) 
The name of the business or land use the proposed sign will serve.
(c) 
The name, address, phone number, email address, and signature of the property owner.
(d) 
The name, address, phone number, and email address of the sign contractor.
(e) 
The property's zoning designation.
(f) 
The property's current land use or uses for entire subject property, including all indoor and outdoor areas.
(g) 
A signage plan, drawn to a recognizable scale, shall be submitted showing the following:
1. 
Location, type, height, width, and area of the proposed sign.
2. 
Location, type, height, width, and area of all existing signs on the property and indication of whether existing sign(s) will remain or be removed/replaced.
3. 
All property lines and buildings on the property and within 50 feet of the proposed sign.
4. 
All parking areas, driveways, and public roads.
5. 
Method of attachment, structural support, method of illumination, and sign materials.
6. 
Approximate value of the sign to be installed, including cost of installation.
7. 
Signage plans shall be approved and stamped by a professional engineer registered in the State of Wisconsin and accompanied by a statement of compliance with state laws.
(h) 
If the sign contractor is not UL listed, the applicant shall have an electrical subcontractor to supervise the work and obtain an electrical permit.
(i) 
Payment of the sign permit fee, as established from time to time by the Common Council.
(j) 
A written statement that all temporary signs will be removed per the limits.
(k) 
Any other information that may reasonably be requested by the Zoning Administrator for the purpose of application evaluation.
(l) 
Any existing or proposed sign on property abutting a state highway, United States highway, or interstate highway shall also require approval from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation or the Federal Highway Administration.
(3) 
Granting and issuance.
(a) 
The Zoning Administrator shall review the application to ensure it is complete per the requirements of Subsection (2), above.
(b) 
In cases where no other review or approvals are required under this chapter, the Zoning Administrator shall review said application for compliance with Subsection (4), below, and shall, in writing, either approve or deny said sign permit within 10 working days of the acceptance of the complete application and payment of the required fee.
(c) 
In certain cases, a sign permit may not be granted prior to the approval of a conditional use permit. In such cases, the Zoning Administrator shall review said application for compliance with Subsection (4), below, and shall schedule the item on the appropriate meeting agenda(s) within 10 working days of the acceptance of the complete application and payment of the required fee. Within 10 working days of recommendation or action by the body with recommending or approval authority, the Zoning Administrator shall approve or deny said sign permit based on such recommendation or action.
(d) 
Denial of a sign permit shall not result in total or partial reimbursement of permit fees paid.
(e) 
A granted sign permit shall expire, and shall be null and void, if the sign is not attached or erected within 180 days after the issuance of the sign permit.
(f) 
Issuance of a sign permit shall not relieve the applicant from obtaining other permits and approvals required by the City or other governmental authority.
(4) 
Basis for granting a sign permit. In deciding whether or not to grant a sign permit, the Zoning Administrator shall determine whether the proposed sign is in compliance with the provisions of this chapter. In such review, the Zoning Administrator may also consider the following factors:
(a) 
Whether the sign is designed, constructed, installed, or maintained in such a manner that it does not endanger public safety or traffic safety.
(b) 
Whether the sign is in compliance with all provisions of the City of Monroe Municipal Code and Building Code, including those related to traffic safety, traffic visibility, sign setbacks, and structural integrity.
(5) 
Enforcement and revocation of sign permit.
(a) 
A sign permit may be revoked if the applicant has failed to comply with the provisions of this chapter or any conditions that may have accompanied the permit at the time of issuance. Revocation requires written notice by either the Zoning Administrator for Zoning Ordinance violations or the Building Inspector for Building Code or other construction code violations.
(b) 
In the event that construction, installation, or manufacture of a sign for which a permit has been issued has not commenced within 180 days from the date of the issuance of such permit, said permit shall be null and void and automatically revoked. If work authorized by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of 90 days any time after the work is commenced, the original permit shall become null and void. In such cases, a new permit shall be obtained to complete the work and a new permit fee shall be required.
(c) 
Any sign subject to a revoked permit shall be removed by the licensee, sign owner, or property owner within 45 days of such revocation.
(d) 
Revocation shall not result in total or partial reimbursement of permit fees paid.
(6) 
Appeals.
(a) 
Appeal from decision of Zoning Administrator. A decision by the Zoning Administrator to disapprove, approve or conditionally approve issuance of a sign permit may be appealed to the Plan Commission by the applicant or by the City Administrator. Any appeal under this section shall be initiated by filing a written notice of appeal with the City Clerk within 10 days following the delivery of the Zoning Administrator's decision, or, if no decision is delivered within the time allowed by this chapter, within 10 days following expiration of the time allowed for processing the application. The City Clerk shall forward said notice of appeal to the Plan Commission, which shall consider such appeal within 30 days following receipt of the notice of appeal. Upon such appeal the Plan Commission may approve, disapprove or conditionally approve issuance of a sign permit. Failure of the Plan Commission to act upon an appeal within 30 days following receipt of the notice of appeal shall be considered to be a denial thereof as of the 30th day following such referral.
(b) 
Appeal from decision of Plan Commission. A decision by the Plan Commission to disapprove, approve or conditionally approve issuance of a sign permit may be appealed to the Council by the applicant or by the City Administrator. Any appeal under this section shall be initiated by filing a written notice of appeal with the City Clerk within 10 days following final action by the Plan Commission, or, if no final action is taken, within 10 days following the date the application is considered to have been denied by the Plan Commission. The Council shall consider such appeal within 30 days following the filing of the appeal with the City Clerk. Upon such appeal the Council may approve, disapprove or conditionally approve issuance of a sign permit.
(7) 
Removal of signs in violation of this chapter.
(a) 
If the Zoning Administrator determines that any sign exists in violation of this chapter, the Zoning Administrator shall notify the sign permit holder or the owner of the property on which the sign is located. Said notification shall indicate that such violation shall be corrected within 60 days of receipt of said notice on penalty of automatic revocation of any sign permit, and that removal of the sign by the City may occur at the expense of the owner of the property.
(b) 
If notification is sent and the violation is not corrected within 60 days, the Zoning Administrator shall revoke the permit for any sign which is in violation of this chapter. It shall be the duty of the Zoning Administrator to cause removal of such sign.
(c) 
The expense of removing such sign shall be charged to the owner of the property on which the sign is located. If the owner fails to pay such expense within one month of being billed therefor, or has not made arrangement for payment satisfactory to the City Attorney, then such expense shall become a lien on the property and shall be placed upon the tax roll.
(d) 
Any sign illegally placed in a public right-of-way shall be subject to immediate removal and confiscation without notice by the Zoning Administrator.
(8) 
See § 5-10-32 for procedures for design review in the Historic Preservation Overlay District.
The regulations contained in this section apply to signs in all zoning districts.
(1) 
Sign prohibitions.
(a) 
No sign shall be erected at any location where it may, by reason of its position, shape, color or design, interfere with, obstruct the view of, or be confused with any authorized traffic sign, signal or device, nor shall such sign make use of words such as "stop," "look," "danger," or any other word, phrase, symbol, or character in such a manner as to interfere with, mislead, or confuse users of streets or highways.
(b) 
No fluttering, undulating, swinging, rotating, or otherwise moving signs such as windsocks, motorized signs, pennants, and streamers shall be permitted. This shall not apply to banner signs as defined in § 5-9-5(2)(b)2.
(c) 
No signs shall project above the building parapet or eave.
(d) 
No flashing, scrolling, or animated signs shall be permitted.
(e) 
No signs shall be mounted to an unlicensed trailer or other unlicensed vehicle.
(f) 
No beacons or search beacons shall be permitted.
(g) 
No billboards or off-premises advertising signs shall be permitted.
(h) 
No abandoned signs shall be permitted. See § 5-9-5(5)(a).
(2) 
Sign limitations.
(a) 
No sign shall be erected, relocated, or maintained so as to prevent free ingress to or egress from any door, window, or fire escape, and no sign shall be attached to a standpipe or fire escape.
(b) 
No sign shall be placed in a manner that would impede vehicular or pedestrian safety or impede access or visibility. Signs shall meet the visibility requirements of § 5-7-10.
(c) 
No private sign shall be attached to or painted on any natural feature (e.g., tree or rock), fence, fire hydrant, public utility pole, public light pole, or traffic regulatory structure.
(d) 
Except for permitted awning, canopy, marquee, blade, and suspended signs, or unless otherwise allowed by this chapter, no sign shall be permitted within or extend into a public right-of-way.
(e) 
No person shall: paste, tape, staple, or otherwise fasten any paper or other material to, nor paint, stencil, or otherwise write or color any object, vegetation, or pavement located within any street right-of-way; nor shall any of such object, vegetation, or pavement be defaced in any manner. The only exception to these restrictions is that painting may be allowed on curbs when approved by the Common Council upon receiving a favorable recommendation from the Director of Public Works, after his/her investigation of a written request.
(1) 
All signs shall be constructed, mounted, and maintained so as to comply with the appropriate detailed provisions of the Building Code as adopted by the City relating to the design, structural members and connections. Signs shall also comply with the applicable provisions of the Electrical Code as adopted by the City.
(2) 
The base or support(s) of all ground-mounted signs shall be securely anchored to a concrete base or footing and shall meet applicable minimum wind load capabilities.
(3) 
The footing and related supporting structure of a permanent freestanding sign, including bolts, flanges, and brackets, shall be concealed by landscaping using the formula of two landscaping points for every foot of sign's width as measured on the sign face or sign base, whichever is greater.
(4) 
Signs shall be mounted so that the method of installation is concealed. Signs applied to masonry surfaces should be mechanically fastened to mortar joints only and not directly into brick or stone. Drilling to provide electrical service shall follow the same rule.
(5) 
No sign shall be suspended by chains or other devices that will allow the sign to swing due to wind action. Signs shall be anchored to minimize any lateral movement that would cause wear on the sign face or supporting members or connections.
(6) 
All permanent signs and their supporting members shall be constructed of standardized sign materials.
(7) 
Sign materials should be compatible with the design of the face of the facade where they are placed and should contribute to the legibility of the sign.
(8) 
No combustible materials other than approved plastics shall be used in the construction of electric signs.
(9) 
All signage within the jurisdiction of this chapter shall remain in a state of proper maintenance. Proper maintenance shall be the absence of loose materials (including peeling paint, paper or other material), the lack of excessive rust, the lack of excessive vibration or shaking, and the presence of the original structural integrity of the sign, its frame and other supports, its mounting, and all components thereof.
(10) 
Every freestanding or on-building sign hereafter erected shall have marked in a conspicuous place thereon the date of erection, the manufacturer's name, the permit number, and the voltage of any electrical apparatus used in connection therewith.
(11) 
The repainting, changing of parts, and preventive maintenance of signs which completely conform to the requirements of this chapter, and result in absolutely no change in the appearance of the sign from that originally approved, shall not be deemed alterations requiring a sign permit.
(12) 
The owner, lessee, or manager of a sign, and the owner of the land on which the same is located, shall keep grass or weeds and other growth cut and debris and rubbish cleaned up and removed from the site on which the sign is located.
(13) 
Any signs which may be, or may hereafter become, rotted, unsafe, or in a state which is not properly maintained shall be repaired or removed by the licensee or owner of the sign or owner of the property upon which the sign stands, upon notice of the Zoning Administrator.
(14) 
If any sign is suspended or projects above a public right-of-way, the issuance and continuation of a sign permit shall be conditioned on the sign owner agreeing to hold the City harmless, and obtaining and maintaining in force liability insurance for such a sign in such form and such amount as the City may reasonably from time to time determine, provided that the amount of such liability insurance shall be at least $500,000 per occurrence per sign.
(1) 
Nonconforming signs. Permanent signs existing as of the effective date of this chapter, which do not conform to the provisions of this chapter, such as brightness, scrolling, size, height, and location provisions, shall be nonconforming signs.
(2) 
Continuation of a nonconforming sign.
(a) 
Nonconforming signs may be maintained.
(b) 
Nonconforming signs shall not be altered or moved to a new location without being brought into compliance with the requirements of this chapter. See Subsection (3)(a), below, for what would constitute an alteration of a sign.
(c) 
When the principal structure located on the site undergoes a change of land use per the numbered land use categories described in §§ 5-3-6 through 5-3-16 (i.e., Subsections (1), (2), (3), etc.), all nonconforming signs shall be brought into conformance with the provisions of this chapter or shall be removed.
(d) 
Whenever there is a change in the sign user (excluding off-premises advertising signs), sign owner, or owner of the property on which the sign is located, the new sign user, sign owner, or new property owner shall forthwith notify the Zoning Administrator of the change. No new sign permit is required unless there is modification of the sign face or sign structure. The sign will continue to be considered nonconforming.
(3) 
Alteration of nonconforming signs.
(a) 
For the purpose of this section, alteration of a sign is considered to be any change to the sign's frame, supporting structure, material, height, location, or any other alterations as determined by the Zoning Administrator.
(b) 
Altering a sign does not include maintaining the existing appearance of the sign; changing the appearance of the sign face; replacing the sign face or the supporting structure with identical materials, colors, and messages; replacing the sign lighting with lighting of equal or lower illumination levels; changing the message of a marquee or institutional information sign; or changing the face of an off-premises advertising sign.
(c) 
A tenant sign which comprises part of a group development sign may be replaced to accommodate a new tenant sign without triggering the need to bring the entire project identification sign, or any of its parts, into compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
(1) 
A building, portion of a building, or site shall be determined to be vacated based on the following criteria: (1) vacancy, (2) cessation of some or all utilities, or (3) lapse or termination of occupational license. Vacation of a building, structure or site shall have the following effect:
(a) 
At 90 days, nonconforming signs shall lose their legal nonconforming status.
(b) 
At 90 days, the owner of the property shall take action regarding any permanent or temporary business signs and/or sign structures associated with the vacant building, portion of a building, or site located on the property. At the property owner's option, the property owner shall do one of the following: remove all such signs and structures, or replace the face of such signs with a blank sign face. If the property owner is granted an extension under Subsection (1)(c) below, the requirement shall not apply during the extension period.
(c) 
An extension allowing signs and/or sign structures associated with vacant buildings, portions of buildings, or sites to remain on the property for an additional six-month time period after the original 90 days have lapsed may be granted under the following conditions:
1. 
The property owner shall submit an application with the appropriate fee and allow staff to inspect the signs and/or sign structures on the vacated building, portion of a building, or site.
2. 
Staff shall review the application and sign to determine that the sign will not be a hazard, safety concern, or blight for the duration of the extended time period.
3. 
Signs shall be properly blanked out and contain no commercial message.
4. 
If the sign has been damaged during the vacated period to the point it becomes a safety hazard or blight on the property, staff may have the structure removed.
5. 
After the original six-month extension, one additional six-month extension may be approved by staff for up to one year upon submittal of a new application and fee. Any additional applications for an extension, beyond the first year, shall be approved by the Plan Commission.
6. 
Owners of nonconforming signs may also apply for an extension; however, the sign shall not thereafter be reestablished except in full compliance with this chapter.
(2) 
Sign structures that have been left without a sign face, or where the permit holder no longer has any interest in the site as owner or tenant, any of which for a continuous period of 90 days, shall be deemed abandoned and shall be removed by the owner of the sign structure or the City shall proceed to remove such sign structure pursuant to the terms of this chapter if the owner has not been granted an extension.
(3) 
If the sign and/or sign structure(s) have not been removed, the City shall send written notification to the property owner of record and/or last known occupant, via certified mail, return receipt requested, indicating that said property owner or occupant remove the sign and/or sign structure or apply for and be granted an extension. If the sign and/or sign structure have not been removed within 30 days after the City sends notice, and an extension has not been granted, the City may have the sign and/or sign structure removed.
(4) 
Any and all costs incurred by the City in the removal of a sign or sign structure pursuant to the provisions of this section, which authorized assessment of the cost, shall constitute a lien against the property upon which the sign or sign structure existed and shall be collected in the same manner as provided elsewhere in the regulations of the City of Monroe.
The fee for processing an application for issuance of a sign permit under this chapter shall be established from time to time by resolution of the Common Council.