Town of Arbor Vitae, WI
Vilas County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Arbor Vitae 11-17-1999 by Ord. No. 1-99. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Site design review — See Ch. 268.
Zoning — See Ch. 325.
The Arbor Vitae Sign Ordinance contains regulations for signs in Arbor Vitae in Vilas County. The purpose of these regulations is to require safe sign structures, protect good visibility along public rights-of-way, enhance the aesthetic quality of the landscape and promote effective and efficient signage opportunities for business in Arbor Vitae. The size, shape, design, color and placement of any sign and any lighting should be compatible to and harmonious with the building which it identifies and with the area in which it will be located.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
It shall be unlawful for any person to erect, construct, alter or relocate any sign within the zoning limits of Arbor Vitae without first obtaining a permit from the Plan Commission. Any person or persons in violations of any provision of this chapter or any lawful order of the Plan Commission shall be subject to a fine of $200 per offense. Each day that such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. All signs in Arbor Vitae shall require a permit which has been approved by the Plan Commission for a one-time fee of $100 to be issued by the Town Clerk with the following exceptions:
A. 
Real estate signs not exceeding 12 square feet in area which advertise the sale, rental or lease of the premises upon which said signs are located, provided such signs are removed upon the sale, rent or lease of the subject property.
B. 
Occupational and directory signs denoting only the name and profession or business use of an occupant in a dwelling, commercial or institutional building which are no more than six square feet.
C. 
Traffic or other governmental signs, legal notices, railroad crossing signs, danger and temporary emergency signs and construction signs located within public rights-of-way.
D. 
Temporary signs less than 24 square feet in size denoting owners, occupants, architects, engineers or contractors of improvements under construction providing such signs are removed upon completion of construction. If 24 to 32 square feet, a permit is required and can be obtained at the Town office for a fee. The permit would be good for 180 days and can be renewed at no additional cost.
E. 
Seasonal holiday decorations providing such decorations are removed within 60 days of the holiday or event.
F. 
Political signs not exceeding 12 square feet, providing such signs are removed within 10 days following election, except that a sign erected before a primary election may remain in place until seven days after the next general election if the sign solicits support for a candidate, political party or referendum question that is before the electorate in both the primary and general election.
G. 
Signs required in Section 5.7 of the Vilas County 85 Ordinance for the posting of shooting ranges for firearms.
H. 
Black and white residential directional signs measuring no greater than eight inches by five feet on four inches by four inches supports on all Town and county roads.
I. 
Local nonprofit organizations may promote a local event with signs no more than two weeks prior to the event; signs to be removed within 24 hours after the event. Maximum sandwich-board to be eight square feet per side.
J. 
The American flag, i.e., a fabric device following the design of the official national flag of the United States, displayed in accordance with applicable federal and state regulations, is exempt from this chapter. However, any graphical representation of the American flag shall be subject to all applicable provisions of this chapter.
All signs in Arbor Vitae shall be subject to the following standards.
A. 
Signage plan. No permit shall be issued for an individual sign requiring a permit unless and until a common signage plan for the property on which the sign will be erected has been submitted to the Plan Commission.
(1) 
Signage plan content. For any property on which the owner proposes to erect one or more signs requiring a permit, the owner shall submit to the Plan Commission a signage plan containing the following.
(a) 
An accurate plot plan of the property at such scale as the Plan Commission may reasonably require.
(b) 
Location of buildings, parking lots, driveways and landscaped areas on the property.
(c) 
The maximum area of each individual sign, the height of each sign, computation of the maximum total sign area, and:
(d) 
An accurate indication on the plot plan of the location of each existing sign.
(2) 
Freestanding sign. The Town of Arbor Vitae encourages the use of monument-style signs with use of landscaping at the base and a maximum height of 10 feet where the safety of the public entering the roadway is not a concern (i.e., sign too close to road, blocks visibility).
(a) 
No more than two off-premises directional signs relating to the advertising of a specific premises shall be permitted in any one direction along any one street, road or highway. No more than one freestanding on-premises sign shall be permitted. A double-face sign shall be considered one sign.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Original Subsection 2.b, which immediately followed this subsection, was repealed 6-21-2017.
(b) 
Sign size. The maximum area for any freestanding sign shall be 38 square feet for each sign facing, exclusive of supports. No sign shall exceed 18 feet above natural existing grade. If natural existing grade is below the grade of adjacent road, then the adjacent road grade shall be considered natural existing grade.
Exceptions:
[1] 
A monument sign with a maximum height of 10 feet shall be allowed an additional 20% increase in the total square footage, provided there is landscaped area surrounding the sign base equal in square footage to the size of the sign.
[2] 
If the sign placement is such that a proposed freestanding on-premises sign would be placed:
To 100 feet
38 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
60 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
101 feet to 200 feet
60 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
90 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
201 feet or more
108 square feet
[3] 
Any future speed limit reduction shall not cause existing signs to become nonconforming.
(3) 
Directory signs.
(a) 
When more than one separately licensed business establishment is located in a single building or property, a single directory sign is permitted for the entire building complex.
(b) 
The size of a freestanding on premise sign shall be computed based on the following formula: 38 square feet dedicated to the building or development name adjusted for speed and setback in the following manner:
To 100 feet
38 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
60 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
101 feet to 200 feet
60 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
90 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
201 feet or more
108 square feet
(c) 
Individual tenant sign size (up to four) shall be computed using the following formula:
To 100 feet
10 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
14 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
101 feet to 200 feet
14 square feet at 0 to 34 mph;
18 square feet at 35 to 55 mph
201 feet or more
22 square feet
(d) 
The individual tenant signs shall be of a coordinated design sharing all these design elements: size, shape and materials. Special consideration shall be given for any directory sign requiring more than four tenants.
A. 
Wall flat signs placed against the exterior walls of buildings shall not extend more than six inches out from the building's wall surface and shall not extend above the wall upon which it is placed.
(1) 
A business or use shall have no more than one permanent sign, other than a freestanding sign, for each building frontage and the sign must be placed on the corresponding building frontage, e.g., a business with two building frontages cannot place both signs on one of the building frontages.
(2) 
The maximum sign face area of an individual sign shall be a maximum of 108 square feet of the building face using the following formula measured from the center line of the adjacent roadway. A minimum of 38 square feet of the building face shall be available regardless of the building size.
(a) 
10% of the building face up to 100 feet.
(b) 
15% of the building face at 101 feet to 200 feet.
(c) 
20% of the building face at 201 feet or more.
(d) 
The square footage of the face shall be computed as the linear feet of the wall times the height of the wall measured to the eave line. These signs shall be on-premises only.
(3) 
Height and location of the sign will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and shall be proportional to the building.
B. 
Projecting or hanging signs shall not be located above the eave line of any building, and shall be a minimum of eight feet above grade when located adjacent to or projecting over a public right-of-way. No projecting sign shall extend more than four feet from a building wall and shall not exceed 12 inches in thickness and shall be maximum of 16 square feet.
C. 
Identification tag. Each sign or other advertising structure shall have affixed to it a permanent identification tag. This tag shall identify the owner of the land on which the sign is placed and the sign owner and the sign owner's telephone number. This identification tag shall not exceed one square foot in total size.
D. 
Ice shanty signage. Nothing other than the DNR-required name and address in letters not to exceed four inches in height are permitted on ice shanties.
A. 
All signs advertising products or services sold on the premises located within 75 feet of a navigable body of water must conform to state and local ordinances.
B. 
Signs which revolve or flash or consist of lighting which revolves or flashes are prohibited with the exception of devices which inform the public of the time and/or temperature. The use of beacon lights or illumination by flame is prohibited. Any lighting of a sign shall not be directed toward a neighboring residence or highway.
C. 
Signs which imitate an official traffic sign or signal, or which contain the words "stop," "go slow," "caution," "danger," "warning" or similar words shall not be permitted.
D. 
Signs which are of a size, location, movement, content, coloring or illumination which may be confused with or construed as a traffic control device shall not be permitted.
E. 
Signs which hide from view traffic or street sign or signal shall not be permitted.
F. 
Signs which obstruct the view in any direction at a street or road intersection are prohibited.
G. 
Signs graphically designed so as to detract from driver alertness through the use of brilliant colors, glare, motion, patterns or other devices shall not be permitted.
H. 
The posting of bills, posters, placards and circulars on utility poles shall be prohibited.
I. 
No bills, posters or signs are to be placed on private property without the express written consent of the property owner and must be placed in conformity with the Arbor Vitae ordinance. A copy of such consent must be attached to applications for permits for signs.
J. 
No bunting or similar flagging, street banners, or portable signs will be permitted to be displayed on the exterior of the premises, with the exception of a business advertising a grand opening or special event. These will be allowed for a period of time not to exceed one week prior to and one week following the opening date. Protective flagging for septic systems and other areas which require marking for reasons of health, safety or general welfare is exempt.
K. 
Posting of bills, posters, placards and circulars on trees is prohibited. Trees shall not be used as sign supports with the exception of "no trespassing" signs which are in conformity with Wisconsin Statute § 943.13, and official snowmobile and cross-country ski trail markers.
L. 
No sign advertising a business or product shall be located within 150 feet of a residential building without notification to the owners of the building. Notification must be by registered mail with the receipt attached to the application. This will be the applicant's responsibility.
M. 
Portable signs and signs on wheels are discouraged, but are considered signs subject to all of the restrictions of this chapter.
N. 
Off-premises signs are not allowed.
[Added 6-21-2017]
A. 
Any sign, whether on-premises or off-premises, erected prior to the date of the adoption of this amendment to Ord. No. 2-96 and which was constructed in compliance with the applicable sign ordinance in force at the time it was constructed shall be deemed "grandfathered" so long as it is not relocated or reconstructed. Any sign which is deemed "grandfathered" shall not be:
(1) 
Changed to another nonconforming sign except that a change of message shall not be considered a new structure, but will require a permit and review by the Plan Commission;
(2) 
Expanded;
(3) 
Reestablished after its discontinuance for a period of one year or more;
(4) 
Removed and replaced or relocated in whole or in part to another location unless said sign and the use thereof is made to conform to all the applicable provisions of this chapter.
B. 
If an existing "grandfathered" sign is damaged or destroyed by natural forces, e.g., violent wind, lightning or fire; acts of vandalism; or accidental damage, e.g., vehicular or aircraft collision, the sign may be repaired or reconstructed to the size, location, and use it had immediately before the damage occurred.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
It shall be the duty of the owner of any sign to maintain the sign in a state of good repair and safety. The Town Board may order repair of any sign in disrepair. The Town Board may order repair to be done within a set time, and in all cases of repairs ordered, the owner shall submit to the Town Board a letter certifying to the effect that the designated repairs have been made. A period of 45 days shall be allotted to have the repairs completed or the sign shall be removed. Notification of such removal action shall be made to the owner or responsible party within 10 days of the action to be taken. In all cases where any sign is eminently or obviously unsafe, the Town Board is authorized herewith to remove such sign as a public nuisance without any demand for removal or repair of the same upon the owner or any person maintaining such sign. The owner will be assessed for costs of removal.
Applications which request a variance shall be referred to the Plan Commission for a decision. A variance to the requirements of this chapter may be approved by the Plan Commission where it finds that the variance requested is for a sign with an exceptional design, style, size, circumstance or distance.
A. 
Variance appeal process. The applicant can appeal the Plan Commission decision to the Town Board requiring a majority voting margin to overturn the Commission's decision.
A. 
Complete application for a sign permit shall be submitted to the Plan Commission and shall include:
(1) 
Name, address and telephone number of the applicant, owner and owner of the sign;
(2) 
Location of the building structure or parcel of property to which or upon which the sign is to be attached or erected;
(3) 
Position of sign in relation to nearby buildings, structures, property lines and rights-of-way;
(4) 
Sketch showing sign faces and designs thereon, exposed surfaces, and proposed finish, accurately represented in scale as to size, area, proportion and color;
(5) 
Name of person, firm, corporation or association erecting proposed sign;
(6) 
Such other information as the Plan Commission shall require to show full compliance with this and all other laws and ordinances of Arbor Vitae.
B. 
Said sign shall be subject to review and approval by the Arbor Vitae Planning Commission. In reviewing a sign permit application, the Plan Commission shall apply the following sign review criteria as a basis for action: use of natural materials and landscaping is encouraged, i.e., four-feet-by-eight-feet sheets of plywood or plastic are discouraged. Lighting should be direct, soft and shielded. Sign applications shall be accepted or rejected within 30 working days of filing. If the approved sign is not completed within 12 months after the date of issuance, the permit shall become null and void. A twelve-month extension is available without further cost or review.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AWNING SIGN
Any sign or graphic attached to, painted on or applied to an awning or awning canopy. Any portion of an awning containing the name of a business, or is otherwise a sign, shall be treated as sign. The size is determined by measuring the rectangle containing any graphic and/or letters.
BANNER
A long strip of cloth or material affixed to a pole, wire or rope which is located outdoors and which has lettering on it as an advertisement, greeting or similar message.
BUILDING FACE COMPUTATION
The square footage of the face shall be computed as the linear feet of the wall times the height of the wall measured to the eave line.
BUILDING FRONTAGE
The width of a building facing a street, or where a mall exists, building frontage means that portion of the mall which is perpendicular to the street. In the case of a corner lot, the building frontage may be either of the street frontages, but not both, at the option of the property owner.
CUT-OUT LETTERS
Cut-out letters mounted on a building surface, and letters painted on a building are wall signs.
DIRECTIONAL SIGN
The traditional "arrow" signs that display the names of establishments.
DIRECTORY SIGN
A sign that serves as a common or collective identification of two or more uses on the same property and which may contain a directory to the uses as an integral part thereof or may serve as a general identification for such developments as shopping centers, office buildings, industrial parks and similar uses.
DOUBLE-FACED SIGN
The two sides of a double-faced sign must be parallel back-to-back and no thicker than 12 inches.
FLASHING SIGN
A sign whose illumination is not kept constant in intensity at all times when in use and which exhibits changes in light, color, direction or animation. Illuminated signs which indicate the date, time and temperature will not be considered flashing signs.
FREESTANDING SIGN
A sign that is supported by one or more columns, upright poles or braces extended from the ground or from an object on the ground, or that is erected on the ground where no part of the sign is attached to any part of a building, structure, or other sign.
LIGHTING, INDIRECT
A light source separated from the sign surface, which illuminates the sign surface by means of spotlights or similar lighting fixtures.
LIGHTING, INTERNAL
A light source enclosed within a sign, which illuminates a sign by shining through a translucent surface of the sign.
NONCONFORMING SIGN
Any sign that was constructed in compliance with the applicable requirements in force at the time it was installed, but which does not comply with all of the regulations of this chapter or of any amendment hereto governing signs.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
OFF-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which advertises a business, merchandise, product, service or entertainment which is offered elsewhere than upon the premises where the sign is displayed.
ON-PREMISES SIGN
A sign which advertises a business, merchandise, product, service or entertainment which is offered on the premises where the sign is displayed.
PORTABLE SIGN
Any sign which is designed to be transported by trailer or on its own wheels, including such signs, even though the wheels may be removed.
PROJECTING SIGN
A sign, other than a wall sign, which projects six inches or more from, and is supported by, a wall of a building or structure typically having two or more viewable sides, but for purposes of this chapter, only one side need be counted as a side for measuring its allowable area and the total sign count.
SANDWICH BOARD
A sign that is constructed with two pieces of material, connected at the top, which pieces form a triangular shape and are self-supporting.
SIGN AREA
Shall be based upon the entire area of the sign with a single continuous perimeter enclosing the extreme limits of the actual sign surface, including trim and borders, but excluding the structure upon which the sign is placed.
SIGN or GRAPHIC
Any letters, pictorial representation, symbol, flag, emblem, illuminated devices, displayed in any matter whatsoever, which is used to attract attention to the subject matter for the purpose of advertising or proposing a commercial transaction and which is visible by the general public from any public right-of-way or public area. However, this shall not include any official flag, emblem or insignia of a government, school or religious group when displayed for official purposes.
SIGN OWNER
The permittee with respect to any sign for which a sign permit has been issued, or with respect to a sign for which no sign permit is required, or for which no sign permit has been obtained, "sign owner" means the person entitled to possession of such sign, the owner, occupant and agent of the property where the sign is located and any person deriving a benefit from the sign.
SIGN STRUCTURE
The poles, uprights, braces or framework necessary to support a sign.
WALL SIGN
Any sign attached to, painted on, or erected against the building or structure, including the smallest square, circle, rectangle, triangle, or combination thereof that will encompass the extreme limits of the writing, representation, emblem, or other display, together with any structure and/or material or color forming an integral part of the background of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the backdrop or structure against which it is placed.