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Municipal Code

Chapter 24. Sign Code

Sec. 24-04. Violations and enforcement.

It is hereby declared unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to construct, place, install, alter, change, maintain, use or permit the construction, placement, installation, alteration, change, maintenance or use of any sign contrary to or in violation of any provision of this sign code, or of any provision designated as a condition of approval of a sign permit, either by the approval processes specified herein or through an amendment or appeal to the plan commission as established by this sign code. Enforcement will be handle by the department of planning and economic development or its designee.

(1) Illegal signs. The installation, construction or display of any illegal or prohibited sign is hereby declared unlawful and in violation of this sign code.

(2) Responsible parties. Any owner, tenant or occupant who causes, facilitates, aids or abets any violations of this sign code, or who fails to perform any act or duty required by this sign code is subject to the enforcement provisions of this section. The owner, tenant and occupant may be held individually and jointly responsible for the violations, prescribed civil or criminal sanctions, and for abating violations.

The city shall have the following remedies and enforcement powers:

  1. Voluntary compliance. The director of planning and economic development may seek voluntary compliance with the provisions of this sign code through notices of violations, warnings or other informal devices designed to achieve compliance in the most efficient and effective manner under the circumstances.
  2. Withhold permits.
    1. The city may deny or withhold all permits, certificates or other forms of authorization issued pursuant to this sign code or other code provisions, ordinances or regulations for any land, structure or use upon which there is an uncorrected violation of a provision of this sign code or an unmet condition or qualification of a permit, certificate, approval or authorization previously granted by the city. As an alternative, the city may grant authorization subject to the condition that the violation be corrected. This enforcement provision shall apply regardless of whether the current owner or applicant is responsible for the violation in question.

(3) Revoke or suspend permits.

  1. Any permit may be ordered revoked or suspended by the director of planning and economic development when there is a determination that:
    1. There is a departure from the plans, specifications or conditions as required pursuant to the terms of this sign code and/or the permit issued;
    2. The same was procured by false representation or misstatement of fact; or
    3. Any provision of this sign code is being violated.
  2. Written notice of the revocation shall be served upon the owner, owner's agent or contractor, or upon any person employed in the construction or maintenance of the sign for which the permit was issued, or shall be posted in a prominent location;

(4) Stop work. With or without revoking permits, the city may order work stopped on any sign on any land on which there is an uncorrected violation of a provision of this sign code or other city ordinances.

(5) Injunctive relief. The city may seek injunctive or other equitable relief in court to stop any violation of this sign code or of a permit, certificate or other form of authorization granted hereunder.

(6) Abatement. The city may seek a court order in the nature of mandamus, abatement, injunction or other action or proceeding to abate or remove a violation or to otherwise restore the sign or premises in question to the condition in which they existed prior to the violation.

(7) Other remedies. The city shall have all such other remedies as are or may become available from time to time as provided by federal or Wisconsin law, this sign code or other related provisions.

(8) Remedies cumulative. The remedies and enforcement powers established in this sign code shall be cumulative.

(9) Penalties. The owner or general agent of a building or use where a violation of any provision of this sign code has been committed or exists, or the lessee or tenant of an entire building or entire premises where a violation has been committed or exists, or the owner, general agent, lessee or tenant of any part of the building or premises in which a violation has been committed or exists, or the general agent, architect, builder, contractor or any other person who commits, takes part in or assists in any violation or who maintains any building or premises in which any violation exists shall be guilty of an offense punishable by a fine of not less than $10.00 and not more than $500.00 for each and every day that such violation continues.

(10) Habitual offenders. For the second and subsequent offenses involving the same violation (defined as each individually identified sign violation) at the same building or premises, the punishment shall be a fine of not less than $250.00 or more than $500.00 for each and every day that such violation shall continue.

(11) Enforcement procedures.

  1. Non-emergency matters. In the case of violations of this sign code that do not constitute an emergency or require immediate attention, the director of planning and economic development shall give notice of the nature of the violation to the property owner or to any other person identified by the permit or application as responsible for the sign in some manner, or to the applicant for any relevant permit in the manner described below. The person receiving the notice shall have ten days to correct the violation, unless otherwise stated in the notice, after which further enforcement action shall be taken.
    1. Unless specified otherwise in this sign code, notice shall be given in person, by United States mail postage prepaid, or by posting notice on the premises.
    2. Notice of the violation shall state the nature of the violation and the time period for compliance. The notice may state corrective steps necessary and the nature of subsequent penalties and enforcement action, should the situation not be corrected.
  2. Emergency matters. In the case of violations of this sign code that constitute an emergency situation as a result of safety or public concerns or violations that will create increased problems or costs if not corrected immediately, the city may use the enforcement powers available under this sign code without prior notice. The director of planning and economic development shall attempt to give notice simultaneously with the beginning of an enforcement action.
  3. Specific limited permit signs. Real estate, construction and special event signs are subject to removal pursuant to the following provisions:
    1. In view of the inexpensive nature of these signs and the administrative burden imposed by the non-emergency enforcement provisions, the director of planning and economic development is authorized to direct the summary removal of such signs when the same are unlawfully erected and/or maintained.
    2. After the summary removal of a sign pursuant to this section, the director of planning and economic development shall notify the property occupant, owner, or other responsible party of the removal by one of the methods described in subsection (11)(a)1 above. If the sign identifies a party other than the occupant, the director of planning and economic development shall notify that party. If the sign is removed from public property or an off-premises location, no notice is required prior to disposal.
    3. The notice shall state that the sign has been removed and identify the location to which the city has moved the sign.

(Ord. No. 987, 1—3, 9-9-2003; Ord. No. 999, 1—3, 10-27-2003)