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Municipal Code

Chapter 24. Sign Code

Sec. 24-03. Approval process.

This sign code provides three types of sign applications. A standard sign permit application is intended for signs that conform to the terms of this sign code and require no special conditions. An alternative sign permit application is intended for signs that are not contemplated by the specific terms of this sign code and require modifications of those terms for approval. A limited sign permit application is intended for short-term use of signs that are temporary in nature.

(1) Application required. No sign or sign structure shall be altered, displayed or changed, including a change of copy, color or sign face, until the appropriate fee is paid to the city and a sign permit is issued by the city unless the sign is specifically exempt from a permit requirement pursuant to section 24-06. The common council is authorized to establish fees for all applications and permits required by the sign code. Normal maintenance shall not be considered alteration or change unless it exceeds 50 percent of the present value of the sign. A sign erected, altered, displayed or changed without a permit shall be considered an illegal sign and shall be subject to the penalties described in this sign code.

(2) Form. Applications for sign permits shall be made upon forms provided by the department of planning and economic development.

(3) Complete application. Within ten business days of the submission of an application for a sign permit, the director of planning and economic development shall determine whether the application is complete and in compliance with the requirements of this sign code. Complete applications shall be processed in accordance with this section of the sign code. The director of planning and economic development will attempt to provide the applicant of an incomplete application with a written description of the application's deficiencies within the ten-day review period. The director of planning and economic development shall not process incomplete applications.

(4) Information required for standard and alternative sign permit application. Both standard and alternative sign permit applications shall include the information specified on the application form. At a minimum, this shall include:

  1. Scale drawings showing elevations of the proposed sign, relationship to buildings and other signs, and location of the foundation or post hole location in relation to the property line and public right-of-way;
  2. Sign legend or commercial message, lettering or font style, and colors;
  3. Construction specifications;
  4. Electrical components and wiring;
  5. Method of attachment and design of structured members to which attachment is to be made;
  6. Location of foundation or post hole location in relation to the property line and public right-of-way;
  7. Name, address, telephone number and signature of property owner granting permission for the construction, operation, maintenance or display of sign structure;
  8. Name, address, telephone number, occupational license number and signature of sign contractor, if applicable;
  9. Legal description and street address of premises or property upon which sign is to be located;
  10. Use of property, lot, building or structure for which sign will provide information or advertising;
  11. Approximate value of the sign to be installed, including the cost of installation; and
  12. Other information, as may be reasonably required by the city administrator or director of planning and economic development.

(5) Information required for limited sign permit applications. A limited sign permit application shall include the sign size and all reasonable measurements, location, materials and time duration, along with such information as is deemed necessary by the director of planning and economic development.

(6) Oversight committees.   Applications for sign permits in the central business district shall be reviewed as provided in this sign code with additional review and recommendation made by the sign oversight committee based upon the policies and regulations adopted by the committee.

(7) Review and action. Upon the submission of a complete application, the director of planning and economic development shall process the application within 15 working days according to one of the following procedures: standard, alternative or limited sign permit application. The director of planning and economic development shall either issue the standard or limited sign permit or notify the applicant in writing of his denial and reasons thereof, according to the procedures outlined in this subsection.

The director of planning and economic development shall schedule alternative and specified standard sign permit applications (see below) with the plan commission for consideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the plan commission pursuant to the plan commission calendar.

The director of planning and economic development shall:

Standard ApplicationAlternative Application
(a) Obtain recommendation of oversight committee where applicable.

(b) If the application is seeking master sign plan approval or submitted with a development application subject to plan commission review, the director of planning and economic development shall review and make a recommendation to the plan commission.

(c) If section (b) above is not applicable, the director of planning and economic development shall approve the application if it is in compliance (complies with all terms and specifications) with the requirements of this sign code and other applicable city regulations; or

(d) If Section 2 (b) above is not applicable, the director of planning and economic development shall deny the application if it fails to comply in any manner with the requirements of this sign code or other applicable city regulation.
(a) Obtain recommendation of oversight committee where applicable.

(b) Review the application to determine general compliance with the terms of this Sign Code and the approval criteria specified in Section.

(c) Schedule the application for review and action by the plan commission.
Limited Sign Permit Application
Limited sign permit applications shall be checked for conformance with the sign code and may be approved by the director of planning and economic development for a specified period of time.
Application Denial
If an application is denied (either by the director of planning and economic development for a standard or limited sign permit, or by the plan commission for an alternative sign permit or certain standard sign permit for master sign plans), the director of planning and economic development shall provide the applicant with a written notice of the denial within five business days of the denial.

(8) Criteria for approval.

Standard and Limited ApplicationsAlternative Application
(a) Submission of a complete application.

(b) Compliance with the terms of this sign code.

(c) Compliance with Veterans Parkway Corridor requirements for property located within the district.

(d) Compliance with downtown guidelines for property located within the district
(a) Submission of a complete application.

(b) General compliance with the general intent and purpose of this sign code.
(c) The design and location of the sign would not interfere with pedestrian or vehicular safety.
(d) The sign would not be located so as to have a negative impact on adjacent property.
(e) The sign would not add to an overproliferation of signs on a property or cause needless repetition or redundancy of signage.

(f) The sign utilizes and/or enhances the architectural elements of the building.

(g) The image presented by the sign is of high quality and is consistent or compatible with the surrounding area as a whole.

(h) Compliance with special criteria for Veteran's Parkway and central business district.

(9) Special criteria for central business district.  This district represents an area of distinctive or unique character within the City of Marshfield. Applicants for sign approval within the central business district may use the alternative sign permit application process to propose sign approvals that would be inappropriate due to size or design elsewhere in the city. Questions regarding additional constraints should be directed to the department of planning and economic development.

  1. Central business district. The central business district is defined by the boundaries of all property within the City of Marshfield currently located within the "B-5" zoning district. It is a pedestrian oriented district that is characterized by many buildings that have no front property line setback. It is equally important which signage be viewed by pedestrians as well as by motorists.
    The central business district oversight committee will adopt design guidelines that will be reviewed by the director of planning and economic development and approved by the plan commission.

    Applicants may be granted latitude in signage design under the alternative application process for setback allowances, overhang dimensions, marquee signs and other signage characteristics that contribute to the pedestrian or urban nature of this district.
  2. Veterans Parkway. The Veterans Parkway corridor shall be defined as 100 feet beyond the public right-of-way on each side of the parkway, except for those properties within the central business district, within the city limits, and such properties as may be added to that district from time to time. Authorized signs include those that are compatible with their surroundings, are appropriate to the activity that displays them, are expressive of the identity of individual activities and the corridor as a whole, and are legible in circumstances in which they are seen. The planning and economic development department will review all sign applications in the Veterans Parkway corridor.

    In addition to the general signage requirements contained within this sign code, the following shall apply within the Veterans Parkway corridor:
    1. Height. No multi-tenant signs shall exceed a height based on a rate of one foot of height per one foot of distance from any right-of-way line, starting with a minimum of eight feet in height up to a maximum of 15 feet in height for signs visible from Veterans Parkway and a maximum of ten feet in height for signs visible from other streets or public right-of-ways.
    2. Freestanding business signs. Signs for individual freestanding office, flex tech, industrial or commercial buildings will be permitted when no multitenant sign can be obtained. No lot may have both a multi-tenant sign and a separate freestanding business sign.
    3. Prohibited signs. Signs in excess of 200 square feet in area shall be prohibited in the Veterans Parkway corridor.
    4. Signage area. Signage area in the Veterans Parkway corridor shall be governed by the following standards:
Type of Roadway (lanes)Posted Speed (mph)Maximum Sign Area Commercial/ Industrial Surroundings (square feet)Maximum Sign Area Institutional/ Residential Surroundings (square feet)
2Up to 40
Over 40
35
75
20
50
4Up to 40
Over 40
50
100
35
80

(10) Appeals.

  1. Any final determination, made by the director of planning and economic development may be appealed to the plan commission by filing a written notice of appeal with the director of planning and economic development within ten days of the determination.
    1. The director of planning and economic development shall transmit to the plan commission all papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed was taken.
    2. The director of planning and economic development shall schedule the appeal or application at the next regular meeting of the plan commission following the first regular meeting after the determination.
    3. The plan commission shall have 30 days from the date said matter is first scheduled for its meeting in which to act on the application or appeal.
    4. Appeal may be taken by the applicant, any owner of land directly affected by the determination, any person determined by the plan commission to be actually aggrieved by the determination, or any person otherwise given the standing to appeal by law.
  2. Any final determination of the plan commission may be appealed to the circuit court except as provided herein.
  3. Any determination of the director of planning and economic development that has been altered in any way on appeal or through alternative permit application or master sign application, to the plan commission may be appealed to the council by filing a written notice of appeal with the director of planning and economic development within ten days of the determination.
    1. The director of planning and economic development shall transmit to the common council all papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed was taken.
    2. The director of planning and economic development shall schedule the appeal or application at the next regular meeting of the common council following the first regular meeting after the determination.
    3. The common council shall have 30 days from the date said matter is first scheduled for its meeting in which to act on the application or appeal.
    4. Appeal may be taken by the applicant, the director of planning and economic development, any owner of land directly affected by the determination, any person determined by the common council to be actually or potentially aggrieved by the determination, or any person otherwise given the right of appeal by law.
  4. Any final determination of the common council may be appealed to the circuit court.

(11) Inspections and certificates of compliance.

  1. Within 5 business days of completion of work under an approved sign permit, the sign installer shall file with the director of planning and economic development a notice of completion, on a form to be provided by the department of planning and economic development.  If the construction is complete and in full compliance with this sign code, the director of planning and economic development shall sign the notice of completion and send a copy to the applicant within 5 business days of receipt of the notice.
  2. If the construction is not in full compliance with this sign code, the director of planning and economic development shall give the property owner or tenant notice of the deficiencies and shall allow an additional 30 days from the date of inspection for the deficiencies to be corrected.
  3. If the deficiencies are not corrected by the date identified by the director of planning and economic development, the sign permit shall lapse and the sign shall be removed immediately.
  4. If the construction is in full compliance and the deficiencies are corrected, the director of planning and economic development shall signi the notice of completion and send a copy to the applicant.

(12) Suspension/revocation. The director of planning and economic development may, in writing, suspend or revoke a permit issued pursuant to this sign code where the permit is issued on the basis of a material omission or misstatement of fact.

(13) Expiration.

  1. It is unlawful to maintain a sign or sign structure without a validly issued sign permit unless the sign is specifically exempt from a permit requirement pursuant to this sign code.
  2. Issued permits shall expire and become void if the work authorized by the permit is not completed within 180 days from the date of permit issuance, or if the work is abandoned (as evidenced by failure to make reasonable progress) for a period of 30 days or more at any time after the work is commenced. Before such work can be commenced or resumed thereafter, a new permit shall be obtained and a fee of one-half the amount required for a new permit shall be paid to the city, provided no changes have been made in the original plans and specifications and, further provided, that the permit issuance date has not exceeded one year.
  3. A sign permit shall lapse and be of no further effect if the business activity on the premises or business to which the sign permit is related, is discontinued for a period of 90 days.

(14) License requirements for sign installers. All sign installers shall have an electrical license to perform electrical work on illuminated or neon signs (including installation), as required by sections 17-03 and 17-38(1) of the electrical code.

Exception: Section 17-38(4) of the electrical code provides that non-licensed installers can perform electrical work if the sign company is qualified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) to manufacture and work on listed signs. These sign companies shall register with the electrical inspector's office and provide proof of qualification and a minimum of $500,000 of liability insurance.

(Ord. No. 987, 1—3, 9-9-2003; Ord. No. 999, 1—3, 10-27-2003; Ord. No. 1008, 0, 3-9-2004; Ord. No. 1050, 1, 5-24-2005; Ord. No. 1136, 1, 8-26-2008)