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West Bend Plan Commission to address large sign request from Washington County tonight

June 1, 2021 – Washington Co., Wi – The West Bend Plan Commission will review a monument sign proposed by Washington County at its meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The meeting is open to the public.

huge sign


This is a very large monument sign proposed for the corner of N. Indiana Avenue and E. Washington Street.

A couple updates:

  • This is a Plan Commission meeting, however, public comment will be allowed from neighbors who received the public notice.
  • “We have received several complaints,” said Mark Piotrowicz, director of development. “We chose to send out a notice a little further than the 200-foot limit. It was probably to the properties on Indiana Avenue, north of Highway 33.”
  • “The state is not subject under statues under local zoning,” said Piotrowicz. “The county is set up as an agent of the state. Since it is on county property, it is not the individual who is putting the sign up … it is county property and the county is the applicant for this project because it is on their site.
  • “We have advised the agent this is not subject to our zoning. I told them the City would not issue a permit for their sign because it exceeds our codes.
  • The issue the Plan Commission is acting on tonight is NOT about the location of the sign but they are being asked to approve sign exemptions for the height, width and overall size for an off-premise sign.
  • “Asking for a sign exception is only going to go before the Plan Commission. It does not have to go before the Common Council,” said Piotrowicz.
  • If the Plan Commission votes down the size of the sign, Piotrowicz is not required to issue a permit and then the county can still move forward and take it to the county board. “If they want to ignore community standards, there is nothing I can do about that,” said Piotrowicz.

The sign proposal qualifies as an off-premise sign and is restricted to 32 sq. ft. in accordance with 17.48(6)(d).  The sign request identifies the overall sign to be 652.5 sq. ft.

Wisconsin Community Signs has submitted a request for multiple sign exceptions for an off-premise ground sign containing a large electronic message center to be located approximately 226’ east of the intersection of N. Indiana Avenue and E. Washington Street at 432 E. Washington Street. The lands where the sign is being proposed is owned by Washington County.  The County Board has approved a lease agreement with Wisconsin Sign for the use of the lands for an electronic message center ground sign.

17.48(6) regulates off premise signs in the City.  The sign proposal qualifies as an off-premise sign and is restricted to 32 sq. ft. in accordance with 17.48(6)(d).  The sign request identifies the overall sign to be 652.5 sq. ft.  This far exceeds the requirements of the 32 sq. ft.  The applicant is requesting an exception to the sign size requirement for the off -premise sign.  In accordance with 17.48(8) The Plan Commission may modify the sign restrictions within 17.48 to overcome constraints due to poor site visibility, excessive setbacks or other physical constraints.

17.48 (10)(b)2 of the sign code requires electronic message centers to be 16 sq. ft. per side or less in area and limited to a total of 32 sq. ft. per parcel, or the developer may request an Urban Design exception from Plan Commission for an oversized sign after a Class 1 public hearing has been held.

Wisconsin Sign is requesting the Plan Commission to consider an Urban Design exception to allow for a 200 sq. ft. electronic message center.

Fair Park

17.47 (4)(d)2 of the urban design standards permits the maximum height of a sign to be 22’.  The sign proposal has the overall sign height at 22’-6”.  The applicant is requesting an Urban Design exception to permit the 22’-6” overall sign height.

Given the visibility of the sign location from the neighboring residential lots to the west, an auto-dimming feature would normally be required to minimize the impact of glare from the sign.

A narrative letter has been submitted by Wisconsin Community Signs explaining the request for the sign submittal.  The letter explains that the main function of the sign will be utilized as a community sign for advertising and supporting local businesses.

All owners of property within 200′ of the proposed ground sign have been notified and as of this date.  Staff has not received any inquiries.

Planning Staff for the City of West Bend has reviewed the request and found no justification for the sign exceptions for the overall oversized sign size for the off- premise sign.  There are no constraints for visibility or adverse grades.  Staff is also not in favor of an exception for the oversized electronic message center or for the Urban Design exception for the overall sign height.  Staff feels there are no exceptional circumstances or site constraints to justify the need for a 652.5 sq. ft. sign with a 200 sq. ft. electronic message center and a sign height exceeding 22’.  The grades on the site are flat, the location of the sign is within 10’ of the property line and there are obstructions to visibility. Based upon the above findings, we recommend denial of the site plan and requested sign exceptions.

On a final note: Washington County does not really need to comply with City of West Bend code. The request will simply be a formality…

Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

Click HERE to contact your Washington County Supervisor.

Murphy & Prachthauser

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