Bridging the Fox Cities



Welcome to the Town of Menasha






(1)  Overview:

This section provides an overview to explain the Town/County regulations for sign usage.


(2)  Purpose:

The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety and general welfare by:


(a)        Promoting well maintained and attractive signage with the County;

(b)        Providing for adequate business identification, advertising, and communication; and

(c)        Protecting the safety and efficiency of the county's transportation network by reducing confusion or distractions to motorists and enhancing motorists' ability to use pedestrians, obstacles, other vehicles and official traffic signs, signals, or devices by minimizing a proliferation of messages for the motorist.


(3)  Permit Required:

No projecting, or free-standing sign shall hereafter be located, erected, moved, reconstructed, extended, enlarged, converted, or structurally altered without a zoning permit except those signs excepted in (4), and without being in conformity with the provisions of these regulations. Unless otherwise specified, the basic district standards shall apply for setback and height standards.


(4) Signs Excepted:

All signs are prohibited in all residential, agricultural, and public and semi-public districts except as follows:


(a)        Signs over show windows or doors of a nonconforming business establishment announcing without display or elaboration, only the name and occupation of the proprietor and not to exceed two (2) feet in height and ten (10) feet in length.


(b)        Real estate signs which advertise the sale, rental or lease of the premises, and political campaign signs when they are temporarily located.


(c)        Name, occupation and warning signs not to exceed two (2) square feet located on the premises.


(d)        Bulletin boards and identification signs for public, charitable or religious institutions, apartments, planned residential developments and subdivisions and model homes, in residential districts, provided they:


(1)        do not exceed 32 sq. ft. in area except model homes not to exceed 16 sq. ft. in area.

(2)        are located a minimum of 10 ft. from the right-of-way.

(3)        conform to the other yard requirements of the basic district.

(4)        do not exceed in height ten (10) feet above the crown of the road.


(e)        Memorial signs, tablets, names of buildings, and date of erection when cut into masonry surface or when constructed affixed flat against a structure.


(f)         Official signs (Municipal), such as traffic control, parking restrictions, information and notices.


(g)        Temporary signs or banners when authorized by the Board of Adjustment.


(h)        Farm names and identification signs in all agricultural districts.


(i)         Signs in existence before the adoption of these regulations which have been damaged or destroyed by vandalism or other malicious acts.


(5) Business Signs Permitted (On-Premises):


(a)        Business signs are permitted in all business, industrial and public and semi-public districts.


(b)        Temporary and mobile mounted signs are permitted in the B-2 & B-3 Business Districts and all industrial districts.


(c)        Business signs clearance standards:


(1)        Projecting signs shall not be less than ten (10) feet above the grade nor fifteen (15) feet above a driveway or an alley.


(2)        Free-standing signs:


(a)        Located above a walkway or driving area shall not be less than ten (10) feet above a walkway nor less than fifteen (15) feet above a driveway or an alley.


(b)        Located within 100 feet of the intersection of two streets: the bottom of the sign shall not be less than ten (10) feet above existing grade or grade of existing structure at the time of permit approval.


(c)        Located within 30' of a driveway centerline and road right-of-way the bottom of the sign shall not be less than ten (10) feet above existing grade or grade of existing structure at the time of permit approval.


(d) Business Sign Standards:


(1)        Street--Minimum--10 ft. unless otherwise specified in Conditional Use Approval.


(2)        All Other District Yards--Minimum--Same as basic district, unless otherwise specified in Conditional Use Approval.


(3)        Size--Area--Minimum--None--Maximum--100 sq. ft. per side, including all faces combined.


(4)        Height--Maximum--35 ft. above crown of road.


(6) Off-Premises Signs:


(a)        Directional Signs Permitted. Directional signs are permitted in B-1 and B-2 Business Districts subject to the following:


(1) Standards:


(a)        Size--Area--Maximum--32 sq. ft. per side, including all faces combined.


(b)        Height--Maximum--25 ft. above existing grade of existing structure at the time of permit approval.


(c)        Yards:

(1) Street--Minimum--3 ft.

(2) Side--Minimum--3 ft.

(3) Number--no more than four (4) for any single business or organization.


(b) Advertising and Directional Signs. Clearance standards:


(1)  Projecting signs shall not be less than ten (10) feet above the grade nor fifteen (15) feet above a driveway   or an alley.


(2)  Free-standing signs:


(a)        Located above a walkway or driving area: shall not be less than ten (10) feet above a walkway nor less than fifteen (15) feet above a driveway or an alley.


(b)        Located within 100 feet of an intersection of a driveway or roadway: shall not be less than ten (10) feet above existing grade or grade of existing structure at the time of permit approval.


(c) Vehicle Signage. Vehicles, including semitrailers, campers, buses, automobiles, and other like vehicles, shall not be parked on private property or a public right-of-way so as to been seen from a public right-of-way, which has attached thereto or located thereon any sign or advertising device for the basic purpose of providing advertising of products or directing people to a business activity located off-premises.


(7) Non-conforming Signs:

Signs existing at the time of adoption of these which do not conform to these provisions shall become nonconforming. As such, these signs shall adhere to the nonconforming provisions on non-shoreland areas and shoreland areas and to the following:


(a) Two or more signs located closer than the distance standards indicated in these regulations shall become nonconforming for the purposes of this section, regardless of which sign was erected first and regardless of whether the nearest sign measured from is located within or outside of County zoning jurisdiction.


(8) Parking Signs:

Parking area signs are permitted as an accessory use to all parking areas, in all districts, subject to the following:


(a) Standards:


(1)        Size-Area-Maximum--4 sq. ft.

(2)        Number--Maximum--1 sign per each entrance and exist.

(3)        Yard--All-Minimum--projection must be within property lines.

(4)        Height--Maximum--7 ft. above crown of road.


(9) Facing:

No business, advertising or directional sign shall be permitted to face a residential or public and semi-public district within fifty (50) ft. of such district boundary, except additions in the street yard of existing structures shall not project beyond the average of the existing street yards or parcels.


(10) Shape and Illusion:

Signs shall not resemble, imitate, or approximate the shape, size, form or color of railroad or traffic signs, signals or devices. Signs shall not obstruct or interfere with the effectiveness of railroad or traffic signs, signals, or devices. No sign shall be erected, relocated, or maintained so as to prevent free ingress to or egress from any door, window, driveway, or fire escape; and no sign shall be attached to a standpipe or fire escape. No sign shall be placed so as to obstruct or interfere with traffic visibility. Externally illuminated signs shall be lighted by white light only; no sign shall flash, oscillate, or rotate, except public service time and temperature signs. However, in all cases externally illuminated signs shall be shaded, shielded, or directed from surrounding properties and vehicular traffic.


(11) Dilapidated, Unmaintained and Abandoned Signs:


(a) Dilapidated and Unmaintained Signs. Signs allowed by these regulations must be maintained in a safe, presentable and good structural condition at all times, including replacement of defective parts, painting, repainting, cleaning and other acts required for proper maintenance of the sign. Signs that are determined by the County to be dilapidated, unmaintained and/or unsafe shall be subject to the razing provisions of Section 66.05, Wis. Stats.


(b) Abandoned Signs shall be removed by the owner or lessee of the premises, when, for a business sign, the business it advertises is not longer conducted; and for an advertising or directional sign, when lease payment and rental income are no longer provided. If the owner or lessee fails to remove the sign, the County shall give the owner sixty (60) days written notice to remove said sign. Upon failure to comply with this notice, the County may cause removal to be executed, the expenses of which will be assessed to the tax roll of the property on which the abandoned sign is located.


(12) Distance Standards:


(a) No advertising or directional sign shall be located closer than 1,320' to any other advertising or directional sign regardless of municipal boundaries, street classification, topography, etc.


(b) Business signs shall be allowed at a distance of one business sign per lot of record, except that where a multiple frontage lot occurs, each frontage shall be allowed one business sign.






(1)                Purpose:


The purpose of these regulations is to provide a uniform set of provisions relating to all billboard/off-premises signs in the Town of Menasha.


(2)                Intent:


It is the intent of these regulations to promote the public health, safety, welfare and comfort of the general public within the Town of Menasha.


(3)                Scope of Regulations:


Except as may otherwise be noted herein, these regulations shall govern all billboards/off-premises signs in the Town of Menasha.


(4)                Definitions:


For purposes of interpreting and enforcing these regulations, the following definition shall apply:


(a)                "Billboard".  Same as off-premises sign.


(b)                "Off - premises sign".  Signs which advertise or call attention to goods, products, individuals, businesses, and /or services not sold, available or located on the premises or property on which the sign is located.  Off-premises signs are typically of two main types:


(1)                Poster Panels or Bulletins - normally mounted on a building wall or freestanding structure with the message/display in the form of pasted paper.


(2)                Painted Bulletins - where the message/display is painted directly on the background of a wall-mounted or freestanding sign facing.


(5)                Enforcement:


(a)                Any person, firm, company or corporation who violates, disobeys, omits, neglects or refuses to comply with or who resists the enforcement of any of the provisions of these regulations may be subject to a forfeiture of not less than $10 nor more than $200 dollars, together with the costs of the action.  Each day the violation exists shall constitute a separate violation and be punishable as such.


(b)                The Community Development Director or his/her designee shall have the authority, as may be necessary, to enforce and administer these regulations.


(6)                Permit Required:


Permits shall not be required for a change of copy on any billboard/off-premises sign, nor for the repainting, cleaning and other normal maintenance or repair of a lawfully existing billboard/off-premises sign or sign structure.


(7)                Regulations:


(a)                It is hereby determined that the number of billboard/off-premises signs existing in the Town of Menasha is excessive and distracting to motorists and pedestrians, creates a traffic hazard, and mars the appearance of the Town.


(b)                Billboard/off-premises signs are hereby prohibited with the exception described in (7) (c) and (7) (d) in the Town and no billboard/off-premises sign may be constructed, erected or placed upon any premises, public or private, within the Town on or after January 25, 1993.


(c)                Billboard/off-premises signs existing prior to January 25, 1993 may be legal nonconforming signs and may be permitted to be continued and maintained in their current location/condition provided such signs also meet the following requirements:


(1)                The sign(s) was (were) covered by a sign permit or a permit for construction/erection of the sign(s) was (were) issued prior to the date of the adoption of this section, if one was required.


(2)                If no sign permit was required for the sign(s) in question and the sign(s) was (were) in all respects in compliance with applicable laws/ordinances on the date such sign was constructed/installed.


(d)                Certain off-premises signs may be allowed if the following conditions are complied with:


(1)                The off-premises sign shall be a directional sign identifying the location of businesses or industries that are not easily accessed by major collectors or arterials.


(2)                The off-premises sign shall allow for the identification of multiple businesses or industries.


(3)                The off-premises sign shall be limited to one sign per business or industrial area.  These areas shall be determined by the Town Board as necessary.


(4)                All off-premises signs shall be reviewed by the Town Planning Commission and a recommendation of approval or denial shall be made to the Town Board based on the above criteria and other information provided by the applicant, staff and others at a regular Town Planning Commission Meeting.


(5)                The Town Board shall approve or deny the recommendation of the Planning Commission based on compliance with the above criteria, any other information deemed appropriate to the off-premises sign, and further more, reserves the right to approve or deny the request for an off-premises sign on a case-by-case basis.


(e)                A billboard/off-premises sign which has been designated as legal nonconforming may retain such designation so long as the following conditions are complied with:


(1)                No structural modification of a legal nonconforming sign is permitted.  Structural modification shall not include changing of the sign copy or normal maintenance such as cleaning, painting, or scraping of the sign or sign structure.


(2)                The sign shall not be relocated.


(3)                The sign shall not be replaced.


(f)                 A legal nonconforming billboard/off-premises sign or sign structure which, by any means, is destroyed or damaged may be restored only after the owner has shown that the damage to such sign did not exceed fifty (50) percent of the assessed value of such sign existing at the time it became legal nonconforming.  If such sign or sign structure is destroyed or damaged to an extent exceeding (50) percent of the aforesaid value, it shall be removed within sixty (60) days of the date of damage occurred and shall not be reconstructed or replaced in the Town of Menasha.  If restoration of a sign damaged to less than fifty (50) percent of the aforesaid value is not completed within six (6) months of the date damage occurred, such sign shall be removed and should not be reconstructed or replaced in the Town of Menasha.  "Removal" as referred to in these regulations shall include both the sign and sign structure regardless of which incurred the damage.  Restoration of a damaged sign shall first require issuance of a sign permit.


(g)                At such time as the owner of any building or lot, on which a legal nonconforming billboard/off-premises sign is located, requests Planning Commission/Town Board approval for any change to the use, zoning, building or lot upon which premises said sign is located, the Planning Commission/Town Board may require that such legal nonconforming sign be removed as a condition of approval.

(h)                Any sign which does not wholly comply with these provisions and which is not classified as legal nonconforming, shall be ordered removed.  If the sign owner, lessee or owner of the premises on which such sign is located fails to remove such sign, the Community Development Director may contract for removal of such sign(s) and assess all costs associated with such removal as a special tax against the property on which the sign(s) was (were) located, such tax to be collected in the same manner as property taxes are collected in the Town of Menasha.


(8)                Appeals:


The Town of Menasha Board of Supervisors may waive or modify these regulations where, in its judgment, such waiver modification would further the public interest and uphold the purpose and intent of these regulations as set forth in (1) and (2) above respectively.  Any request for an appeal to these regulations shall first be presented to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Town Board of Supervisors.


(9)                Severability:


If any of these regulations are adjudged unconstitutional or invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of these regulations shall not be affected thereby.  If an application of these regulations to a particular sign or sign structure is adjudged unconstitutional or invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall not be applicable to any other sign or structure not specifically included in said judgment.