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Scenic La Crosse

Keeping God's Country Beautiful

Local Studies Point to Billboard and Sign Control

• Highway 53 Corridor Enhancement Plan 2000
• Confluence: The La Crosse Comprehensive Plan 2002
• First Impressions Report 2007
• La Crosse County Land Use Policy 2008
• Morman Coulee/Shelby Visual Preference Survey 2004
• Town of Onalaska Comprehensive Plan 2005
• Town of Hamilton Comprehensive Plan 2009
• City of La Crosse adopts Eco-Municipality plan 2007
• La Crosse County adopts Eco-Municipality plan 2007


A reading of local studies and adopted plans above make it clear that the people of La Crosse County place high value on our natural environment. And our environment translates into the attraction of new residents and businesses to our community. The reports show that a deep concern about billboards and signs existed even before construction of the electronic billboard on Highway 16 last spring. Concerns have significantly increased since.

In brief, it is the people from La Crosse County who are saying that something needs to be done to control signs. The billboard industry currently operates in a system such that once a billboard is put up, there is little that can be done.

Excerpts from a few reports follow. Complete reports are available upon request.


80% agreed that “The appearance of business signs along highways should be regulated by local governments.”

84% agreed that “The additions of new billboards along the interstate and highways should be limited.”

93% of surveyed citizens agreed that “The appearance of buildings, signs, roads, and natural features impacts the character of La Crosse County”


The survey results also show that commercial development is strongly discouraged in the Town of Shelby. If any is to occur, it must blend in with its residential surroundings through design and landscaping and commercial signage must be kept at a minimum.


Goals, Policies, Objectives, Actions 71: 9)

Promote the removal of billboards and other large signs.

CONFLUENCE: The La Crosse Comprehensive Plan Elements (2002)

Urban Design Plan p 1-12

• Improve the design of commercial signs through adoption of sign design standards.

• Consider adopting an ordinance requiring amortization of off-premise advertising within 30 years.

• Establish City and neighborhood gateways at key locations using features such as monument signs, public art,
distinctive landscaping, and banners.

• Upgrade the appearance of major road corridors by making streetscape improvements such boulevard trees,
ornamental lighting, special pavement, and banners.

Guidance from the Concept Plan p 3-2

• Sensitive Environments: There should be an emphasis on restoring water quality and wildlife habitat. The City
should acquire land and adopt strong regulations to protect bluffs, coulees and wooded hillsides. New housing
development should incorporate buffers around creek floodplains.

• Natural Corridors: The City should emphasize the protection of significant environmental corridors for recreation
and wildlife movement. There should be a coordinated regional response to the need to identify and protect such
resources, led by La Crosse County and including Houston and Winona Counties.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS REPORT For The City Of La Crosse, 2007

The purpose of this study, commissioned by the City of La Crosse, is to help a community learn about existing strengths and weaknesses as seen through the eyes of the first time visitor. It has implications for the entire county.

• Everyone on the team noticed the bluffs and found them to be striking. Way finding signage was positively
recognized, as well as the historic homes and downtown. The presence of billboards detracted from the initial
beauty seen by the team.

• Big Pepsi billboard in front of gorgeous bluff was distracting.

• Pepsi billboard spoils the view. Lots of popular chain stores. Nice signage location. Typical urban sprawl on the
way in, clean, but the billboards are an eyesore. Lots of green space. Nice street trees…

• The Hwy 16 exit #5 (*) approach to the city was breathtaking with the powerful beauty of the bluffs; however, a
proliferation of billboards marred the experience.


Existing Copeland Avenue South of Monitor Street Highway 53
Corridor Enhancement, 2000 Plan

Proposed Copeland Avenue South of Monitor Street Highway 53
Corridor Enhancement Plan, 2000