“Blocked” Billboard Ruled Not a “Taking” by Wisconsin Supreme Court

(Ed. note: The following  excerpts are taken verbatim from the Wisconsin Bar Association website. https://www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/Pages/General-Article.aspx?ArticleID=26432 )

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) that the City of Madison’s construction of a pedestrian bridge over a major highway, blocking visibility of an existing billboard, was not a taking of property requiring just compensation.”

“Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership argued that a taking occurred because the city’s bridge deprived the company of all economically beneficial use of its billboard space. The city argued that unobstructed visibility of property from a public road is not a property right protected by the takings clauses of federal and state constitutions.”

“Adams Outdoor bought the parcel of land on which two billboards sat for $200,000 in 2007. The billboards are nonconforming; they cannot be modified by height or location.”

“Adams Outdoors’ appraiser said the property was worth $1.46 million before the bridge was constructed, and $720,000 after it was erected.”

“[T]he majority ignores the essential fact that the west-facing billboard permit itself constitutes individual real property and the correct denominator in the takings analysis,” Justice R. Bradley wrote. “Consequently, the majority reaches a legally erroneous outcome.”

“The west-facing billboard permit is separate and distinct from both the billboard structure and the land the structure inhabits,” she wrote.

“As a result, Adams Outdoor is left with a small, half-acre of irregularly-shaped land adjoining the Beltline Highway, on which sits one rentable sign, the value of which is half what it was when the land enjoyed two rentable signs,” Justice R. Bradley wrote.

“The only economically beneficial or productive use of the west-facing billboard permit is renting the west-facing billboard to advertisers. Advertisers will not want to rent the west-facing billboard, rendering its corresponding permit useless.”

Wade Swormstedt

Wade Swormstedt

Wade is Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry. Formerly he was Editor and Publisher of Signs of the Times magazine.

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Posted in Outdoor Advertising, Signs' Advertising Value, Supreme Court, Temporary Signs, Visibility and Legibility.