Onalaska to implement permit system for temporary signs

The free permit will be for community events and businesses

Signs for garage sales and community events are popping up throughout the community, but to prevent too much signage this year, two area communities are stepping up enforcement.

It’s an issue community officials in Holmen and Onalaska say comes up every year, but the rules have basically stayed the same. Temporary signs are allowed on private property, but it is against ordinances to put signs on public property. To prevent it from happening this year, they are trying to get ahead of the curve and enforce the rules early.

If you drive through the village of Holmen, you have a good chance of being greeted by a sign.

“When people come into the village, they could see three, four, five, six garage sale signs at the intersections that are entrances to our community,” said Dean Olson, the Holmen director of Public Works.

“In the last year we are seeing more temporary signs,” said Brea Grace, the Land Use and Development director in Onalaska. “There are community event signs and there are signs advertising businesses.”

Not only are temporary signs showing up more often, but they are being planted in the wrong places.

“Some of the signs were placed in locations that were somewhat of a traffic hazard as well. Right next to the paved roadway, not off in the grassy area, right in the gravel shoulder,” said Olson.

Signs are not allowed in the boulevards or in the road right-of-way either.

“So that’s the median in-between the roadway and the grassy strip between the road and the sidewalks, so that is all considered part of the road right-of-way,” said Grace.

But as the number of signs increases, so too will the enforcement this year. In Holmen, officials will simply remove the illegal signs.

“If you put it right behind the curb at a major intersection in the community, you can pretty much expect that it will be taken down and disposed of,” said Olson.

However, in Onalaska, officials have a different plan. They will implement a no-cost permit for community events and businesses.

“We will talk to them about the regulations for the signs and that they are placed in the right area and that there are not an abundance of signs on a couple properties,” said Grace.

It’s an effort to educate residents before temporary signs become the new welcome sign for visitors.

There are some exceptions to the new permit policy in Onalaska. A resident does not need a permit for garage-sale signs or home-for-sale signs.

The free permits in Onalaska can be picked up from the Inspection Department at City Hall.