Federal appeals court upholds Madison’s billboard rules

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by Adams Outdoor Advertising claiming the city of Madison’s sign ordinance is unconstitutional, according to a report from APG Wisconsin.

Adams has been battling the city in court over the city’s sign ordinances for decades, though this latest federal lawsuit was filed in 2017. Adams owns and operates many billboards in Wisconsin, including about 90 in Madison.

In April 2017, Adams submitted 26 applications to the city seeking to modify or replace existing billboards, including raising the height of structures and installing digital sign faces. In June 2017, the city denied 25 of the 26 permits, citing ordinance provisions the proposed modifications would violate. The next month, Adams filed the lawsuit in federal court.

In April 2020, a federal judge dismissed the challenge, saying there’s no constitutional problem with Madison’s sign ordinance, a decision that Adams appealed.

In a 16-page decision issued Jan. 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, upheld the federal district court’s dismissal of Adams’ claims.