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City’s Public Works Committee Wants To Crack Down On Illegal Signs In Right-Of-Ways

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Illegal Signs in Kenosha Right-of-Ways
(All Photos by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Do you want to sell your house for cash? Do you have old diabetes test strips? Do you want your home cleaned, or the outside pressure washed? These are all questions that we’re asked every day in Kenosha. Not legally, however.

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Kenosha General Ordinance 5.045 is very clear when it states:

“No person, party, firm or corporation shall place any banner, sign, decoration, or obstruction in any public right-of-way without first obtaining the written permission of the Director of Public Works….”

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The right-of-way is the area next to streets that is owned by the government. Signs like these may be place on private property with permission from the property owners, but they can’t be placed on City, County, or State property without permission.

Kenosha Alderman David Mau (District 8)

This is an ordinance that has gone unenforced for decades, but one Alderman is looking to change that. Alderman David Mau has introduced a measure to the City Council that looks to increase the enforcement of repeat offenders.

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Brian Cater – Director Of Public Works, City of Kenosha

KCE spoke to Brian Cater, the director of the City of Kenosha Public works last year who told us that the city isn’t interested in any enforcement beyond removing the signs when people call and give locations. That means, Cater hasn’t ever sent any letters to repeat offenders, or worse, fine them the $300 as allowed by ordinance. Instead, the signs are disposed of. For the last four years, Cater and his predecessor have been dealing with repeat offenders but have refused to take any action, other than removing some signs. Cater told KCE that the signs weren’t a priority to his department and he wouldn’t take any enforcement action. Cater is not a resident of Kenosha.

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Repeat Offenders

Scott Metzefeld – Owner, Wash Me Windows of Kenosha, WI
(facebook)
Samantha Kofroth – Owner, Maid Absolutely Clean
(facebook)

According to City records, there are two repeat offenders – Scott Metzefeld, owner of Wash Me Windows, and Samantha Kofroth, owner of Maid Absolutley Clean. Both live in the City of Kenosha. For the last at least four years, hundreds of signs have gone up all over the city from these two businesses without permission. Many complaints have gone to the City about the signs. At one point a public works Street Superintendent Rick Desotell called one of these business owners to plead for the signs to stop going up. Still they appeared, year after year. Metzefeld also owns a business that installs Christmas lights, so he has signs out year round.

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Alderman’s Mau’s resolution, entitled “Resolution Advocating Enforcement of City Ordinance 5.045 for Fair Business Practices and Regulatory Integrity” passed the City Council’s public works committee last night and is headed to the full City Council for a vote.

According to the resolution: “The unauthorized placement of signs on public property poses a significant challenge to the fair and equitable use of government land potentially allowing certain entities to gain undue favors and advantages through unchecked promotional activities. The beautification of our cityscape plays a vital role in creating an inviting and appealing environment and fosters pride in the community and the proliferation of unauthorized signs detracts from the visual harmony and cleanliness of our public spaces.”

“I’ve gotten complaints from citizens about the signs, so I wanted to get the opinion of council on if we should be enforcing this law that’s already on the books. Citizens ask me why they can’t put their signs out on public property, but other businesses get away with it. I’ve always tried to speak out against government actions that benefit one business owner over another. Nobody should be allowed to use government resources for their own commercial gain. As a legislator, since the law is already there, the only thing I can do is ask the city staff to enforce it,” said Mau.

The City Council could take this resolution to a vote as soon as March 4, 2024.

Author

  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.

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32 Responses

  1. I’ve seen the county removing these for months, when they’re out picking up garbage that all of the trashy people leave laying around.

    1. This includes political signs. Any entity using public land for their own gain. There is discretion of course – for instance rummage sale signs. No law is being changed, we’re just asking for the opinion of council on enforcement.

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    2. That would mean Rowe would have to remove his pathetic sign on Hwy C. That’s the only thing he has left to pretend to be relevant.

  2. If they are in the right-of-way or in the parkway, I always just remove them. I have had multiple alderman and city management tell me it was absolutely fine to remove them since they dont belong there. I especially like taking politicians signs out where they arent allowed.

  3. First, thank you for having a new “lead story.” It was getting painful looking at the one that was at the top all weekend.

    Yes, it’s an annoyance for some BUT with all the crime, overdoses, carjacking, police chases, low bond court commissioners and drug dealers THIS is what the city is worried about???????? No wonder nothing important gets done. Sheesh.

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    1. Since it’s the DPW that does the enforcement, there isn’t an issue. They have nothing to do with the crime that you mentioned. It simply sending an enforcement letter, which is a simple administrative task that can be done by a secretary.

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      1. Agreed.
        Boiler plate cease and desist letters at the ready to just put an address on. Takes a little time but if streamlined this process can be done rather quickly.

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  4. Since it’s the DPW that does the enforcement, there isn’t an issue. They have nothing to do with the crime that you mentioned. It simply sending an enforcement letter, which is a simple administrative task that can be done by a secretary.

  5. This is not the first time nor will it be the last but,

    Here we are writing a law to get public servants to enforce existing laws !!

    Aside from the fact that sheriff David Beth said years ago he didn’t want his deputies enforcing 9 over speeding tickets. Not a good expense of resources.

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  6. Just like fireworks. There’s always lots of talk, but nothing ever gets done to stop it.
    Put a cash bounty on these signs and the problem will disappear real quick.

  7. Crackdown on “illegal” signs??? How about you crackdown on “Illegal Aliens” and round their asses up for a deportation.

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  8. You need to write about John Steinbrick Sr showing his face at the new business eating hot beef sandwiches highway 50.
    All the corruption it goes on in the village of Pleasant Prairie.
    Only taking care of their friends or whoever they like. Corruption corruption corruption.
    Let’s not forget about John Steinbrick Jr stealing from a taxpayers.
    Please taxpayers pay attention

    1. Will someone PLEASE run against Steinbrink Sr. BTW…who owns the new house across the street from him? I thought it was going to be his daughter’s house, but nobody lives there. You just see the lights on in different rooms etc, but nobody coming or going. I looked up the taxes on the house, but couldn’t find them. Who is paying for the taxes on that house?

  9. It’s sad that we appear to have so many people who think the city should only be allowed to do one thing at a time.

  10. Sgt Hard should get in there and enforce, collect the fees and use them for his own signs and pamphlets.

  11. I live on a busy street on the Northside and have dealt with this for 20+ years.
    Signs go up and then usually I have to cut grass, so I’m pulling them out. So at this point if 1 pops up I pull it out right away, or I’ll have a hundred of them all summer long. Some people have gotten extremely rude at the least,others threatening to kick my ass.
    I applaud this effort.

  12. Here’s another idea.
    Find the vehicle owners who removed their mufflers and post their pictures.
    First it was motorcycles, then semi trucks and then dump truck owners got
    in on the illegal act.
    Absolutely nothing is done about that.
    There are businesses with whole fleets of very large trucks with the mufflers illegally removed who
    terrorize neighborhoods day in and day out with their illegal noise.
    And when you can still hear a semi 2 miles away, you know the mufflers have been illegally removed – if you’re
    next to one of them at a stoplight when it takes off you better roll up your window or be ready for an earsplitting headache.
    No enforcement.

    1. This is quite random. I’m sure what you’re thinking is “cut mufflers” on semis is their engine brake. Also, I’m certain the noisiest trucks are grain haulers- not “very large fleets”; regardless, I hope you don’t need anything from anywhere bc it was delivered there by one of those evil trucks.

  13. With all the free ways to advertise today placing signs all over is completely unnecessary. Not to say how trashy it makes our city look. Alderman need to stop being lazy and hit people in their pocketbook and that will end. The city, and the people who represent the city, must do their job they were elected to do! Why must Kenosha look like the armpit of Wisconsin!

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  14. While DPW is at it, how about bending over & picking up some of the littler in the ditches along the roadsides? Clearly, littering is no longer something that the cops worry about which is why I can fill a large 13 gallon trash bag with empty beer cans, liquor bottles, fast food wrappers, diapers and the like every 6 weeks when I do litter pickup along 300 feet of frontage along L.

  15. Crime out of control, streets littered with broken concrete, and these dipshits are worried about yard signs? WTF?

  16. How about the trashy job this fiber optics company is doing and the city contracts it. Dirty non cleaned work sites

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