Streets & Alleys

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619X. Discusses a number of issues relating to winter, including sidewalk snow removal, street plowing, applying salt and sand, highway salt storage and winter parking. Updates Streets and Alleys 619 and 619R. 10/29/99.

619R1. Discusses a number of issues relating to winter, including sidewalk snow removal, street plowing, applying salt and sand, highway salt storage and winter parking. Updates Streets and Alleys 619X. 11/01/03.

619R2. Discusses a number of issues relating to winter, including sidewalk snow removal, street plowing, applying salt and sand, highway salt storage, winter parking and cold-weather utility disconnections. Updates Streets and Alleys 619R1. 12/01/09.

619R3. Discusses a number of issues relating to winter including removal of ice and snow from public ways, street plowing, applying salt and sand, highway salt storage, winter parking, cold-weather utility disconnections and constitutionality of municipal holiday displays. Updates Streets and Alleys 619R2. 11/01/12.

619R4. Discusses a number of issues relating to winter including removal of ice and snow from public ways, street plowing, applying salt and sand, highway salt storage, winter parking, and cold-weather utility disconnections. Updates Streets and Alleys 619R3. 12/01/12.


620 R1. Reviews procedures by which cities and villages discontinue public ways like streets and alleys under secs. 66.1003 and 62.73 (for first class cities), Stats., and discusses the relationship between those provisions and sec. 236.43, Stats., which governs vacation and alteration of plats. Also briefly mentions procedures for narrowing, widening or relocating streets. 9/30/04.

626R. Section 349.185, Stats., allows municipalities, by order, ordinance or resolution, to "regulate community events or celebrations, processions or assemblages on the highways, including reasonable regulations on the use of radios or other electric sound amplification devices." 5/31/02.

626R2. Section 349.185, Stats., allows municipalities, by order, ordinance or resolution, to "œregulate community events or celebrations, processions or assemblages on the highways, including reasonable regulations on the use of radios or other electric sound amplification devices." Municipalities can grant privileges in streets under sec. 66.0425 for street cafes and street vending. 2/27/10.

631. Municipalities may enact and enforce ordinances banning the use of train horns at railway crossings until the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation issues regulations, as directed by Congress under the Swift Rail Development Act (49 U.S.C. (20153), requiring that train horns be sounded at each railway crossing. The Secretary has not yet promulgated such rules even though the deadline for issuing such rules was November 2, 1996. Presently, therefore, municipalities are not preempted from enacting and enforcing bans on the sounding of train horns at railway crossings. 9/30/97.

632. The state office of the commissioner of railroads has exclusive jurisdiction over the speed of trains at railway crossings. However, municipal governing bodies may petition the office of the commissioner of railroads for the issuance of an order establishing the maximum train speed over a railway crossing or crossings within the municipality. Sec. 192.29(1), Stats. 9/30/97.

633. Although a street may be discontinued when a substantial and material alteration is made in its character as a street, and this may result from direct proceedings intended to terminate street uses, or indirectly from actions designed for some other purpose but having the effect of eliminating or interfering with street uses (McQuillin, Law of Municipal Corporations, sec. 30.178.10 (3d ed. 1991)), installation of curb and gutter on section of unimproved street did not effect discontinuance of unimproved street thereby necessitating that city go through statutory procedures for discontinuing or vacating a street. 10/8/98.

634. The provisions of sec. 84.063, Wis. Stats., and Trans 220, Wisconsin Admin. Code, which set out a comprehensive scheme for addressing and preventing delays to state trunk highway improvement projects caused by uncertain scheduling of utility facilities relocation, do not apply to municipal street improvement projects. In addition, there is no comparable statute or administrative rule applicable to municipal street improvement projects. However, it appears that municipalities could rely on their authority under secs. 196.58(1) and 182.017(1), Wis. Stats., to adopt ordinances mirroring the provisions of Trans 220 and establishing a definite process for scheduling utility facilities relocation in conjunction with municipal street improvement projects. 11/30/98.

635. A municipality may choose to end a street at or a few feet before its boundary. There are no state statutes or court decisions requiring a municipality to extend a street up to or across its boundaries in order to provide access to a landlocked parcel in an adjoining town. See Voss v. City of Middleton, 162 Wis.2d 737, 470 N.W.2d 625, 632 (1991) (quoting Good Deal of Ivy Hill, Inc. v. City of Newark, 32 N.J. 263, 160 A.2d 630 (1960)) ("A local governing body may build a road and terminate it at the boundary line of the municipality, or some distance short of that line. There is no duty to go further in order to provide access to the road for a citizen of the adjoining community whose land is just beyond the geographical limit.") 8/31/99.

636. Section 80.13, Wis. Stats., which provides a procedure whereby owners of landlocked parcels within towns may petition "the supervisors of any town" to hold a hearing and decide whether to provide access to the landlocked parcel by constructing a highway to the parcel applies exclusively to towns, not cities and villages. It cannot, therefore be used by an owner of land within a town to compel a village to extend a street into the town to provide access to the landowner's landlocked parcel. 8/31/99.

637. Summarizes proposed rule published by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in the January 13, 2000 issue of the Federal Register requiring that train horns be sounded at every public highway-rail grade crossing unless the crossing is located within a municipally designated "quiet zone" and is equipped with approved supplementary safety measures spelled out in the rule. 1/31/00.

638. Provides general overview of authority for, and necessity of, maintaining public rights-of-way. Discusses potential liability for failure to do so and secs. 81.15 and 81.17, Stats. 7/31/01.

639. Explains key provisions in the Public Service Commission's adopted rule relating to municipal regulation of public rights-of-way including a municipality's ability to recover management function costs, impose special design and construction conditions, require facilities mapping, and impose bond and insurance requirements on utilities as a condition of right-of-way use. Also discusses provisions relating to a municipality's ability to discriminate between utilities seeking access to municipal rights-of-way, impose restoration requirements, require permanent relocation of utility facilities, and require utilities to give advance construction or abandonment plans. 1/31/03.

640. On April 24, 2003, the Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously adopted the final rule relating to municipal regulation of public rights-of-way, which was described in detail in the March 2003 comment, Streets and Alleys 639. The Revisor of Statutes will publish the rule, which will be known as PSC 130, Wisconsin Administrative Code, sometime in June and it will take effect July 1, 2003. The PSC adopted a slightly modified rule from the one described in the comment. The final rule, as modified by the PSC, makes municipalities exclusively responsible for paying their Digger's Hotline membership fees but is silent regarding who is responsible for paying the cost of marking the location of municipal facilities in the rights-of-way. 4/30/03.

641. A public parking lot "available to the entire community for vehicular travel" is a "highway" within the meaning of sec. 81.15, Stats. Ellerman v. City of Manitowoc, Appeal No. 03-0322 (Ct. App. Sep. 24, 2003) (recommended for publication). 9/30/03.

642. When a highway (which includes all public ways such as sidewalks, alleys, streets, etc.) is discontinued, the property reverts back to the owner or owners of the adjoining lands. If the property is located between the lands of different owners, it shall be annexed to the lots to which it originally belonged, if that can be ascertained. If not, it is equally divided between the owners of the lands on each side thereof. Wis. Stat. sec. 80.32(3). 11/30/03.

643. Reviews the Federal Railroad Administration Final Interim Rule, published 12/18/03 and effective 12/18/04, requiring the sounding of locomotive horns or train whistles at highway-rail crossings and governing how municipalities can establish new quiet zones or maintain existing ones. 12/30/03.

644. Comment surveys First Amendment principles regarding; (1) disparate treatment of commercial and noncommercial speech; (2) content-neutral versus content-based speech regulation; (3) the Doctrine of Prior Restraint and; (4) the Public Forum Doctrine and highlights application of these principles by the Supreme Court and other federal courts to a variety of political sign regulations. 8/31/04.

645. Section 893.33(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes, which prohibits commencement of certain actions affecting the possession or title of real estate where the action is founded upon any unrecorded instrument, is a general real estate statute and does not apply to a municipality's interest in an unrecorded highway given the existence of other statutes that specifically govern unrecorded highways. City of Prescott v. Holmgren, 2005AP2673 (Wis. Ct. App. July 18, 2006) (recommended for publication). 7/31/06.


646. Section 66.1003(4)(d), Wis. Stats., only provides standing to people whose property abuts the discontinued portions of an alley, not every landowner on the block. Smerz v. Delafield Town Board, No. 2010AP1186 (Ct. App. Feb. 17, 2010) (recommended for publication). 3/1/11.

647. The Chapter 236 procedures for discontinuing an unpaved alley in a recorded plat are alternatives to, not exclusive of or superior to, the procedure in Wis. Stat. sec. 66.1003(3). Smerz v. Delafield Town Board, No. 2010AP1186 (Ct. App. Feb. 17, 2010) (recommended for publication). 3/1/11.

648. Where it was undisputed that village streets were unrecorded and had been worked as public highways for 10 years or more, presumption arose under Wis. Stat. sec. 82.13(2)(a) that the streets were 66 feet wide and the village could improve those streets without paying eminent domain compensation. The rebutting of the presumption in connection with three properties on the street did not extend the rebuttal of the presumption to the entire street, and the term “public highway” in sec. 82.13(2)(1) is not limited to that portion of the road used by vehicles. Challengers did not prove the rebuttable presumption in sec. 82.31(2)(a) facially unconstitutional under the takings or due process clauses of the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions. Village of Brown Deer v. Balisterri, 2014 WI App 137, petition for review pending. 11/10/13.