ABC of Wisconsin et. al. v. City of Madison

Case Name: ABC of Wisconsin, CARW, NAIOP, WBA, and WRA v. City of Madison

Type of Case: Rule of Law

Court: Dane County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

Filed On: July 22, 2021

Press Releases

WILL Sues City of Madison Over Bird-Safe Glass Ordinance That Undermines Wisconsin’s Uniform Building Code

July 22, 2021 | WILL filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against the City of Madison over a mandatory bird-safe glass ordinance that is preempted by state law.

WILL WARNS CITY OF MADISON NEW BIRD-SAFE GLASS ORDINANCE UNDERMINES WISCONSIN’S UNIFORM BUILDING CODE

March 3, 2021 | WILL filed a Notice of Claim, Wednesday, with the City of Madison on behalf of four real estate, development, and building associations warning that the City’s new mandatory bird-safe glass ordinance is preempted by state law.

The Lawsuit: WILL filed a lawsuitin Dane County Circuit Court against the City of Madison over a mandatory bird-safe glass ordinance that is preempted by state law. WILL represents Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, the Commercial Association of Realtors of Wisconsin, NAIOP Wisconsin – the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association, and the Wisconsin Realtors Association. The legal challenge asserts the city ordinance undermines and violates Wisconsin’s uniform building code.

Background: In August 2020, the Madison Common Council adopted an ordinance that “all exterior construction and development activity” for buildings over 10,000 square feet, skyways, and other glass features, must meet new “bird-safe glass treatment requirements.” The ordinance went into effect on October 1, 2020.

Since 2014, Wisconsin has had a uniform commercial building code. To ensure Wisconsin’s code is uniform, state law provides that no city “may enact or enforce an ordinance that establishes minimum standards for constructing, altering, or adding to” buildings unless that ordinance “strictly conforms” to the uniform building code adopted by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The administrative rules make clear that cities may not enact or enforce a local ordinance that imposes “additional or more restrictive” standards than the uniform building code.

Madison’s ordinance is illegal and preempted by state law. It violates the settled expectations of builders, contractors, developers, and property owners. It imposes “additional or more restrictive” standards for glass and violates Wisconsin’s uniform building code. Additionally, the ordinance would hinder the creation of good-paying jobs, raise housing costs and commercial rents, and drive investments away from the City of Madison.

WILL filed a Notice of Claim on March 4, 2021 with the City of Madison on behalf of four real estate, development, and building associations. A notice of claim is required before a lawsuit can commence.

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

lucas@will-law.org

Luke Berg

Luke Berg

Deputy Counsel

luke@will-law.org

Anthony LoCoco

Anthony LoCoco

Deputy Counsel

alococo@will-law.org

CASE DOCUMENTS