(1) Any sign which is located adjacent to the right-of-way of any highway on the State Highway System outside an incorporated area or adjacent to the right-of-way on any portion of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway system, which sign was erected, operated, or maintained without the permit required by s. 479.07(1) having been issued by the department, is declared to be a public nuisance and a private nuisance and shall be removed as provided in this section. (a) Upon a determination by the department that a sign is in violation of s. 479.07(1), the department shall prominently post on the sign face a notice stating that the sign is illegal and must be removed within 30 days after the date on which the notice was posted. However, if the sign bears the name of the licensee or the name and address of the nonlicensed sign owner, the department shall, concurrently with and in addition to posting the notice on the sign, provide a written notice to the owner, stating that the sign is illegal and must be permanently removed within the 30-day period specified on the posted notice. The written notice shall further state that the sign owner has a right to request a hearing, which request must be filed with the department within 30 days after the date of the written notice. However, the filing of a request for a hearing will not stay the removal of the sign.
(b) If, pursuant to the notice provided, the sign is not removed by the sign owner within the prescribed period, the department shall immediately remove the sign without further notice; and, for that purpose, the employees, agents, or independent contractors of the department may enter upon private property without incurring any liability for so entering.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, a notice to the sign owner, when required, constitutes sufficient notice; and notice is not required to be provided to the lessee, advertiser, or the owner of the real property on which the sign is located.
(d) If, after a hearing, it is determined that a sign has been wrongfully or erroneously removed pursuant to this subsection, the department, at the sign owner’s discretion, shall either pay just compensation to the owner of the sign or reerect the sign in kind at the expense of the department.
(e) However, if the sign owner demonstrates to the department that:
1. The sign has been unpermitted, structurally unchanged, and continuously maintained at the same location for a period of 7 years or more;
2. At any time during the period in which the sign has been erected, the sign would have met the criteria established in this chapter for issuance of a permit;
3. The department has not initiated a notice of violation or taken other action to remove the sign during the initial 7-year period described in subparagraph 1.; and
4. The department determines that the sign is not located on state right-of-way and is not a safety hazard,
the sign may be considered a conforming or nonconforming sign and may be issued a permit by the department upon application in accordance with this chapter and payment of a penalty fee of $300 and all pertinent fees required by this chapter, including annual permit renewal fees payable since the date of the erection of the sign.
(2)(a) If a sign is under construction and the department determines that a permit has not been issued for the sign as required under the provisions of this chapter, the department is authorized to require that all work on the sign cease until the sign owner shows that the sign does not violate the provisions of this chapter. The order to cease work shall be prominently posted on the sign structure, and no further notice is required to be given. The failure of a sign owner or her or his agents to immediately comply with the order shall subject the sign to prompt removal by the department.
(b) For the purposes of this subsection only, a sign is under construction when it is in any phase of initial construction prior to the attachment and display of the advertising message in final position for viewing by the traveling public. A sign that is undergoing routine maintenance or change of the advertising message only is not considered to be under construction for the purposes of this subsection.
(3) The cost of removing a sign, whether by the department or an independent contractor, shall be assessed against the owner of the sign by the department.