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City Council passes First Reading of amendment to regulate utilities work in public rights-of-way

Utility StructureThe City Council passed the First Reading of an amendment to the Novi Code of Ordinances, Chapter 31, regulating utilities and work in the public rights-of-way.  These changes clarify and strengthen our existing ordinance and establish a review standard similar to those used for site plans. 

The need for these amendments arose from advancements in technology which have resulted in both several different service providers offering new services and experience with administering the existing right-of-way ordinance with the myriad of utilities and interests in the public right-of-way.  The recommended changes are intended to regulate new installations in the right-of-way, as well as protect public health, safety and welfare, address aesthetic issues, and to preserve City property.  

Utility StructureAll of these requirements have been reviewed by the City engineers responsible for administering private work in the public right-of-way based upon experience and a commitment to protecting the public and City assets, as well as continuing a commitment to working with all utilities providing essential public services.  In 2006, the City of Novi processed 119 right-of-way applications.  The proposed amendments do not include an increase in application fees.  Review time by the City for issuing permits will not change from current practices which average ten working days.

The ordinance does not specifically apply to any one user of the right-of-way, but provides uniform standards for all users. 

For example, under current ordinance requirements, an applicant installing a water main is required to provide more information on the plan than an applicant installing a gas main.  The new ordinance would apply the same standard to both installations.   Consistent regulations for all users will also result in more efficient review and issuance of right-of-way permits. 

The proposed ordinance will add a definition section for clarity in meeting and administering the ordinance.  There are new requirements to specify what information is needed on a right-of-way application.  There are added standards for installations in the right-of-way and standards for  removal of installations.  Exemptions from permitting requirements are also being made explicit.  In the past, work has been performed in the City’s rights-of-way without the City’s knowledge and in conflict with City utilities.  This posed a problem for maintenance of City utilities and enforcing restoration efforts was difficult. 

Both the METRO Act and newly enacted cable act clearly reserve to municipalities the right to regulate the public rights-of-way.  Specifically, the METRO Act reserves a great deal of authority to the City to make sure that installations in the right-of-way are done in a proper manner which minimizes the burden on the right-of-way and public.  For example, Section 4.6 of the METRO Act requires that work done in the right-of-way must be in accordance with plans approved by the City.  Additionally, Section 4.8 requires applying for all local engineering permits.

Neither the intent nor anticipated impact of the proposed amendments is to impede competition or service to the public.  To the contrary, the Novi City Council has long been on record as inviting and encouraging competition of service providers. 

Proposed amendment to add requirements to address franchise utility construction in the City's rights-of way

If you have any questions, please contact Sheryl Walsh, Community Relations Manager, at 248-735-5628 or via email.