Right-of-Way Use Permitting
Palm Bay Public Works Department
1050 Malabar Road SW
Palm Bay, FL 32907
Phone: (321) 952-3403
Fax: (321) 768-6401
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 5:00pm
Right-of-Way (R/W) is defined as the area controlled by the City. It is usually defined as the roadway plus 10 feet behind the curb. The definition of the city R/W may vary depending on the physical conditions at any given location.
The Right-of-Way Use Permitting office coordinates the application review with: traffic, zoning, planning, police and fire. Your cooperation as a user of City Rights-of-Way is essential. Together we can make safe and efficient use of this most valuable and limited resource.
The City of Palm Bay regulates the use of public Rights-of-Way – (R/W) in the interest of public safety, convenience and to operate and protect public facilities. The right of the City of Palm Bay to control the public R/W is given by State Statutes and City Code of Ordinances. A request-review-approval system is applied to control the use of the R/W. Entities such as utilities, proposed facility owners and citizens wishing to occupy or conduct work in the public R/W make a formal request, which is reviewed by the City Public Works Department for conformance with adopted and accepted procedures, standards, criteria and the City Code of Ordinances. The permit system maintains the integrity of public works facilities and enhances coordination among users of the R/W. Approval is given in the form of a permit to use the R/W on a temporary or long-term basis. As applied to utilities, the permit and a franchise together act as a use and occupancy agreement that allows the utility facility to exist within the City Rights-of-Way. The City Procedures and Requirements Manual outlines typical procedures for issuing and general requirements for the contents of permits, i.e., provisions for construction, emergency situations, inspection of work, traffic control, fees, and indemnification.
NOTE: It is not the intent of this information to eliminate the responsibility and necessity for all permit applicants to read and understand the City of Palm Bay Code of Ordinance No. 93-03 TITLE 17 Chapter 179.090 thru 179.999 "Right-of-Way and Easement Use Ordinance" Enacted February 1993.
A permit is required for virtually all actions in the public Rights-of-Way with the exception of Capital Improvement Projects and road construction or reconstruction, which is overseen and approved by the City Engineer. The utility, proposed facility owner or citizen initiates the permitting process. Actions typically requiring a permit are: (1) additions to or upgrades of existing facilities; (2) installing new facilities in the R/W. The requirement for a specific permit to perform work in the R/W should apply to every entity involved in any work that will affect the public way, including privately and publicly owned utilities, private contractors, and individuals. Permit purposes include the following:
- Register the entities intention to work within the R/W, in accordance with its franchise or other legal authorizations, to install and maintain service facilities in the R/W; Stipulate the nature and extent of such R/W work; Provide an administrative means for the City to coordinate use of the R/W space, to hold the entity responsible for the authorized work, to inspect such work and to perform other necessary actions in connection with such R/W operations;
- Grant formal approval for the intended work, establish records of all R/W utility operations and service facilities, and document orderly allocation of space.
Permits may not be required for items such as routine maintenance, subsurface service connections that do not disturb more than 100 SF of surface area and does not effect vehicle/pedestrian travel lanes, i.e. telecom splice pits, etc., aerial service connections not requiring additional supporting structures within the public R/W, substituting or adding wires to existing poles, or placing facilities in existing conduits or encasement that do not disturb more than 100 sq. ft. of surface area and does not exceed an excavation depth of 48 inches or change the type, nature, or operating conditions of the originally approved facility.
The most logical and cost-efficient method of running a pipeline or an electric or telephone cable is frequently along publicly owned property, city streets, alleys, sidewalks, or other public Rights-of-Way (R/W). Recognizing that the use of the public R/W is necessary for the efficient delivery of utility services, the city and utilities enter into franchise agreements that grant access to the public R/W.
The City may grant authority to a utility company to use the public streets, alleys, and other public R/W on a continuing basis, particularly for a public utility business, such as electric, gas, telephone, or water/sewer service. This franchise agreement allows the utility to be within the R/W, but does not allow unrestricted use of the R/W. The general approval to use the R/W does not prevent the municipality from controlling specific uses. These specific uses or activities (such as excavating to install or maintain a utility facility in the R/W) are authorized by individual permits. Further authorization beyond the franchise agreement is usually needed before a utility can perform specific work in the R/W. Franchise agreements provide for:
- Right of utility access on or under city roadways, alleys, and other public R/W’s.
- Indemnification safeguarding the City from any liability resulting from the utility’s use of city property;
- Authority for the City to inspect utility work in the public R/W;
- Compensation under the franchise; and
- Timing of utility compensation payments.
Many public and private uses of the streets are for purposes other than vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The City typically allows for the placement of service mains, storm drains, street lighting and traffic control systems in the R/W. Utilities may have gas, telephone, CATV, electric, water/sewer, and other public services both overhead and underground in the R/W. Public and private interests may use the R/W for sewer laterals, driveway approaches, walkways, bikeways, or even parades. Common concerns are:
- Safety. No one wants damage to facilities or accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities. Procedures are defined within the R/W Use Ordinances to avoid disruption of facilities and provide for safe working environments during construction and maintenance operations, both for the workers and others using the R/W.
- Costs. Whether paid for by private funds, taxpayers or ratepayers, the expense of relocation and adjustment of facilities after they are in place should be minimized.
- Inconvenience. The actions of one user after another digging up the same R/W is inconvenient for all and must be controlled.
- Traffic Flow. If a project is planned with traffic impacts in mind, many unnecessary disruptions, delays, and complaints can be avoided. This may also permit the work to be completed in a more timely, efficient manner and at a lower cost.
- Disruption. Government, private industry and citizens want their vital public services to be dependable and uninterrupted.
- Public Image. A sound program for protecting the public investment in infrastructure reflects good stewardship as well as business management.
- Aesthetics. Utility cuts made to access underground facilities are not only detrimental to the street, but also present a poor image to the public. Well-maintained facilities are a credit to the agency to which they belong.
Permits and franchises are issued for occupancy or use of public Rights-of-Way when the applicant does not have property rights. These agreements define the responsibilities of parties using the public R/W. Permit procedures incorporate standards to preserve the integrity, visual quality, operational safety, and function of the public R/W. Industry codes and standards for construction and maintenance of utilities provide for safe, reliable, and economical installations of individual faculties. Failure to adequately regulate the R/W can result in liability and additional costs to the City and the facility owner.