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Posted on: April 19, 2018

Understanding Road Right-of-Way

Right of Way

In the spring many homeowners start undertaking landscaping projects in their yards but remember to keep in mind the activities you do in the road right-of-way.

What is the road right-of-way?

The road right-of-way is the piece of land on either side of a public road. This area is used by the City to ensure the safety of drivers and improve the road. Road right-of-way is also utilized for non-motorized paths and sidewalks. It is also used to place utilities, like water, sewer, storm sewer, gas, electric, telephone and cable lines.

The size of the right-of-way can vary depending on the type of road and other circumstances. A typical right-of-way is 66’ wide (33’ from the centerline on each side of the road). But this is not always the case, so homeowners are encouraged to verify the right-of-way on their property before doing any work.

What can, or can’t I do in the right-of-way?

To ensure the safety of the public, the City is mandated by law to be the caretakers of the right-of-way. The law also states that any work performed in the road right-of-way requires a permit from the City of East Grand Rapids to keep the road safe for public travel. Objects placed in the right-of-way can become a hazard and make it difficult to improve the road, pathway, or utility installations in the right-of-way. Some examples of the types of work that require a permit are:

  • Adding or improving a driveway approach
  • Adding, improving, or maintaining a public or private utility
  • Adding or improving a sidewalk or non-motorized path
  • Adding storm water to or improving a roadside drainage system
  • Surveying and other engineering operations
  • Placing a banner, decoration, or similar object
  • Grading or excavation, landscaping, tree planting, tree trimming or tree removal
  • Any construction activity that impacts storm water runoff into or around  the road right-of-way

Permanent landscaping objects, such as fencing, are not generally allowed in the right-of-way and can be removed by the City if they are placed without a permit. Mailboxes are always allowed in the road right-of-way, without a permit, if they conform to the specifications from the City of East Grand Rapids and the US Postal Service.

So, remember this spring, when you are planning to do lawn work and landscaping improvements, to know where the right-of-way is and obtain a permit if necessary from the City of East Grand Rapids. By doing this you can help the City in maintaining the right-of-way and keeping the roads safe for drivers and pedestrians. Please contact the Public Works at 616-940-4817 if you have any questions regarding right-of-way work. 

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