Right-of-Way Management and Fees

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The public rights-of-way (ROW) are used by utilities and other service providers to install wires, pipes, and other facilities for gas, water, sewer, electric, broadband and other services.  There has been a higher level of activity by these providers in the last several years as new technologies have been deployed and new services have been launched.

Municipalities are required by state law to manage this activity in the ROW, which results in significant costs to the municipalities. These costs include: 1) direct costs, such as permitting, utility coordination, and inspections; 2) indirect costs, such as central support and other “overhead costs”; and 3) street degradation costs.

Depending on the laws of the particular state, municipalities have the legal right to recover these ROW management costs from the providers.  Most likely, your municipality is “under-recovering” these costs from utilities and other service providers.  If so, your municipality is not receiving the revenue it deserves for cost recovery and your taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the service providers for these costs.

The Cohen Law Group has worked with many municipalities to develop fee schedules applicable to service providers that relate directly to the municipality’s ROW management costs.  In addition to adding new revenues to achieve cost recovery, municipalities can gain greater control over the ROW’s through a ROW Management Ordinance that: 1) establishes a streamlined permitting process; 2) requires coordination of utility construction activities; 3) obtains facilities mapping and related information; and 4) and provides legal protections for the municipality. 

Our attorneys also negotiate with service providers on behalf of municipalities for right-of-way agreements and pole attachment agreements.  The top priorities for these negotiations typically are to protect public safety and maximize revenue to the municipalities.  The Cohen Law Group has the expertise and the experience to guide municipalities through the ROW management process.  Our attorneys are available to discuss ROW management and fees – please call or check our online schedule for a brief, no-obligation consultation.