Utility – Franchise

The Special Services Department reviews and administers all permit applications. A permit is required from the Road Commission for any and all work being conducted within the road right-of-way, including utilities, and oversize and overweight vehicles.

Documents related to permit applications are found below. They should be completed in accordance with our Procedures and Regulations for Permitted Activities, and then returned to the Special Services Department for review.

Please send completed application and forms to: permits@ottawacorc.com

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a right-of-way encroachment?

Michigan law prohibits the placement of any object, except authorized mailbox mountings, within the county road right-of-way unless that object is permitted by the Road Commission.

In many instances, property owners or contractors place fences, rocks/boulders, trees/shrubs, earthwork (including berms), signs, or other objects within the road right-of-way as a measure of improving landscape. However, these fixed objects often become hazards to errant motorists, vision obstructions, or interfere with road and public utility improvements.

The Road Commission asks for everyone’s cooperation in keeping the road right-of-way free of all potential hazards and future road and public utility improvement conflicts.

Right-of-Way Encroachment Policy

When is a permit required for work within the right-of-way?

In accordance with Act 200 of the Public Acts of 1969, any activity or use of county road right-of-way other than for highway travel purposes does require a permit from the Road Commission.
A permit is required from the Road Commission for any and all work being conducted within the road right-of-way whether it is by a contractor or a property owner.

Some examples of work that typically 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
  • Closing a section of road for a parade, celebration, festival, demonstration, or similar activity
  • Grading or excavation, landscaping, tree planting, tree trimming or tree removal
  • Any construction activity that impacts storm water runoff into or around county road right-of-way
  • Standard mailboxes are allowed without a permit in the road right-of-way.
Can a roadside ditch be filled in?

If there is a ditch along the road in front of your property, you should not fill it in even if it does not drain water to a positive outlet. The purpose of most roadside ditches is to prevent water from pooling on the roadway during or after a storm, and to lower the water table beneath the roadbed. Filling in even a fairly shallow roadside ditch can cause serious damage to the road and pavement from frost heave, and increases the chance that water and ice will build up on the road and create a hazard to motorists.

If an open ditch is not desired, a property owner can obtain a permit to enclose the ditch with storm sewer to insure proper roadside drainage.

Understanding Roadside Drainage