Frequently asked questions regarding the right of way
- What is the road department right of way?
- When do I need a right of way permit?
- Do I need a permit for a new driveway even if I do the work myself?
- There is a dead deer on the side of the road…
- Where can I install my mailbox?
- What type of mailbox can I install?
- Can the road department remove my mailbox?
- I want to plant some trees/flowers along the road. Is that ok?
- Can I fill in the ditch in front of my property?
- Why are you cutting down the trees on my road?
What is the road department right of way?
The width of the road right of way can vary a great deal. In general, the road department right of way is typically 66 feet wide, approximately 33 feet on both sides of the section/survey line (which typically corresponds to the roadway centerline). There are instances where the roadway centerline does not match the section/survey line, and in these cases, the limits of the right of way are not quite as straightforward. If a property owner needs to identify where the limits of the road right of way are or need true locations of their property lines, a professional surveying/engineering company should be hired.[Top]
When do I need a right of way permit?
Anytime a person or business does any construction work in the road right of way (normally 66 feet wide – 33 feet each direction from the center of the road) they need to obtain a permit. This applies to driveway installation or resurfacing, or any other construction type activity, such as tree removal, utility installation, special signage installation, ditch modification or minor landscaping within the county’s right of way.[Top]
Do I need a permit for a new driveway even if I do the work myself?
Yes, a permit from the road department is required anytime work is performed in county road right of way. When you apply for a permit you are helping the road department maintain safety for both yourself and the traveling public. Most traffic accidents occur at intersections or where vehicles are entering or leaving the roadway. The road department inspects each proposed drive location to assure that adequate sight distance is available, to determine what drainage improvements might be necessary, and to review the site for other potential safety problems before a permit is issued. Although there is a charge for a residential driveway permit, there is no permit fee for most other minor work in road right of way, although we require that all contractors follow accepted traffic safety procedures and furnish adequate insurance coverage to protect both the homeowner and the public.[Top]
There is a dead deer on the side of the road…
The Calhoun County Road Department (CCRD) only removes dead deer on state roads, unnless they are in the traveled portion of the roadway that could create a safety hazard to the traveling public.[Top]
Where can I install my mailbox?
Mailboxes shall be located on the right-hand side of the roadway in the direction of the delivery route. The bottom of the box shall be set at an elevation, established by the U.S. Postal Service, usually between 36 inches and 45 inches above the roadway surface. Typically, the roadside face of the mailbox is offset 8 inches to 12 inches from the outside edge of the road shoulder. Exceptions to the lateral placement criteria may occur on residential streets and certain designated rural roads where it is in the public interest to alter the location. On curbed streets, the roadside face of the mailbox shall be set back from the face of the curb a distance between 6 inches and 12 inches. On residential streets without curbs, or on all-weather shoulders which carry low-traffic volumes and which operate at low speeds, the roadside face of a mailbox shall be offset between 8 inches and 12 inches behind the edge of the pavement. Where a mailbox is located at an intersecting road, it shall be located no closer than a minimum of 100 feet from the intersection. The distance may need to be increased if safety needs so require. Mailboxes and newspaper delivery boxes located in the right of way should be constructed in a manner which does not interfere with the safety of the traveling public or the maintenance and operation of the road system. A mailbox installation that does not conform to the provisions of road department policy will be considered as unauthorized encroachment on the right of way and removal shall be administered in accordance with State of Michigan Act 368, Public Acts of 1925, as amended. This policy is consistent with the rules and regulations of the U.S. Postal Service.[Top]
What type of mailbox can I install?
Mailboxes shall be of light steel, metal or plastic construction conforming to requirements of the U.S. Postal Service. Newspaper delivery boxes shall be of light steel, metal or plastic construction of minimum dimensions suitable for holding a newspaper. No more than two mailboxes may be mounted on a support structure unless the support structure and mailbox arrangement meet American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standards. However, lightweight newspaper boxes may be mounted below the mailbox on the side of the mailbox support. Mailbox supports shall not be set in concrete unless the support has been shown to be safe by crash tests when so installed. A single 4-inch x 4-inch or 4-1/2-inch diameter wooden post or a metal post with a strength no greater than a 2-inch diameter standard strength steel pipe and embedded no more than 24 inches into the ground will be acceptable as a mailbox support. A metal post shall not be fitted with an anchor plate but it may have an anti-twist device that extends no more than 10 inches below the ground surface. The post-to-box attachment details should be of sufficient strength to prevent the box from separating from the top post if the installation is struck by a vehicle.[Top]
Can the road department remove my mailbox?
Yes, any mailbox that is found to violate the intent of this policy shall be removed by the owner upon notification. At the discretion of the county road department and based on an assessment of hazard to the public, the owner will be granted not less than 24 hours nor more than 30 days to remove an unacceptable installation. If not removed within the specified time, the installation can be removed by the road department at the owner’s expense as provided by Act 368, Public Acts of 1925, as amended.[Top]
I want to plant some trees/flowers along the road. Is that ok?
If landscaping is placed too close to the edge of the road it can be a hazard to the traveling public, maintenance vehicles, and pose a potential liability for property owners. and, of course, shrubs and trees planted in that area are exposed to damage from traffic, snowplowing, and sweeping operations. Please do not plant any trees or shrubs that may become a vision obstruction or that may grow into a large fixed object that presents danger to motorists anywhere inside the road right of way. Trees, landscaping and underground sprinkler systems can ONLY be placed outside of the road right of way. Before planting trees or flowers along the roadway, please contact the road department to verify the width of the right of way.[Top]
Can I fill in the ditch in front of my property?
If there is a ditch along the road in front of your property you should not fill it in even if it doesn’t drain water along the road. The purpose of most roadside ditches is to prevent water from pooling on the roadway during or after a storm, to provide an area for snow storage from snowplowing operations, 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.[Top]
Why are you cutting down the trees on my road?
Sometimes roadsides have become overgrown with brush and trees over the years to the point that fairly extensive trimming and cutting is necessary to restore safe sight distance for motorists along the road and to help prevent vehicle collisions. It also helps to maintain our roads by allowing sunlight to hit the road, drying the water and preventing the formation of potholes. In some areas trees and brush have to be cut in order to obtain the width needed for gravel surfacing. We may also remove dead trees wherever possible to prevent them from falling into the road.[Top]