Ordinances Protect Land From Damage

February 23, 2008
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LANSING — Communities across the state are trying to hold companies responsible for equipment installed and maintained on public property.

Video service providers — such as Internet and cable TV companies — will have to change the way they put in and repair equipment on public rights-of-way under new ordinances.

"There are some providers that are taking advantage of communities in how they install their equipment," said Robert Peterson, village manager of Elk Rapids, one municipality pushing for such a local law.

Public rights-of-way include underground utilities, streets, parking areas and sidewalks.

Such ordinances would help municipalities control and protect their rights-of-way, said Tim Lundgren of Varnum Riddering, the Grand Rapids law firm that has drafted ordinances for many Michigan local governments.

"Many of those protections had been stripped away," Lundgren said. "They had to be restored somehow."

Other municipalities looking into the proposals include Ludington and Tawas City. Other cities, such as Plainwell, have already adopted such ordinances.

Current state law says that a video service provider must be allowed to install and construct equipment on rights-of-way. If anything happens to such public property while a provider is installing or repairing equipment, it is the local government's responsibility to fix it.

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