City of Jacksonville Working on New Right-of-Way Ordinance

By Benjamin Cox on January 9, 2024 at 11:29am

The City of Jacksonville is partnering with an out of town law firm to draft an ordinance to govern the city’s utility right of ways.

Jacksonville City Planner Brian Nyberg says that right-of-way ordinance has become a necessity due to all of the current work being performed by various companies: “There has been more work in the utility right-of-way in the last 3 years that I believe there has been in the last 30 years. Many people have been complaining about workers being on their private property. That has happened a time or two, but most of the time, the utility work has been done inside the utility right-of-way, which these contractors actually have a right to be there to do the work. We need to get an ordinance for those companies that work beyond dark and they don’t replace the yards and sidewalks back to the way they were prior to the work being done.”

The ordinance is being drafted in consultation with Taylor Law Office, P.C. out of Effingham, which has worked with multiple municipalities around the state to draft similar ordinances. Mayor Andy Ezard said during Monday night’s meeting that the law firm had recently worked with the City of Auburn to draft its right-of-way ordinance.

Nyberg says that the ordinance will be tailored specifically for Jacksonville: “There will actually be an ordinance written that has the rules the utility companies have to abide by. Then, it will have penalties if they don’t. Also, bonding will be required for any work that’s being done. Iff the City has to get that work done, there will be money to follow that the city can use in case there are problems.”

Nyberg hopes that the ordinance will curtail any further complaints about work being done in neighborhoods, and also allow companies to know what they can and cannot do when it comes to working in the right-of-way: “We’ve talked to a couple of different municipalities. This attorney has worked with multiple municipalities, as far as the work being done in the right-of-way. There is information that goes out to the homeowners prior, and there is actually information that goes out to the contractor prior to them doing the work, as well. It will be for both sides. It will be better for the City. It will be better for constituents, but it will also let the contractors know up front what’s expected of them.”

Nyberg’s office is expected to work with Taylor Law Office over the next month to present a draft of the ordinance to the city council for approval, likely in February.