Planning & Zoning in Michigan>Private Road Ordinances

Private Road Ordinances
This information was adapted from the 'Shiawassee & Huron Headwaters Preservation Project' developed by Oakland County Planning and Carlisle Wortman & Associates.

Private roads can be an effective tool to allow reasonable and safe access to properties while avoiding some of the grading, increase in impervious surfaces, and tree removal often associated with public road standards. When coupled with Planned Unit Developments and/or open space development ordinances, private road regulations can be used as an incentive for more creative, environmentally compatible development and serve to aid in more effective stormwater management.

Section. ________. Private Road Regulations
(a.) Intent. The (community) recognizes that, due to the specific requirements of any given development, application of adopted public road design standards may result in development with excessive paving and grading, increased stormwater runoff, and loss of vegetation. It is also the intent of this Ordinance to recognize that stormwater runoff has been traditionally treated as a by-product of development to be disposed of as quickly and efficiently as possible. The result has often been increased flooding, degradation of water quality, soil erosion and sedimentation, and a failure to capitalize on the benefit of creative stormwater management. However, unobstructed, safe, and continuous vehicle access to lots is necessary to promote and protect the public health, safety, and welfare to ensure that public services can safely enter and exit private property at all times.
It is the intent of this Ordinance to permit access to the interior of certain properties within the (community) by private roads that are subject to minimum standards and specifications. These standards and limitations are intended to permit unobstructed, safe, and continuous vehicle access, as well as, encourage road design standards which will result in the reduction of impervious surfaces and the preservation of vegetation, in order to more appropriately manage stormwater. It is further the intent of this Ordinance to ensure that private roads are maintained and repaired by the private property owners, who own and use the road.
The procedures, standards, and specifications hereinafter set forth are determined to be the minimum procedures, standards, and specifications necessary to meet the intent of this ordinance.
(b.) Definitions.
(1) Easement - The right of an owner of property by reason of such ownership, to use the property of another for purposes of ingress, egress, utilities, drainage, and similar uses. In the context of this Ordinance, private road easements shall be designated for purpose of vehicle ingress and egress.

(2) Private Road - An area of land that is privately owned, provides vehicular access to more than one (1) lot and has not been dedicated to public use other than access by emergency and public safety vehicles, and is maintained by its private owners.

(3) Public Street or Right-of-Way - A public or dedicated right-of-way, which affords the principal means of vehicular access to abutting property and which is under public ownership or control.

(4) Private Road Administrator - An official appointed by the (community) to administer the Private Road Ordinance.

(c.) Permit Application and Review Requirements. Each application for a private road shall be accompanied by completed plans prepared and sealed by civil engineer or land surveyor registered in the State of Michigan, which include the information contained herein. Where the required information is incorporated in the overall site plan of a development, separate road plans shall not be required.

The application and plans for a private road shall include the following information:
(1) The names and addresses of the lot or parcel owners to be served by the private road.

(2) A vicinity map of a minimum scale of one inch equals two thousand feet (1” = 2,000’), showing the location of the private road in the Township, any access roads and cross streets, road names, a scale, and a north arrow.

(3) Existing topography at two (2) foot contour intervals for the portions of the site sufficient to determine drainage from the private road easement to a suitable storm water outlet.

(4) Proposed improvements (including but not limited to, roads, sewers, and ditches) shown in plan and profile indicating all materials, grades, dimensions, and bearings in compliance with the standards set forth in Attachment A. The plans shall also show all existing and proposed grades, the location of all existing and proposed drainage facilities, the location of existing and/or proposed utilities and structures, other structures, physical or natural conditions existing adjacent to such improvements, and any connections to existing public and private roads.

(5) Soil borings within the proposed route of the road. Tree coverage and wetland areas within one hundred (100) feet of either side of the proposed route.

(6) Location of existing buildings on the lots or parcels being served or intended to be served by the private road, as well as, any existing building or structures in or adjacent to any proposed road easement.

(7) Plans shall show the existing or proposed location of private utilities and easements, such as gas, telephone, and electric.

(8) A complete statement of all the terms and conditions of the proposed road easement, including copies of all agreements or intended agreements regarding the maintenance and improvements of the right-of-way and roadway. Furthermore, said maintenance agreements shall be in such form as to be recordable with the County Register of Deeds and shall specifically address the liability and responsibility of the parties to said agreement to maintain the private road pursuant to the specifications of this article, including, but not limited to, the responsibility of removing snow from said private roads. The recorded statement which runs with the land, shall also inform subsequent purchasers that the road is private and may never be maintained or accepted by the County Road Commission.

(9) Appropriate deed restrictions and/or master deed provisions shall provide for free and clear vehicular access for emergency service vehicles on all private roads.

(d.) Design Standards.
(1) The design and construction of all private roads shall comply with the most currently published American Society of Highway Traffic Officials (ASHTO) standards for the criteria applicable to the private road, subject to the approval of the (community) Engineer (see attachment A). If the private road provides direct access to a county road, approval of the road connection, placement, and design must be approved by the County Road Commission prior to (community) approval.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of the Ordinance, private roads in subdivisions platted prior to the enactment of this Ordinance and private roads or easements that are contained in land divisions approved by the (community) prior to the enactment of this Ordinance, shall continue to meet the specifications approved at the time of application. Upon expansion, reconstruction, or major alteration of an existing private road, new construction shall comply with the most currently published American Society of Highway Traffic Officials (ASHTO) standards for the criteria applicable to the private road. The (community) Engineer shall determine if this provision is met.

(e.) Inspection. Prior to the initiation of construction, a pre-construction conference will be held with the applicant, (community) Engineer, and Private Road Administrator. Evidence of issuance of County Road Commission and soil erosion control permits shall be provided by the applicant at the time of the meeting.

All required improvements shall be inspected by the (community) Engineer or designated (community) official at various stages of construction. The (community) Engineer or Private Road Administrator shall make a final inspection upon completion of construction and shall report the results of the final inspection to the (community) in writing. The applicant's engineer shall certify to the (community), before the final inspection and report thereon are made, that the required improvements were made in accordance with this article and all approved plans.

The costs of inspection, including compensation of the (community) Engineer or (community) official shall be paid by the applicant prior to the issuance of the certificate of completion. The (community) shall establish and determine the costs of inspection. If the applicant does not directly pay the costs of inspection, the same shall be paid from the deposit established by the (community) and held by the (community), and the balance, if any, shall be returned to the applicant.

(f.) Permit Approval Procedure.
(1) Upon receipt of an application, the Private Road Administrator shall bring the application before the (legislative body) at its next regular meeting. The (legislative body) may refer the application to the Planning Commission and any other appropriate body for review and comment.

(2) The (community) Engineer shall report in writing to the (legislative body) as to whether or not the proposed private road conforms to the standards and specifications of this Ordinance. Said report may include any suggested conditions to be attached to the Permit that, in the Engineer's judgment, are necessary to achieve the intent of this Ordinance.

(3) The (legislative body) shall consider the application, the Engineer's report, and all other relevant information in determining whether to grant the Permit application. If the information submitted by the applicant does not establish that the proposed private road will conform to the standards and specifications of this Ordinance, the (legislative body) shall not grant the Permit. The (legislative body) shall impose such conditions on the approval of the Permit as it deems necessary to achieve the intent and objectives of this Ordinance, which may include, but need not be limited to, conditions suggested by the Engineer. The breach of any such condition proposed by the (legislative body) shall automatically invalidate the Permit.

(4) As a condition to the granting of any Permit under this Ordinance, the (legislative body) shall require that the applicant deposit with the Private Road Administrator a sum of money, bank letter of credit or certified check, in an amount sufficient to guarantee that the applicant shall perform the terms and conditions of the permit, including the payment of required fees. Upon completion of all improvements required by this Ordinance, any unused portion of the deposit shall be refunded to the applicant.

(5) Upon receipt of the required deposit and predetermined fees and approval, the Private Road Administrator shall issue the Permit pursuant to the terms established by the (legislative body) approving the application.

(6) Only the (legislative body) shall have the authority to approve or deny applications for permits. No other permit issued by any Official or other governmental body or official shall be a substitute for a Permit.

(g.) Variances.
(1) Variances may only be granted by the (community) upon the finding that at least one of the two following conditions have been met:

a. That a variance or exemption is required in order to comply with conflicting County or State laws, rules, or regulations.

b. That there are such special circumstances or conditions affecting said property that strict application of the provisions of this Ordinance would clearly be impractical or unreasonable. This may include topographic, vegetative, or drainage conditions.

(2) In order to grant a variance, the (community) shall also find:

a. That the granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property in the area in which said property is situated.

b. That such variance or exemption will not have the effect of nullifying the intent and purpose of this Ordinance, the Master Plan, or the Zoning Ordinance.

(h.) Violations. Any person who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both such fine and imprisonment. Any access that is used in violation of the terms of this article be and the same is hereby declared to be a nuisance per se, and such use may be abated, restrained, enjoined, and prohibited, upon the commencement of an appropriate action in the court of competent jurisdiction.

(i.) Fees. The (legislative body) shall establish by resolution a fee schedule to defray costs of inspection, plan review, administration, and enforcement of this article.

(j.) Severability. The provisions of this ordinance are severable and any decision by any Court of competent jurisdiction that any provision or clause hereof is invalid shall not affect the validity of the remainder of this ordinance.

(k.) Compliance with Other Statutes, Ordinance Order, or Regulation. Nothing in this Ordinance is intended to permit any practice which is a violation of any statute, ordinance, order or regulation, and no provision contained in this ordinance is intended to impair or abrogate any civil remedy or process whether legal or equitable which might otherwise be available to any person.

(l.) Effective Date. This ordinance was adopted by the (legislative body) at a regular meeting thereof held on the day of and shall become effective thirty days after publication.

Attachment A

Minimum Private Road Standards
As Per the American Society of Highway Traffic Officials (ASHTO)

1. Average Daily Traffic Volumes (ADT) - 9.5 vehicles per day per single family detached dwelling; 8 vehicles per day per each attached dwelling unit.
2. Design Speed - 20 mph
3. Stopping Sight Distance - 125 feet
4. Vertical Alignment - 0.5% minimum, 10.0% maximum
5. Horizontal Alignment - 100 ft. minimum radius
6. Right-of-Way Width - With ditches: 60 feet, 100-ft. diameter at cul-de-sacs; With curb & gutter: 50 feet, 100-ft. diameter at cul-de-sacs
7. Road Width (width of pavement, edge to edge - ADT less than 250: 18 feet ADT over 400: 20 feet
8. Shoulder Width (graded slope) - Shoulders not required with curb & gutter; otherwise: ADT less than 400: 2 feet (each side), ADT over 400: 4 feet (each side)
9. Curb and Gutter - Concrete curb and gutter permitted
10. Cul-de-Sacs - 66-foot diameter minimum
- to edge of pavement (not including shoulders or curb & gutter)
-islands permitted when road is paved
-islands must include curb & gutter
11. Intersection Offsets - Private road intersections shall be directly aligned with other streets or roads, or offset at least 250 feet from a public road or offset at least 125 feet from a private road (measurement from centerline to centerline)
12. Road Surface - Less than 5 houses: 7 inches compacted thickness of 21AA, 22A, or 23A gravel. Five (5) or more houses: 3 inches of bituminous surface, placed in two courses over a 7-inch gravel base of 6-inches of concrete.
13. Sub-Base - Six (6) inches of compacted Class II sand. On-site material may be used if laboratory analysis indicates that it meets specification requirements. Sub-base not required for concrete pavement.
14. Drainage - Ditches: 2'-0" minimum depth from centerline, IV; 3H front and back slopes; 2' bottom width. Culverts/Storm Sewers: Pipe must comply with MDOT Standard Specifications. Provide minimum 2-foot of cover over pipe at road crossings. End sections must be provided at culvert ends.
15. Horizontal Clearance to Obstructions - All trees and other objects must be removed from the roadway to the back slope of the ditch 1' above the ditch bottom.
16. Erosion Control/Restoration - All areas disturbed by construction must be topsoiled, seeded, and mulched. Steep slopes may require sod or riprap. Temporary erosion control measures must be utilized.
17. Private Road Sign - Each private road shall be identified with a sign at each intersection. These signs shall be distinguishable from public street signs.
18. Traffic Control Devices - Provide stop signs and street signs at entrance and interior intersections (comply with MMUTCD Manual). Provide a speed limit sign (5 MHP less than the design speed) following each intersection, located 100' to 200' from the intersection. Provide pedestrian crossing signs at all trail/walkway crossings.
19. County Road Commission Approval - If the private road intersects a County road, a permit for the approach must be obtained from the County Road Commission prior to Township review. A copy of the permit shall be attached with the application.
Source: Hamburg Township Private Road Ordinance as taken from the American Society of Highway Traffic Officials (ASHTO)
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