Sidewalks & Paths

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:

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 conflicts with public utility improvement.

Right-of-Way Encroachment Policy

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

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. Permit applications and information are available on our Special Services Department website.

Some examples of work that 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
  • Excavating/filling roadside ditches
  • Surveying and other engineering operations
  • Placing a banner, decoration, or similar object
  • Closing a section of county road for a parade, celebration, festival, bike/run event, 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

Can trees be planted in the right-of-way?

The Road Commission established a county-wide Tree Planting Policy to balance the benefits that trees can provide, the desires of the community, and related safety concerns.

The policy depicts tree planting locations as it relates to the type of road, number of lanes within the road, and the speed limit. On subdivision streets, the policy allows trees to be planted 25 feet from the centerline of the road.

REMINDER: A permit must be obtained from the OCRC in order to plant a tree within the ROW.