Arkansas Outdoor Advertising Association

Restore Sign Visibility Policy (RSVP)

Published July 1, 2008 under Member Resources.

ARKANSAS STATE HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT AT OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGNS
RESTORE SIGN VISIBILITY POLICY (RSVP)

Revised March 7, 2005

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures whereby sign owners may obtain permits from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to restore the visibility to their signs from adjacent State Highways.

DEFINITIONS

Conforming Sign is a lawfully erected sign that complies with all local and State laws and regulations pertaining to the erection and maintenance of signs.

Legal Nonconforming Sign is a lawfully erected sign that does not comply with all local or State laws and regulations pertaining to the erection and maintenance of signs effective after the lawful erection
of the sign.

Illegal Sign is a sign that was erected, or is being maintained, in violation of local or State law or regulations pertaining to the erection and maintenance of signs, and which does not qualify as a legal
nonconforming sign.

On-premise Sign is a sign advertising those products or services available at the sign site, including “for sale or lease” signs located at the property they advertise.

Off-premise Sign is a sign advertising those products or services not available at the sign site.

Vegetation Control is the mowing, bush hogging, cutting, trimming, pruning, and/or selective removal of vegetation on State Highway rights of way.

POLICY

It Is the policy of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to allow, by Restore Sign Visibility Policy (RSVP) permits, the mowing, bush hogging, cutting, trimming, pruning, and/or selective removal of vegetation on State Highway rights of way to restore the visibility of signs from State Highways where such visibility has been diminished from the original erection of the signs. This policy applies to the visibility of legal, permitted, on-premise and legal, permitted, off-premise signs, both conforming and nonconforming, and not to illegal signs. RSVP permits will not be issued In relation to illegal signs, nor for those new signs erected where visibility Is limited.

  1. RSVP permits authorize vegetation control only on that portion of State Highway right of way that abuts the tract of land on which the Permittee’s sign Is located and/or abuts tracts where owners agree to such control.
  2. RSVP permits shall only be considered for legal, permitted signs that have been in place and legally permitted for more than five (5) years.
  3. RSVP permits authorize vegetation control only when the city or county with jurisdiction concurs with the RSVP policy.
  4. RSVP permits must be obtained for each sign location at which vegetation control will occur, and will be valid for two years from the issuance of the permit, and is renewable.
  5. The vegetation control area shall not exceed more than 400 feet along the highway from the viewable face(s) of the advertising device and cleared to and along the line of sight.
  6. RSVP permits authorize vegetation control only in accordance with accepted landscaping and horticultural principles. All work will be performed in a professional manner, and cuttings and other debris are to be removed at the time the work is performed.
  7. RSVP permits may authorize the removal of dead or diseased trees. Trees that cannot be mowed or bush hogged may be trimmed or pruned In accordance with paragraph 6 provided the work will not permanently damage or destroy the trees, or weaken the condition of the trees so that they are susceptible to disease or insect infestation. Only In those cases, where the owner of the sign is also the owner of the tract of land on which the sign is located, or if the area referenced in paragraph 6 extends in front of adjacent property under different ownership and the owners of other abutting tracts agree, may living, non-diseased trees which cannot be mowed or bush hogged be considered for removal. In these cases, mitigating landscaping may be required to compensate for the tree removal. In no case will historic trees, landmark trees, or trees of significant landscaping and aesthetic value be removed, including those that were planted as a part of a public or private highway beautification or transportation enhancement project.
  8. Access to sites adjacent to Interstate and other controlled access highways must be gained without using the main travelway of the highway. If access to the site is restricted by a fence, then a gate may be installed to provide access. Any gate installed shall remain locked when the vegetation control activity is not underway.
  9. Vegetation control at legal, permitted signs will be allowed only at locations where the advertising sign installation preceded the obscuring growth. Vegetation control shall not be used to provide visibility where none existed at the time the sign was erected or where no visibility exists at a proposed sign location. Only minimum vegetation control necessary to retain visibility will be allowed.
  10. Vegetation control will not be allowed at legal, nonconforming signs that are within 500 feet of National Parks, State Parks, County Parks or City Parks; Wildlife Management Areas; or cemeteries.
  11. The Department will grant a RSVP permit for a legal, nonconforming sign located within the city limits of a municipality when the sign meets all State requirements but has become nonconforming only because of city or county zoning or sign code changes since the erection of the sign.
  12. The Department will only grant a RSVP permit for any other legal, nonconforming sign when the sign owner has removed at least one legal, nonconforming sign of at least 200 square feet, and surrendered the State Billboard Permit(s) to the Department for cancellation. The removal of at least one legal, nonconforming sign is only required for the original issuance of a RSVP permit for a legal, nonconforming sign and not for the renewal of a RSVP permit for a legal, nonconforming sign.
  13. At locations which have no State-erected barrier between the State Highway right of way and the adjacent property and where mowing has previously been allowed by business owners or sign owners
    without a RSVP permit, mowing will be allowed to continue without a RSVP permit.
  14. No vegetation control will be allowed within median areas of divided highways.
  15. Trees having a diameter outside bark of more than six (6) inches, measured one foot above ground level, shall not be removed, except as stated In paragraph 7.
  16. VegetatIon control should not leave large, open spaces in the general outline of the tree.
  17. No topping of trees will be allowed.
  18. RSVP permits granted for vegetation removal may require mitigation in the form of replacement plantings. Maintenance of these plantings shall become the responsibility of the Permittee.
  19. Stumps shall be cut or ground flush with the ground and treated with an EPA-approved herbicide Immediately after the stump is cut.
  20. The permitted vegetation control shall result in a height of the remaining vegetation that is relatively consistent with that of adjacent areas along the highway right of way. No “clear cutting” will be allowed.
  21. The Permittee shall be required to carry /lability insurance with a limit of at least $1 million per occurrence.
  22. A performance bond of at least $1,000 per site shall be required to ensure the restoration of highway right of way. In lieu of an individual performance bond for each site, sign owners may choose to post a standing performance bond In an amount of at least $1,000 per site up to a maximum of $50,000.
  23. The Permittee fully agrees to hold harmless the Arkansas State Highway Commission and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and their officers, agents, and employees from any and all damages of any nature to any person or property due to any performance or non-performance of any work authorized by the permit.
  24. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department may, with good cause, deny, revoke, or amend any RSVP permit.

VIOLATION OF PERMIT

State Billboard Permits may be revoked if RSVP permit provisions are violated, or if vegetation control activities are performed before issuance of an RSVP permit. In addition to the revocation of State Billboard permits, mitigating landscaping and/or vegetation restoration may be required by the Department. All costs of any damages to State property and/or right of way shall be paid by the Permittee. Violation of RSVP permit policy may result in denial of future requests for RSVP permits.

PROCEDURES

  1. RSVP permits are issued by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s Environmental Division in coordination with the District Engineer for the highway district in which the sign site is located.
  2. Individual RSVP permits must be requested for each sign site and include:
    1. An application fee (non-refundable) made payable to the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department in the amount of $10 per each 100 feet (or portion thereof) to be cleared along the highway.
    2. A performance bond in the amount of at least $1000 per site issued or counter-signed by a resident Arkansas agent, or In the form of cash or cashier’s check. In lieu of a performance bond for each site, a standing performance bond In the amount equal to at least $1000 per site up to a maximum of $50.000 may be posted.
    3. Proof of liability insurance with a limit of at least $1 million.
    4. State Highway number.
    5. A specific written proposal of the vegetation control work to be performed on the right of way to restore the visibility of the sign, including the name, address, telephone number, and signature of the sign owner, and the location of the. sign site and State Billboard Permit number.
    6. Type of vegetation control to be performed.
    7. 8″ x 10″ photograph(s) of the State Highway right of way vegetation interfering with the view of the sign and which is the subject of the RSVP permit request.
    8. A drawing of the right of way area where the work is to be performed Indicating the vegetation to be mowed, bush hogged, cut, trimmed, pruned, and/or removed on the right of way. The drawing shall also show the length of frontage along the right of way boundary of the tract of land on which the sign is located.
    9. A signed statement(s) by the owner(s) of the land at the sign site or the owner(s) of other abutting tract(s) of land Indicating concurrence with the proposed work on that portion of the right of way abutting the landowner’s tract(s).
    10. A signed statement, from the city or county official with jurisdiction, Indicating no objection to the proposed vegetation control work.
  3. For requests that meet the terms of this policy, the Environmental Division will notify the District Engineer to issue a RSVP permit. For requests that do not meet the terms of this polley, the Environmental Division will respond accordingly.

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