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Posted on: March 22, 2022

Right of Ways Project


The Town of Surf City is currently working on policies to address cleaning up right of ways as Council and staff continue working to improve life on the island.  This will be a large project and will require more time for proper planning.  As part of the planning process, we will offer several public meetings in late summer so we can address the concerns you may have as we tackle this project together.  Cleaning up our right of ways will be completed in phases to reduce the burden on property owners and to ensure we assess each area with the appropriate considerations.  Due to timing, and our summer season upon us, we plan to begin this project later this year in the Fall season.  This will also allow the Town to address any right of way issues on town-owned properties in late summer, prior to implementing any policy changes. 

Staff and Council feel that clearing our right of ways is necessary and will benefit our town in the following ways:  

    Maintain Site Triangles & Clear Recovery Zones

    Pedestrian Access

    Emergency Vehicle Clearance

    Street Maintenance


    Access to Utility Assets

    Parking Management

SITE TRIANGLES & CLEAR RECOVERY ZONES - As traffic has increased significantly over the last 10 years, our traffic has become more of a hazard.  A site triangle, as provided in the example below, is the 10 ft. triangular distance for visibility as drivers make turns out of intersections. These site triangles on our island have become increasingly more challenging to navigate with increased landscaping in the right of ways.  This prevents drivers from being able to clearly see before pulling out of intersections which could become dangerous. 

A clear recovery zone is the distance you have on each side of the road for drivers who may cross the white line by accident or for emergency stops.  This could be caused by dodging an animal or object in the roadway or having to pullover in a medical emergency, but either way, having a clear right of way will be safer for those conditions and prevent cars from hitting rocks, trees, or other landscape. 

PEDESTRIAN ACCESS - As we continue to look at having a more pedestrian-friendly environment on our island, clearing our right of ways will be critical.  We want to encourage walking, jogging, biking, and other similar activities safely and provide a clear space for everyone to enjoy.  Whether you are walking your pet or taking a stroll after dinner, we want it to be enjoyable and without the stress of walking in the roadway.

EMERGENCY VEHICLE CLEARANCE - In times of emergency situations, our fire trucks, EMS/Ambulance, police vehicles, and first responders need a clearance to get through traffic in order to help those in need.  Having a clear right of way will ensure we are able to provide these critical medical and emergency services to include ocean rescue. If traffic is blocked or an officer has to pull to the side of the road, the right of way needs to be clear.

STREET MAINTENANCE – Crews routinely need to maintain and fix our roadways throughout Town. This may include running the street sweeper along the edge of pavement, fixing shoulders, or patching potholes. They need room to work which is another reason to have rights of way extend beyond the actual road. Further, obstructions in the right of ways create stormwater issues by trapping the water in the street as opposed to draining away. Standing water in the roadways leads to faster deterioration which means repairs must be completed more frequently, costing you and the Town more money.

STORMWATER – The Town of Surf City has been evaluating the need to improve stormwater on our island for many years.  Part of the challenge with eliminating standing water on our roads is having barriers created by landscaping.  With clearing our right of ways, we will be able to address the needs more effectively and hopefully provide some relief from the flooding on the island seen during rainstorms. 

ACCESS TO UTILITY ASSETS – In many cases, landscaping such as flowers, bushes, and trees are planted on or around meter boxes and underground lines, causing issues with utility services.  This vegetation must be removed anytime staff from our Public Utilities department gets a call for service in order to address the issue.  Additionally, many times the roots from these plantings will create issues with the water lines underneath them.  

PARKING MANAGEMENT – Until last year, there was no easy or safe way to manage parking on the island which caused a chaotic parking scene which left many homeowners having no way to prevent visitors from parking in the right of way in front of the house.  This left many homeowners and businesses to find alternate solutions to preventing unwanted parking on the right of way through planting trees, building walls, using rocks, etc.  While we completely understand why the attempt was made over previous years, we now have an easy way to manage parking through our parking management office and need to continue addressing safety (to include parking, pedestrian-friendly accessibility, emergency services, etc.) in our community. 


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