VEGETATION MANAGEMENT AT OUTDOOR ADVERTISING
The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures whereby
sign owners may obtain permits from the Arkansas State Highway and
Transportation Department (AHTD) to restore the visibility to their signs from
adjacent State Highways controlled pursuant to the Regulations for the Control
of Outdoor Advertising.
Certified Arborist is a
specialist in the care and maintenance of trees who possesses an active
Arborist Certificate from the International Society of Arboriculture.
Class A Permit is a permit
for a sign that met all applicable laws and regulations at the time of
Permit is a permit for a sign that met all applicable laws and
regulations at the time of construction, but no longer complies with applicable
laws and regulations, or a sign that existed prior to the adoption of the
Regulations for Control of Outdoor Advertising. These signs were
Conforming Sign is a lawfully erected sign that complies with all
current local and State laws and regulations pertaining to the erection and
maintenance of signs, regardless of whether the sign has a Class A or Class B
permit. A conforming sign normally has a Class A permit.
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.
Landscaping Mitigation is
the planting of new vegetation to offset damage resulting from removal of
existing vegetation, as it relates to erosion control or aesthetics. For
example, removal of brush, honeysuckle, or thickets may result in slopes that
will erode. AHTD may require the planting of grass or other ground cover to
Nonconforming Sign is a lawfully erected sign that no longer complies
with all current State laws and regulations pertaining to the erection and
maintenance of signs, regardless of whether the sign has a Class A or Class B
permit. A legal nonconforming sign normally has a Class B permit.
Off-premise Sign is a sign
advertising those products or services not available at the sign
Sign is a sign advertising those products or services available at the
sign site, including "for sale" or "for lease" signs located at the property
Vegetation Control is the mowing, bush hogging, cutting, trimming,
pruning, and/or selective removal of vegetation on State Highway rights of
It is the policy of the AHTD 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, off-premise signs, both conforming and nonconforming,
and not to illegal signs. RSVP permits will not be issued in relation to
illegal signs, for signs erected with limited visibility, or to sign owners
with other illegal or abandoned signs.
3.1. 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.
RSVP permits shall only be considered for legal, currently permitted signs that
have had a valid permit for the last two (2) consecutive years.
3.3. RSVP permits must be obtained for each
sign location at which vegetation control will occur and the RSVP permit will
be tied to the relevant sign permit, and must be renewed in a four-year cycle
in July of even numbered years.
3.4. The vegetation control area shall not
exceed more than 500 feet as measured from the viewable face(s) of the
advertising device. Permits will be issued based on 100 foot increments. The
distance will be measured along the nearest edge of the pavement between the
sign and the specified distance. Signs with back to back messages may be issued
a permit for vegetation control for a total of 1,000 feet (500 feet in each
direction), but under no circumstances will the designated area exceed 500 feet
in one direction.
3.5. 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. Trees that cannot be mowed or bush hogged may be trimmed or pruned
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. 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 or aesthetic value be removed,
including trees that were planted as a part of a public or private highway
beautification or transportation enhancement project. RSVP permits may
authorize the removal of dead, diseased, or any other trees designated by
3.6. If a sign owner desires
to restore visibility to a sign in front of an adjacent land owner not
associated with the sign, written approval from the adjacent landowner must be
obtained before an RSVP permit will be issued.
3.7. 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 requested to provide access for right of way mowing only. Gates
will only be permitted after the AHTD notifies the Federal Highway
Administration and receives concurrence. Cutting fences and leaving openings is
not allowed, nor is the destruction of AHTD fences. Any gate installed shall
remain locked when the vegetation control activity is not underway. The gate
shall not be used for routine billboard maintenance such as changing sign
messages. When using gates for sign maintenance or roadway access, leaving the
gate unlocked and unattended, or if AHTD fencing is damaged, will result in a
$200 fine each time a gate is found unlocked and unattended or the fencing is
found damaged and the company does not correct it within 24 hours of being
notified by AHTD.
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
3.9. Vegetation control
will not be allowed at any legal signs that are within 500 feet of National
Parks; State Parks; County Parks or City Parks; Wildlife Management Areas; or
3.10. The AHTD will
grant an 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.
3.11. 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 an RSVP permit, mowing will be allowed to continue without
an RSVP permit.
3.12. No vegetation
control will be allowed within median areas of divided highways.
3.13. Trees having an outside bark diameter
of more than ten (10) inches, measured one foot above ground level, shall not
be removed, nor shall any limbs with an outside bark diameter of more than ten
(10) inches be removed. Dead, diseased, or any other trees designated by AHTD,
as noted in Paragraph 3.5, may be removed if specified in the RSVP
3.14. Vegetation control
should not leave large, open spaces in the general outline of the tree. Shaping
of trees over ten (10) inches to the extent practical may be allowed to control
and direct the growth in a manner consistent with the remaining vegetation of
the adjacent areas along the highway right of way. Shaping of trees shall only
be allowed if performed under the direction of, or as prescribed in a plan
design by a certified arborist. The general outline of the tree should not be
changed if trimmed in accordance with this policy.
3.15. No topping of trees will be
3.16. RSVP permits granted
for vegetation removal may require landscaping mitigation in the form of
replacement plantings. If an applicant removes vegetation and the result is
that a nonconforming junkyard or unsightly area also becomes visible, AHTD may
also require planting of smaller trees or vegetation of a sufficient height to
screen the area. Landscaping mitigation requirements are to be determined by
AHTD. The initial cost and maintenance of these plantings shall be the
responsibility of the Permittee.
3.17. Stumps shall be cut or ground flush
with the ground and may be treated with an EPA-approved herbicide after the
stump is cut. Only the stumps are to be treated. The use of herbicides or
chemicals on the grass or ground cover is not allowed.
3.18. All mowing or cutting must be
accomplished with hand tools, wheeled machinery, or rubber tracked machines not
exceeding three (3) tons. No steel track equipped machines are allowed. Grass
and weeds may be mowed, but surface growth of at least four (4) inches must be
left for erosion control. Digging, scraping, bulldozing, clear cutting, or
'scalping" the ground is not allowed.
3.19. The Permittee shall be required to
carry liability insurance with a limit of at least $1 million per
3.20. 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.
3.21. The Permittee fully agrees to hold
harmless the Arkansas State Highway Commission and the AHTD, 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.
AHTD may, with good cause, deny, revoke, or amend any RSVP permit. If a permit
is revoked the Permittee has a right to request an Administrative
3.23. All RSVP permits
must be renewed in four-year cycles beginning in July 2018 (See paragraph 3.3).
All RSVP permits must be renewed at the same time regardless of the original
date of issue. The permits will allow cutting up to four (4) times per year.
The renewal fee is $160.00 for a four-year renewal. The Permittee must notify
the AHTD's Beautification Section a minimum of three (3) working days before
beginning work. The AHTD, at its option, may arrange to have an inspector on
site while work is being performed.
RSVP permit provisions are violated, the first offense shall be a $500 fine for
each individual offense and/or the surrendering of the State Billboard permit
for that sign, subject to the right to an Administrative Hearing. A second
violation from the same sign owner shall result in the State Billboard permit
for that sign being revoked, subject to the right to an Administrative Hearing,
and the denial of any future requests for RSVP permits from that sign owner for
two (2) years.
4.2. The sign owner
must also provide a statement, signed and dated, agreeing to abide by the terms
of the RSVP permit. The sign owner must also agree to remove the sign at no
cost to the AHTD if the terms of the RSVP permit are violated by either the
sign owner, or as a result of his direction to the land owner or third parties
contracted to carry out vegetation control activities.
5.1. RSVP permits are issued by the AHTD's
Right of Way Division in coordination with the AHTD District Engineer for the
highway district in which the sign site is located.
Individual RSVP permits must be
requested for each sign site and include:
An application fee (non-refundable) made payable to the Arkansas State Highway
and Transportation Department in the amount of $160 per sign designated for
performance bond in the amount of at least $1,000 per site issued or
countersigned 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 $1,000 per site up to a maximum of $50,000 may
c. Proof of liability
insurance with a limit of at least $1 million.
d. State Highway number
e. A specific written proposal of the
vegetation control work to be performed on the highway 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.
f. Type of
vegetation control to be performed.
g. 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.
h. A drawing of the highway 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 highway right of way boundary
of the tract of land on which the sign is located.
i. A signed statement(s) by the landowner(s)
of record of the land at the sign site or the landowners(s) of record of an
abutting tract(s) of land where the vegetation cutting will occur, indicating
concurrence with the proposed work on that portion of the highway right of way
abutting the landowner's tract(s).
j. A signed and dated statement, from the
billboard sign owner or agent, agreeing to abide by the terms of the RSVP
permit. The sign owner will also agree to remove the sign at no cost to the
AHTD if the terms of the RSVP permit are violated by the sign owner, or as a
result of his direction to the land owner or third parties contracted to carry
out vegetation control activities.
5.3. For requests that meet the terms of this
policy, the AHTD's Right of Way Division will coordinate with the appropriate
AHTD District Engineer and request concurrence prior to issuing an RSVP permit.
For requests that do not meet the terms of this policy, the Right of Way
Division will respond accordingly. A permit must be issued or denied within
sixty (60) days.
5.4. The RSVP
Permittee will advise the AHTD's Beautification Section of planned vegetation
control activities at least three (3) working days prior to beginning work. The
AHTD, at its option, may arrange to have an inspector at the site while work is
being performed (See paragraph 3.23).