Ridgeland passes utility boring ordinance
In order to minimize damage to utility lines, Ridgeland officials passed a new zoning ordinance to slow the rate of boring operations in the city limits and hold operators accountalbe.
“Right now we are doing the best we can with what we have but can't keep up,” Public Works Director Alan Hart told Mayor Gene F. McGee and the city board at last Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
He noted that city crews have been working nights and weekends to repair water lines throughout the city. Hart noted that ruptured or damaged water lines not only affect the water quality and access for individual customers but can also make it more difficult for the fire department to get water from hydrants to fight fires, for example.
Hart said the number of permits and frequency of fixes have made it difficult to identify which permit holder is responsible and much of this work is going unreimbursed.
Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith said that water line damage from boring projects has been “out of control” for more than 10 years.
”It is way past time to reel it in,” Smith said.
Hart said the new ordinance would require permit holders to locate utility lines. It would also limit the hours of boring operations from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
It would also limit permits to cover no more than 1,500 linear feet.
Per the ordinance, a permit holder in violation of the ordinance will get a warning following their first offense. After that, they are subject to a $500 fine and up to a $1,000 fine. Hart noted that each day a permit holder is in violation of the ordinance will be counted as a separate offense.
“Other cities have similar policies in place,” Hart said.
Hart said there are “drawbacks” in that this will likely lower the volume of boring projects in the city at any given time but will make dealing with any potential problems related to the practice more “manageable.”
“Right now we are dealing with break after break after break,” Hart said.
He said the ordinance prioritizes the health and safety of residents.
The ordinance was made effective immediately. Hart said it was necessary for the entire board to be present to pass an ordinance that goes into effect the day it is passed.
Smith motioned to pass the ordinance and Ward 4 Alderman Brian Ramsey seconded. The item to adopt an ordinance establishing regulations governing boring operations within the city of Ridgeland passed unanimously 7-0.