Senate Bill No. 368
(By Senator Hall)
[Introduced January 20, 2012; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §17-4-47 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to granting access to unused property of the Division of Highways to real property owners within a one-mile radius of the land.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §17-4-47 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. STATE ROAD SYSTEM.
§17-4-47. Access from commercial, etc., property and subdivisions to highways -- Purposes of regulation; right of access; provisions inapplicable to controlled-access facilities; removal of unauthorized access; bond for access.
(a) Reciprocal access between state highways and real property used or to be used for commercial, industrial or mercantile purposes and reciprocal access between state highways and real property that is subdivided into lots is a matter of public concern and shall be regulated by the Commissioner of Highways to achieve the following purposes:
(1) To provide for maximum safety of persons traveling upon, entering or leaving state highways;
(2) To provide for efficient and rapid movement of traffic upon state highways;
(3) To permit proper maintenance, repair and drainage of state highways; and
(4) To facilitate appropriate public use of state highways.
(b) Except where the right of access has been limited by or pursuant to law, every owner or occupant of real property abutting upon any existing state highway has a right of reasonable means of ingress to and egress from such state highway consistent with those policies expressed in subsection (a) of this section and any regulations issued by the commissioner under section forty-eight of this article.
(c) Except where the right of access has been limited by or pursuant to law, every owner or occupant of real property abutting upon or an owner of real property within a one-mile radius of any existing unused state highway land may apply to the commissioner for the right to make a noncommercial and nonpolitical use of the unused land. Appropriate use of the land may include, but is not limited to:
(1) Beatification of land by mowing and bailing of the hay, ditch or stream maintenance and litter removal;
(2) Residential gardening; and
(3) Other limited use of the property approved by the commissioner.
(c) (d) If the construction, relocation or reconstruction of any state highway, to be paid for, in whole or in part, with federal or state road funds, results in the abutment of real property as defined in subsection (a) of this section on the state highway that did not previously abut on it, no rights of direct access shall accrue because of such abutment. However, the commissioner may authorize or limit access from an abutting property if the property is compatible with the policies stated in subsection (a) of this section and any regulations issued by the commissioner as authorized by section forty-eight of this article.
(d) (e) The policies expressed in this section are applicable to state highways generally and shall in no way limit the authority of the Commissioner of Highways to establish controlled-access facilities under sections thirty-nine through forty-six, inclusive, of this article.
(e) (f) Any unauthorized access to a state highway may be removed, blocked, barricaded or closed in any manner considered necessary by the commissioner to protect the safety of the public and enforce the policies of this section and sections forty-eight, forty-nine and fifty of this article.
(f) (g) As a condition of granting access to a state highway, the commissioner may require the owners of real property developed or to be developed to provide a bond in an amount the commissioner determines necessary to compensate the division for improvements to highway facilities required as a result of the development. This bond shall be held a maximum of ten years. Provided, that No bond shall be required for any residential development consisting of one hundred homes or less.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to grant access to unused property of the Department of Highways to real property owners within a one-mile radius of the land for purposes of beautification and other limited uses approved by the commissioner.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.