Petitions related to Real Property
The City of Savannah uses the petition process to consider requests regarding City-owned real property. Examples of these types of requests include encroachment, easement, declaring City-owned property surplus and available for sale to the public, donation of property, and the use of City-owned property.
Two types of petition forms are generally used for these requests:
- Petition for Encroachment Application
- Petition for Real Property Application (other than Encroachments)
Petitions for Encroachment
An encroachment is any item or structure that extends beyond private property and onto City property. (i.e., rights of way, tree zone, sidewalk, streets). These encroachments can be above, below or on the earth's surface.
Typical Examples of Encroaching items include (but not limited to):
- Business Signage
- Specialty materials, such as decorative paving (Brick sidewalk/stamped asphalt)
- Building foundations/footings
- Irrigation/Sprinkler systems
- Lighting Fixtures
- Subdivision Entranceway Signs
- Private Utility Systems
Why is Encroachment Authorization Necessary?
Encroachment approval is a process in which petitioners request use of public right-of-way. The review process is intended to ensure the health and safety of the public as well as protect against potential damage to the streetscape, trees and vegetation, sidewalks, streets, and other publicly-owned amenities. A Revocable License for Encroachment Agreement is a written confirmation between the City and an owner of property which allows a structure to extend onto City property. It is used to define the responsibilities for installation, liability and maintenance.
Process for Requesting Approval for an Encroachment
A completed original petition for encroachment is submitted to the Clerk of Council’s office. The application should include exhibits (photos, sketches, etc.) to support the request (specific submittal criteria is listed within the Petition for Encroachment form). The Clerk’s office will log the petition in, and send it to the department of Real Property Services for processing and initial review. Note: If the petitioner is not the legal property owner, a signed owner’s agreement is required.
Once the submittal is deemed complete, the request will be sent to various City departments for further review and recommendation.
Typical Bureau/Department review includes:
- Development Services/City Engineer
- Public Works and Water Resources Bureau
- Traffic and Streets Department
- Water, Sewer, and Stormwater Utilities Departments
- Park and Tree Department
Once all staff responses are received, Real Property Services will compile the recommendations and forward them to the City Manager for scheduling before City Council. If the petition for encroachment is approved by the Mayor and Aldermen, then both parties (petitioner and City) execute a Revocable License Encroachment Agreement If staff recommends denial during the initial review, petitioners have the right to appeal to City Council for final approval. If the petition involves a minor encroachment, it can be decided at staff level (City Manager).
Please note the processing of petitions requires approximately eight (8) to ten (10) weeks for department reviews, scheduling for Council, Council consideration, and execution of agreements. Please be sure to plan accordingly so that your project is not adversely impacted by the time associated with the process.
What does a Petition for Encroachment Cost?
The petition for encroachment includes a one-time application fee, meaning that once approved, there are no additional yearly charges for continuance of the encroachment. The fees are non-refundable, and are due at the time of application. The fees for processing and reviewing an encroachment petition application are as follows:
- $500 for commercial projects or multi-unit housing projects
- $250 for single residential requests
Note: Fees paid do not provide any guarantee of approval.
Revocable License Encroachment Agreement
A Revocable License Encroachment Agreement is a written confirmation between the City and the owner of a property which allows a structure to extend onto City property and defines the responsibilities for installation, liability and maintenance. The Revocable License Encroachment Agreement is executed once the petition is approved by Council. It is signed and notarized by the Property Owner and then signed and notarized by the City Manager. The agreement will be recorded in the Chatham County Court Clerk's Office. This agreement will travel with the property and transfer to new owners if the property is ever deeded to another party.
General Information Regarding Encroachments
- A petition for encroachment is required by the City of Savannah for items that encroach on public property including rights-of-way and dedicated easements.
- Approval of the encroachment is by a majority vote of the City Council.
- Encroachment approval should not be confused with building, site, or sign permits issued by the Development Services Department for the actual construction or installation of items within the right-of-way.The holder of an approved encroachment is responsible for securing all necessary construction/building permits.
- Encroachments are usually allowed to remain as built with an encroachment agreement in effect however; the City may place conditions on any future alterations to those encroaching improvements.
- If any encroaching structure is deemed to be causing a safety hazard or interfering with the maintenance of a utility, the City or utility company will require it to be removed, at the owner's cost.
- Encroachments should not be confused with right-of-way work permits issued by the City of Savannah’s Traffic and Streets Department for work to be completed within a street, lane or sidewalk. View more information on right-of-way work permits.
- An encroachment must comply with all existing City codes, rules and regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City's Zoning Ordinance, Sign Ordinance and other applicable ordinances.
- Outdoor dining items (i.e. chairs, tables, umbrellas, etc.), although considered encroachments, are handled through the City of Savannah Tourism Management and Ambassadorship department. To learn more, visit their website.
Petitions for Real Property (other than Encroachments)
Real Property Services handles various requests involving City-owned property. Some of the more typical requests include easements, declaring City-owned property surplus and available for sale to the public, donation of property, and use of City-owned property.
Process for approval of Real Property Requests (other than Encroachments)
A completed petition form is submitted to the Clerk of Council's office. The petition should include as much information regarding the request as possible including addresses, PIN numbers, etc. The Clerk's office will log the petition, and send it to the department of Real Property Services for processing and initial review.
The request will be sent to various City offices for further review and recommendation. The review of this request will take two to three weeks depending on the complexity of the application.
Once all staff responses are received, Real Property Services will compile the recommendation and forward them to the City Manager for scheduling before City Council. If the request is approved by the Mayor and Aldermen, Real Property Services will inform the petitioner of the next steps to closing out the request, which may require an executed agreement and/or a closing.