Alley Alternatives

As many of you have probably already faced the reality of stubborn utility companies unwilling to compromise on their design standards, we are constantly faced with trying to establish creative alternatives to overcoming this major hurdle in New Urbanism.

We have decided on one such approach and I would love to hear input from others with experience in this particular issue.

Our strategy:
After months of wrangling with the electric company as to where they should place there transformers and pedestals we have finally found something which got the wheels turning again. We had originally designated our alley's as 20' ROW with 16' UE's starting from the rear build line and utilizing part of the 20' ROW. The electric company was adamant about not using any ROW for a UE. To overcome this we have proposed to now call the 20' ROW's "20' U.E.'s/Access." We have made it no secret that our garages face the alley's, but we promised not to pave the alley and leave it as a gravel road "country road" look.
For some reason now the electric company seems willing to move forward, but I would love to see others thoughts' on this issue and find out if anyone was able to come up with a better solution to this ongoing problem? Also,Having a larger Alley is not an alternative.


Good question: Let's ask someone from pro-urb to chime in here

I'll post this question there and provide a link back to this Salon discussion.
Check back.

Service Ways

I have had similar problems in Florida. I have great success in changing the name of Alley to Service Way. Throughout the state, municipalities have begun to adopt Alleys into their schedule of typical street sections. The problem is that they apply State Fire Code Regulations that require 20’ of clear pavement, and apply a 10’ service easement along one side of the Alley. A small 20’ right of way, with 12’ of pavement now has become a 30’ street which now looks like a street.

I have found success by reviewing the land development codes to find the right terms for what I want to achieve. Terms like Service Ways, or Shared Driveways, can be used to describe the alley that you desire. The Service way can be placed on a shared easement placed along the rear of lots.

Pavement is a real problem. In Florida, I would not be able to get any roadway approved if it is gravel. There is a difficult contradiction with designing an urban lot type and providing a gravel alley. Power companies do not need 10’ to lay wires. They require these easements to be able to get their trucks into a location to repair lines. You do not have to commit placing the power lines under pavement. You may be able to get the dimensions of the actual power line trenches, you could place the trenches on the one side of your alley, and pave on the other side.

Regardless of pavement type, I would explore the option of the Home Owners Association, taking responsibility of maintaining and replacing your alleys. The real concern of the power company may be that they do not want the liability or responsibility when they have to dig up you alley ways.

Edward W. Erfurt IV

Senior Associate
Canin Associates
500 Delaney Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
407.422.4040ph 407.425.7427fx


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