November 18, 2019
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The Florida Statutes

The 2009 Florida Statutes

Title XXVI
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Chapter 337
CONTRACTING; ACQUISITION, DISPOSAL, AND USE OF PROPERTY
View Entire Chapter
Section 337.401, Florida Statutes 2009

337.401  Use of right-of-way for utilities subject to regulation; permit; fees.--

(1)  The department and local governmental entities, referred to in ss. 337.401-337.404 as the "authority," that have jurisdiction and control of public roads or publicly owned rail corridors are authorized to prescribe and enforce reasonable rules or regulations with reference to the placing and maintaining along, across, or on any road or publicly owned rail corridors under their respective jurisdictions any electric transmission, telephone, telegraph, or other communications services lines; pole lines; poles; railways; ditches; sewers; water, heat, or gas mains; pipelines; fences; gasoline tanks and pumps; or other structures referred to in this section as the "utility." For aerial and underground electric utility transmission lines designed to operate at 69 or more kilovolts that are needed to accommodate the additional electrical transfer capacity on the transmission grid resulting from new base-load generating facilities, where there is no other practicable alternative available for placement of the electric utility transmission lines on the department's rights-of-way, the department's rules shall provide for placement of and access to such transmission lines adjacent to and within the right-of-way of any department-controlled public roads, including longitudinally within limited access facilities to the greatest extent allowed by federal law, if compliance with the standards established by such rules is achieved. Such rules may include, but need not be limited to, that the use of the right-of-way is reasonable based upon a consideration of economic and environmental factors, including, without limitation, other practicable alternative alignments, utility corridors and easements, impacts on adjacent property owners, and minimum clear zones and other safety standards, and further provide that placement of the electric utility transmission lines within the department's right-of-way does not interfere with operational requirements of the transportation facility or planned or potential future expansion of such transportation facility. If the department approves longitudinal placement of electric utility transmission lines in limited access facilities, compensation for the use of the right-of-way is required. Such consideration or compensation paid by the electric utility in connection with the department's issuance of a permit does not create any property right in the department's property regardless of the amount of consideration paid or the improvements constructed on the property by the utility. Upon notice by the department that the property is needed for expansion or improvement of the transportation facility, the electric utility transmission line will relocate from the facility at the electric utility's sole expense. The electric utility shall pay to the department reasonable damages resulting from the utility's failure or refusal to timely relocate its transmission lines. The rules to be adopted by the department may also address the compensation methodology and relocation. As used in this subsection, the term "base-load generating facilities" means electric power plants that are certified under part II of chapter 403. The department may enter into a permit-delegation agreement with a governmental entity if issuance of a permit is based on requirements that the department finds will ensure the safety and integrity of facilities of the Department of Transportation; however, the permit-delegation agreement does not apply to facilities of electric utilities as defined in s. 366.02(2).

(2)  The authority may grant to any person who is a resident of this state, or to any corporation which is organized under the laws of this state or licensed to do business within this state, the use of a right-of-way for the utility in accordance with such rules or regulations as the authority may adopt. No utility shall be installed, located, or relocated unless authorized by a written permit issued by the authority. However, for public roads or publicly owned rail corridors under the jurisdiction of the department, a utility relocation schedule and relocation agreement may be executed in lieu of a written permit. The permit shall require the permitholder to be responsible for any damage resulting from the issuance of such permit. The authority may initiate injunctive proceedings as provided in s. 120.69 to enforce provisions of this subsection or any rule or order issued or entered into pursuant thereto.

(3)(a)  Because of the unique circumstances applicable to providers of communications services, including, but not limited to, the circumstances described in paragraph (e) and the fact that federal and state law require the nondiscriminatory treatment of providers of telecommunications services, and because of the desire to promote competition among providers of communications services, it is the intent of the Legislature that municipalities and counties treat providers of communications services in a nondiscriminatory and competitively neutral manner when imposing rules or regulations governing the placement or maintenance of communications facilities in the public roads or rights-of-way. Rules or regulations imposed by a municipality or county relating to providers of communications services placing or maintaining communications facilities in its roads or rights-of-way must be generally applicable to all providers of communications services and, notwithstanding any other law, may not require a provider of communications services to apply for or enter into an individual license, franchise, or other agreement with the municipality or county as a condition of placing or maintaining communications facilities in its roads or rights-of-way. In addition to other reasonable rules or regulations that a municipality or county may adopt relating to the placement or maintenance of communications facilities in its roads or rights-of-way under this subsection, a municipality or county may require a provider of communications services that places or seeks to place facilities in its roads or rights-of-way to register with the municipality or county and to provide the name of the registrant; the name, address, and telephone number of a contact person for the registrant; the number of the registrant's current certificate of authorization issued by the Florida Public Service Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, or the Department of State; and proof of insurance or self-insuring status adequate to defend and cover claims.

(b)  Registration described in paragraph (a) does not establish a right to place or maintain, or priority for the placement or maintenance of, a communications facility in roads or rights-of-way of a municipality or county. Each municipality and county retains the authority to regulate and manage municipal and county roads or rights-of-way in exercising its police power. Any rules or regulations adopted by a municipality or county which govern the occupation of its roads or rights-of-way by providers of communications services must be related to the placement or maintenance of facilities in such roads or rights-of-way, must be reasonable and nondiscriminatory, and may include only those matters necessary to manage the roads or rights-of-way of the municipality or county.

(c)1.  It is the intention of the state to treat all providers of communications services that use or occupy municipal or charter county roads or rights-of-way for the provision of communications services in a nondiscriminatory and competitively neutral manner with respect to the payment of permit fees. Certain providers of communications services have been granted by general law the authority to offset permit fees against franchise or other fees while other providers of communications services have not been granted this authority. In order to treat all providers of communications services in a nondiscriminatory and competitively neutral manner with respect to the payment of permit fees, each municipality and charter county shall make an election under either sub-subparagraph a. or sub-subparagraph b. and must inform the Department of Revenue of the election by certified mail by July 16, 2001. Such election shall take effect October 1, 2001.

a.(I)  The municipality or charter county may require and collect permit fees from any providers of communications services that use or occupy municipal or county roads or rights-of-way. All fees permitted under this sub-subparagraph must be reasonable and commensurate with the direct and actual cost of the regulatory activity, including issuing and processing permits, plan reviews, physical inspection, and direct administrative costs; must be demonstrable; and must be equitable among users of the roads or rights-of-way. A fee permitted under this sub-subparagraph may not: be offset against the tax imposed under chapter 202; include the costs of roads or rights-of-way acquisition or roads or rights-of-way rental; include any general administrative, management, or maintenance costs of the roads or rights-of-way; or be based on a percentage of the value or costs associated with the work to be performed on the roads or rights-of-way. In an action to recover amounts due for a fee not permitted under this sub-subparagraph, the prevailing party may recover court costs and attorney's fees at trial and on appeal. In addition to the limitations set forth in this section, a fee levied by a municipality or charter county under this sub-subparagraph may not exceed $100. However, permit fees may not be imposed with respect to permits that may be required for service drop lines not required to be noticed under s. 556.108(5)(a)2. or for any activity that does not require the physical disturbance of the roads or rights-of-way or does not impair access to or full use of the roads or rights-of-way.

(II)  To ensure competitive neutrality among providers of communications services, for any municipality or charter county that elects to exercise its authority to require and collect permit fees under this sub-subparagraph, the rate of the local communications services tax imposed by such jurisdiction, as computed under s. 202.20, shall automatically be reduced by a rate of 0.12 percent.

b.  Alternatively, the municipality or charter county may elect not to require and collect permit fees from any provider of communications services that uses or occupies municipal or charter county roads or rights-of-way for the provision of communications services; however, each municipality or charter county that elects to operate under this sub-subparagraph retains all authority to establish rules and regulations for providers of communications services to use or occupy roads or rights-of-way as provided in this section. If a municipality or charter county elects to operate under this sub-subparagraph, the total rate for the local communications services tax as computed under s. 202.20 for that municipality or charter county may be increased by ordinance or resolution by an amount not to exceed a rate of 0.12 percent. If a municipality or charter county elects to increase its rate effective October 1, 2001, the municipality or charter county shall inform the department of such increased rate by certified mail postmarked on or before July 16, 2001.

c.  A municipality or charter county that does not make an election as provided for in this subparagraph shall be presumed to have elected to operate under the provisions of sub-subparagraph b.

2.  Each noncharter county shall make an election under either sub-subparagraph a. or sub-subparagraph b. and shall inform the Department of Revenue of the election by certified mail by July 16, 2001. Such election shall take effect October 1, 2001.

a.  The noncharter county may elect to require and collect permit fees from any providers of communications services that use or occupy noncharter county roads or rights-of-way. All fees permitted under this sub-subparagraph must be reasonable and commensurate with the direct and actual cost of the regulatory activity, including issuing and processing permits, plan reviews, physical inspection, and direct administrative costs; must be demonstrable; and must be equitable among users of the roads or rights-of-way. A fee permitted under this sub-subparagraph may not: be offset against the tax imposed under chapter 202; include the costs of roads or rights-of-way acquisition or roads or rights-of-way rental; include any general administrative, management, or maintenance costs of the roads or rights-of-way; or be based on a percentage of the value or costs associated with the work to be performed on the roads or rights-of-way. In an action to recover amounts due for a fee not permitted under this sub-subparagraph, the prevailing party may recover court costs and attorney's fees at trial and on appeal. In addition to the limitations set forth in this section, a fee levied by a noncharter county under this sub-subparagraph may not exceed $100. However, permit fees may not be imposed with respect to permits that may be required for service drop lines not required to be noticed under s. 556.108(5)(a)2. or for any activity that does not require the physical disturbance of the roads or rights-of-way or does not impair access to or full use of the roads or rights-of-way.

b.  Alternatively, the noncharter county may elect not to require and collect permit fees from any provider of communications services that uses or occupies noncharter county roads or rights-of-way for the provision of communications services; however, each noncharter county that elects to operate under this sub-subparagraph shall retain all authority to establish rules and regulations for providers of communications services to use or occupy roads or rights-of-way as provided in this section. If a noncharter county elects to operate under this sub-subparagraph, the total rate for the local communications services tax as computed under s. 202.20 for that noncharter county may be increased by ordinance or resolution by an amount not to exceed a rate of 0.24 percent, to replace the revenue the noncharter county would otherwise have received from permit fees for providers of communications services. If a noncharter county elects to increase its rate effective October 1, 2001, the noncharter county shall inform the department of such increased rate by certified mail postmarked on or before July 16, 2001.

c.  A noncharter county that does not make an election as provided for in this subparagraph shall be presumed to have elected to operate under the provisions of sub-subparagraph b.

3.  Except as provided in this paragraph, municipalities and counties retain all existing authority to require and collect permit fees from users or occupants of municipal or county roads or rights-of-way and to set appropriate permit fee amounts.

(d)  After January 1, 2001, in addition to any other notice requirements, a municipality must provide to the Secretary of State, at least 10 days prior to consideration on first reading, notice of a proposed ordinance governing a telecommunications company placing or maintaining telecommunications facilities in its roads or rights-of-way. After January 1, 2001, in addition to any other notice requirements, a county must provide to the Secretary of State, at least 15 days prior to consideration at a public hearing, notice of a proposed ordinance governing a telecommunications company placing or maintaining telecommunications facilities in its roads or rights-of-way. The notice required by this paragraph must be published by the Secretary of State on a designated Internet website. The failure of a municipality or county to provide such notice does not render the ordinance invalid.

(e)  The authority of municipalities and counties to require franchise fees from providers of communications services, with respect to the provision of communications services, is specifically preempted by the state because of unique circumstances applicable to providers of communications services when compared to other utilities occupying municipal or county roads or rights-of-way. Providers of communications services may provide similar services in a manner that requires the placement of facilities in municipal or county roads or rights-of-way or in a manner that does not require the placement of facilities in such roads or rights-of-way. Although similar communications services may be provided by different means, the state desires to treat providers of communications services in a nondiscriminatory manner and to have the taxes, franchise fees, and other fees paid by providers of communications services be competitively neutral. Municipalities and counties retain all existing authority, if any, to collect franchise fees from users or occupants of municipal or county roads or rights-of-way other than providers of communications services, and the provisions of this subsection shall have no effect upon this authority. The provisions of this subsection do not restrict the authority, if any, of municipalities or counties or other governmental entities to receive reasonable rental fees based on fair market value for the use of public lands and buildings on property outside the public roads or rights-of-way for the placement of communications antennas and towers.

(f)  Except as expressly allowed or authorized by general law and except for the rights-of-way permit fees subject to paragraph (c), a municipality or county may not levy on a provider of communications services a tax, fee, or other charge or imposition for operating as a provider of communications services within the jurisdiction of the municipality or county which is in any way related to using its roads or rights-of-way. A municipality or county may not require or solicit in-kind compensation, except as otherwise provided in s. 202.24(2)(c)8. or s. 610.109. Nothing in this paragraph shall impair any ordinance or agreement in effect on May 22, 1998, or any voluntary agreement entered into subsequent to that date, which provides for or allows in-kind compensation by a telecommunications company.

(g)  A municipality or county may not use its authority over the placement of facilities in its roads and rights-of-way as a basis for asserting or exercising regulatory control over a provider of communications services regarding matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Florida Public Service Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, including, but not limited to, the operations, systems, qualifications, services, service quality, service territory, and prices of a provider of communications services.

(h)  A provider of communications services that has obtained permission to occupy the roads or rights-of-way of an incorporated municipality pursuant to s. 362.01 or that is otherwise lawfully occupying the roads or rights-of-way of a municipality shall not be required to obtain consent to continue such lawful occupation of those roads or rights-of-way; however, nothing in this paragraph shall be interpreted to limit the power of a municipality to adopt or enforce reasonable rules or regulations as provided in this section.

(i)  Except as expressly provided in this section, this section does not modify the authority of municipalities and counties to levy the tax authorized in chapter 202 or the duties of providers of communications services under ss. 337.402-337.404. This section does not apply to building permits, pole attachments, or private roads, private easements, and private rights-of-way.

(j)  Pursuant to this paragraph, any county or municipality may by ordinance change either its election made on or before July 16, 2001, under paragraph (c) or an election made under this paragraph.

1.a.  If a municipality or charter county changes its election under this paragraph in order to exercise its authority to require and collect permit fees in accordance with this subsection, the rate of the local communications services tax imposed by such jurisdiction pursuant to ss. 202.19 and 202.20 shall automatically be reduced by the sum of 0.12 percent plus the percentage, if any, by which such rate was increased pursuant to sub-subparagraph (c)1.b.

b.  If a municipality or charter county changes its election under this paragraph in order to discontinue requiring and collecting permit fees, the rate of the local communications services tax imposed by such jurisdiction pursuant to ss. 202.19 and 202.20 may be increased by ordinance or resolution by an amount not to exceed 0.24 percent.

2.a.  If a noncharter county changes its election under this paragraph in order to exercise its authority to require and collect permit fees in accordance with this subsection, the rate of the local communications services tax imposed by such jurisdiction pursuant to ss. 202.19 and 202.20 shall automatically be reduced by the percentage, if any, by which such rate was increased pursuant to sub-subparagraph (c)2.b.

b.  If a noncharter county changes its election under this paragraph in order to discontinue requiring and collecting permit fees, the rate of the local communications services tax imposed by such jurisdiction pursuant to ss. 202.19 and 202.20 may be increased by ordinance or resolution by an amount not to exceed 0.24 percent.

3.a.  Any change of election pursuant to this paragraph and any tax rate change resulting from such change of election shall be subject to the notice requirements of s. 202.21; however, no such change of election shall become effective prior to January 1, 2003.

b.  Any county or municipality changing its election under this paragraph in order to exercise its authority to require and collect permit fees shall, in addition to complying with the notice requirements under s. 202.21, provide to all dealers providing communications services in such jurisdiction written notice of such change of election by September 1 immediately preceding the January 1 on which such change of election becomes effective. For purposes of this sub-subparagraph, dealers providing communications services in such jurisdiction shall include every dealer reporting tax to such jurisdiction pursuant to s. 202.37 on the return required under s. 202.27 to be filed on or before the 20th day of May immediately preceding the January 1 on which such change of election becomes effective.

(k)  Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 202.19, when a local communications services tax rate is changed as a result of an election made or changed under this subsection, such rate shall not be rounded to tenths.

(4)  As used in this section, "communications services" and "dealer" have the same meanings ascribed in chapter 202, and "cable service" has the same meaning ascribed in 47 U.S.C. s. 522, as amended.

(5)  This section, except subsections (1) and (2) and paragraph (3)(g), does not apply to the provision of pay telephone service on public, municipal, or county roads or rights-of-way.

(6)(a)  As used in this subsection, the following definitions apply:

1.  A "pass-through provider" is any person who places or maintains a communications facility in the roads or rights-of-way of a municipality or county that levies a tax pursuant to chapter 202 and who does not remit taxes imposed by that municipality or county pursuant to chapter 202.

2.  A "communications facility" is a facility that may be used to provide communications services. Multiple cables, conduits, strands, or fibers located within the same conduit shall be considered one communications facility for purposes of this subsection.

(b)  A municipality that levies a tax pursuant to chapter 202 may charge a pass-through provider that places or maintains a communications facility in the municipality's roads or rights-of-way an annual amount not to exceed $500 per linear mile or portion thereof. A municipality's roads or rights-of-way do not include roads or rights-of-way that extend in or through the municipality but are state, county, or another authority's roads or rights-of-way.

(c)  A county that levies a tax pursuant to chapter 202 may charge a pass-through provider that places or maintains a communications facility in the county's roads or rights-of-way, including county roads or rights-of-way within a municipality in the county, an annual amount not to exceed $500 per linear mile or portion thereof. However, a county shall not impose a charge for any linear miles, or portions thereof, of county roads or rights-of-way where a communications facility is placed that extend through any municipality within the county to which the pass-through provider remits a tax imposed pursuant to chapter 202. A county's roads or rights-of-way do not include roads or rights-of-way that extend in or through the county but are state, municipal, or another authority's roads or rights-of-way.

(d)  The amounts charged pursuant to this subsection shall be based on the linear miles of roads or rights-of-way where a communications facility is placed, not based on a summation of the lengths of individual cables, conduits, strands, or fibers. The amounts referenced in this subsection may be charged only once annually and only to one person annually for any communications facility. A municipality or county shall discontinue charging such amounts to a person that has ceased to be a pass-through provider. Any annual amounts charged shall be reduced for a prorated portion of any 12-month period during which the person remits taxes imposed by the municipality or county pursuant to chapter 202. Any excess amounts paid to a municipality or county shall be refunded to the person upon written notice of the excess to the municipality or county.

(e)  This subsection does not alter any provision of this section or s. 202.24 relating to taxes, fees, or other charges or impositions by a municipality or county on a dealer of communications services or authorize that any charges be assessed on a dealer of communications services, except as specifically set forth herein. A municipality or county may not charge a pass-through provider any amounts other than the charges under this subsection as a condition to the placement or maintenance of a communications facility in the roads or rights-of-way of a municipality or county by a pass-through provider, except that a municipality or county may impose permit fees on a pass-through provider consistent with paragraph (3)(c) if the municipality or county elects to exercise its authority to collect permit fees under paragraph (3)(c).

(f)  The charges under this subsection do not apply to communications facilities placed in a municipality's or county's rights-of-way prior to the effective date of this subsection with permission from the municipality or county, if any was required, except to the extent the facilities of a pass-through provider were subject to per linear foot or mile charges in effect as of October 1, 2001, in which case the municipality or county may only impose on a pass-through provider charges consistent with paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) for such facilities. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this subsection does not impair any written agreement between a pass-through provider and a municipality or county imposing per linear foot or mile charges for communications facilities placed in municipal or county roads or rights-of-way that is in effect prior to the effective date of this subsection. Upon the termination or expiration of any such written agreement, any charges imposed shall be consistent with paragraph (b) or paragraph (c). Notwithstanding the foregoing, until October 1, 2005, this subsection shall not affect a municipality or county continuing to impose charges in excess of the charges authorized in this subsection on facilities of a pass-through provider that is not a dealer of communications services in the state under chapter 202, but only to the extent such charges were imposed by municipal or county ordinance or resolution adopted prior to February 1, 2002. Effective October 1, 2005, any charges imposed shall be consistent with paragraph (b) or paragraph (c).

(g)  The charges authorized in this subsection shall not be applied with respect to any communications facility that is used exclusively for the internal communications of an electric utility or other person in the business of transmitting or distributing electric energy.

History.--s. 127, ch. 29965, 1955; s. 1, ch. 63-279; s. 1, ch. 65-52; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 141, ch. 84-309; s. 8, ch. 85-174; s. 8, ch. 86-155; ss. 2, 21, ch. 88-168; s. 8, ch. 89-232; s. 41, ch. 91-221; s. 26, ch. 94-237; s. 1, ch. 98-147; s. 2, ch. 99-354; ss. 50, 51, 58, 59, ch. 2000-260; ss. 34, 35, 38, ch. 2001-140; s. 81, ch. 2002-20; s. 6, ch. 2002-48; s. 57, ch. 2003-286; s. 13, ch. 2004-366; s. 6, ch. 2005-171; s. 10, ch. 2006-138; s. 5, ch. 2007-29; s. 29, ch. 2008-227.

Note.--Former s. 338.17.

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