The Division of Utility and Railroad Safety of the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has begun a campaign to educate the real estate industry about compliance with the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. The Act essentially provides that notification must be made to “Miss Utility,” who then is to mark utility lines, when excavating on another’s property. Excavation had been interpreted to include placing any real estate sign into the ground, including wire signs inserted by hand.

VAR relayed its concerns about the strict interpretation of the Act to staff at the SCC. In response, they proposed adopting advisory language to make clear that real estate agents or sign installers inserting wire signs by hand do not have to notify Miss Utility. At a recent meeting of the SCC Damage Prevention Advisory Committee, VAR’s Associate Counsel Blake Hegeman spoke in support of this language. After minor revisions, the Committee approved the following:

A person who inserts a wire sign holder into the ground by hand is not required to notify the notification center. However, the State Corporation Commission’s Damage Prevention Advisory Committee encourages contacting the notification center to avoid the potential for utility line damage and/or physical injury. (July 13, 2009)

As you can see, this language does not change the statute and only includes wire signs inserted by hand. Placing any other real estate sign still requires a call to Miss Utility. If you have any questions about this or any other matter please don’t hesitate to contact Blake, Lem or John.