metal frame signOfficials at the State Corporation Commission, after several meetings with VAR staff, have agreed that Realtors who install metal frame signs (such as the one pictured here) by hand on a property do not need to call Miss Utility first. Considering the number of Realtors in the Commonwealth who use metal frame signs, this is a significant event.

Virginia’s Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act has required anyone "excavating" to install a sign to first contact Miss Utility and wait — up to three days — for all utility lines to be marked. Recently, the SCC began a campaign to remind people of this law, and the fact that the installation of anything other than so-called small "coat hanger" signs could be considered "excavating."

Under this interpretation, Realtors using common, metal frame signs had to call Miss Utility before installing them. VAR believed this definition of "excavation" was overly strict.

After many discussions with VAR, the SCC staff concurred. On November 13, SCC Director of Utility and Railroad Safety Massoud Tahamtani sent a letter to VAR (PDF download) Vice President for Law & Policy, John Broadway, making that absolutely clear:

As interpreted and applied by the Division, the installation of a metal frame sign that is done by hand and does not involve movement or displacement of earth or other material "by means of any tools, equipment…" is not considered a form of excavation that would require a person to contact the Miss Utility notification center. However, if the installation requires use of a hammer, shovel or other tools, rather than by simply pushing the sign into the ground, then the Act requires the installer to contact Miss Utility.

Keep in mind that this announcement only affects the installation of metal frame signs. Signs requiring digging or movement of dirt to install (such as 4×4 post signs) DO necessitate a call to Miss Utility.

We’re proud of the leadership VAR has shown in these negotiations with the SCC staff and hope you agree that this resolution is helpful to your business.