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18.30.250 Underground Utilities
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A. Applicability

1. When Required

Utility wires and cables shall be placed underground in subsurface conduits or other suitable and acceptable method of underground installation when they are installed or replaced for electric, communication or other similar or associated service as part of:

a. New construction of a structure; or

b. Construction of an expansion greater than fifty (50) percent of the square footage of an existing structure; or

c. Reconstruction of an existing structure damaged greater than fifty (50) percent of its fair market value as set by the Johnson County, Kansas Appraiser.

2. Exemptions

This section does not apply to:

a. Electric power lines rated at or above “feeder” line class;

b. Any telecable, communication or other similar or related service lines rated at or above “trunk” line class;

c. Existing poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures, when part of a continuous line, or existing services to individual properties from an existing overhead line. All future extensions or service connections from these lines shall be placed underground. This chapter does not prevent the replacement of poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures on these lines when necessary to maintain the line or upgrade the line’s capacity, or, in the case of single-phase lines, the addition of necessary facilities to three (3) phasing of the line;

d. Radio and television antennas;

e. Existing overhead lines attached to the exterior surface of a building by means of a bracket or other fixture and extending from one (1) location on the building to another location on the same building, or to an adjacent building without crossing a property line;

f. Poles used exclusively for street or area lighting or for traffic-control facilities;

g. Service terminals, transformers, regulators, meters or other on- and above-ground facilities normally used with and as a part of an underground distribution system;

h. Electric substations and the accompanying equipment and apparatus necessary to provide adequate electric service.

B. Standards

The underground installation shall meet existing safety standards prescribed by the City Council, based upon the National Electric Code (NEC).

C. Coordination of Installation

1. The applicant shall make the necessary arrangements to install underground facilities, including circuits for street lights and traffic signals that are required by the City.

2. The arrangements shall be made with each of the companies or persons supplying the electrical and communications service to the development, in accordance with the established charges of the company or person.

3. Letters from each company or person, indicating that these arrangements have been made, shall be submitted to the Planning Division at the time the final subdivision plat or site development plan is filed.

D. Temporary Modifications

1. The Planning Official may temporarily waive a requirement of this section if:

a. The waiver is the minimum necessary to mitigate an unnecessary hardship due to site constraints, or

b. The revisions assure compatibility with land owners within two hundred (200) feet of the boundary of the area, or

c. Temporary electrical power or communication service is reasonably required for emergencies or for building construction purposes, or

d. For other temporary purposes.

2. A temporary waiver allows the applicant to erect, construct, install or maintain poles, wires and other overhead structures for a period not to exceed one hundred twenty (120) days.

3. If the purpose for which the temporary waiver is granted cannot be completed within the period provided above, the Planning Official may approve an additional temporary period or periods necessary to allow completion of such construction. Grounds for an extension of time including a shortage of material, a natural disaster, strikes or other circumstances beyond the control of the parties, or unusual hardships.

E. Permanent Variances

Persons or utility providers required to place cables and wires underground may appeal by submitting a written request for a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board may grant full or partial relief based on good cause such as the following factors:

1. Character of surrounding neighborhood and whether wires and cables are underground.

2. Extremely high cost of placing the wires and cables underground in relation to the proposed development.

3. Potential of serious environmental or aesthetic damage such as the removal of significant numbers of trees.

F. Special Exception

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the City Council may grant special exceptions on a permanent or temporary basis to this section on terms that the City Council deems appropriate in cases of emergency or unusual circumstances to any party to erect, construct, install, maintain, use or operate poles and overhead wires and associated overhead structures.

G. Hold Harmless

The utility, its successors and assigns, shall save and hold harmless the City of Olathe, Kansas, from all liability, costs, damages, and expenses of every kind, for the payment of which the City may become liable to any person, firm or corporation by reason of any negligence by the utility in the construction, maintenance and operation of its utility system within the City of Olathe.

H. Underground Wiring Prohibited

The installation, placement or maintenance of any and all underground electrical or communication wiring or associated structures or facilities, whether above or underground, is prohibited in all floodplains, flood-prone areas, drainage easements, major drainageways, or any other area where the possibility of standing water exists. Where electrical or communication service wiring must cross those areas, easements or ways, they must be elevated and installed to be reasonably free from flood or storm water runoff damage.

I. Definitions

The words and phrases used in this section have the following meanings:

Poles, overhead wires, and associated overhead structures

Includes, but is not limited to, poles, towers, supports, wires, conductors, guys, stubs, platforms, cross-arms, braces, line transformers, insulators, cut-outs, switches, communication circuits, appliances, attachments and appurtenances located above ground, upon, along, across or over the streets, alleys and easements, and used in supplying electric, communication or similar or related service.

Feeder Line

That portion of an electrical circuit which provides power from a power substation and which has a rated capacity of three thousand (3,000) KVA or greater.

Trunk Line

Those utility lines within a distribution system with a three-quarter (0.75) inch diameter. (Ord. 17-52 §§ 15, 41, 2017; Ord. 02-54 § 2, 2002)