136-93.  Openings, structures, pipes, trees, and issuance of permits.

(a)        No opening or other interference whatsoever shall be made in any State road or highway other than streets not maintained by the Department of Transportation in cities and towns, nor shall any structure be placed thereon, nor shall any structure which has been placed thereon be changed or removed except in accordance with a written permit from the Department of Transportation or its duly authorized officers, who shall exercise complete and permanent control over such roads and highways. No State road or State highway, other than streets not maintained by the Department of Transportation in cities and towns, shall be dug up for laying or placing pipes, conduits, sewers, wires, railways, or other objects, and no obstruction placed thereon, without a written permit as hereinbefore provided for, and then only in accordance with the regulations of said Department of Transportation or its duly authorized officers or employees; and the work shall be under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the Department of Transportation or its officers or employees, and the entire expense of replacing the highway in as good condition as before shall be paid by the persons, firms, or corporations to whom the permit is given, or by whom the work is done. The Department of Transportation, or its duly authorized officers, may, in its discretion, before granting a permit under the provisions of this section, require the applicant to file a satisfactory bond, payable to the State of North Carolina, in such an amount as may be deemed sufficient by the Department of Transportation or its duly authorized officers, conditioned upon the proper compliance with the requirements of this section by the person, firm, or corporation granted such permit. Any person making any opening in a State road or State highway, or placing any structure thereon, or changing or removing any structure thereon without obtaining a written permit as herein provided, or not in compliance with the terms of such permit, or otherwise violating the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor: Provided, this section shall not apply to railroad crossings. The railroads shall keep up said crossings as now provided by law.

(b)        Except as provided in G.S. 136-133.1(g), no vegetation, including any tree, shrub, or underbrush, in or on any right-of-way of a State road or State highway shall be planted, cut, trimmed, pruned, or removed without a written selective vegetation removal permit issued pursuant to G.S. 136-133.2 and in accordance with the rules of the Department. Requests for a permit for selective vegetation cutting, thinning, pruning, or removal shall be made by the owner of an outdoor advertising sign or the owner of a business facility to the appropriate person in the Division of Highways office on a form prescribed by the Department. For purposes of this section, G.S. 136-133.1, 136-133.2, and 136-133.4, the phrase "outdoor advertising" shall mean the outdoor advertising expressly permitted under G.S. 136-129(a)(4) [G.S. 136-129(4)] or G.S. 136-129(a)(5) [G.S. 136-129(5)]. These provisions shall not be used to provide visibility to on-premises signs.

(c)        For outdoor advertising, vegetation cut or removal limits shall be restricted to a maximum selective vegetation cut or removal zone for each sign face pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 136-133.1.

(d)       If the application for vegetation cutting, thinning, pruning, or removal is for a site located within the corporate limits of a municipality, the municipality shall be given 30 days to review and provide comments on the application if the municipality has previously advised the Department in writing of the desire to review such applications and the name of the local official to whom notice of such application should be directed.  (1921, c. 2, s. 13; 1923, c. 160, s. 2; C.S., s. 3846(u); 1933, c. 172, s. 17; 1943, c. 410; 1957, c. 65, s. 11; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; 1977, c. 464, s. 7.1; 1993, c. 539, s. 992; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2011-397, s. 1.)