Roadside Memorial

[SAHUARITA,AZ Dec. 12th, 2023]

Purpose

The Town of Sahuarita is charged with maintaining the right of way free of encroachments to enable motorists to recover if it becomes necessary to leave the roadway. The purpose of this policy is to allow mourners to express themselves and provide a reminder of a fatal accident to the public while still protecting and preserving the right of way for all users. 

This policy provides family and friends of persons fatally injured in traffic accidents the opportunity to memorialize their loved ones by placing authorized Roadside Memorials/Ghost Bikes (Memorials) within the public rights-of-way in a safe and consistent manner as the placement of memorials within a road right of way can create their own safety hazards.

Memorials placed on private property are not subject to Public Works’ standards; however, depending on the size, type and materials used, memorials on private property may be subject to review by the Planning and Building Department. 

 

Policy

Town staff will administer this policy with the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and impartiality, and with the utmost respect for the deceased person and grieving family. Memorials may be placed for traffic-related fatalities that occur on dedicated Town roads as long as they are well maintained by others and do not pose a safety hazard or sight visibility issue. A request to place a marker must be submitted to the Town by the victim’s family or a person who has written permission from the victim’s family. One marker is allowed per victim.

The request should be submitted to the Permit Compliance Coordinator with a Right of Way Use Application. The request should include the proposed design of the marker and where the family or its designee wishes to place the marker. There is no charge for the Right of Way Use Permit for memorials.

The Town will work with those making requests on the exact location of a marker to ensure proper and safe placement. A marker should be placed as far as possible from the edge of the road surface. Markers should be near a utility pole or at the edge of an area that isn’t mowed. Markers should be designed and located in a way that doesn’t distract motorists. 

A marker may not be placed in a median; located in front of developed property unless the owner of that property gives written permission to the family or its designee; or affixed to traffic-control devices, signs, signals, light poles, trees, walls, fences, or other features.

There are limits to the size of markers and to the materials that may be used to create markers.

Memorials:

  • May be no more than 30 inches high and no more than 18 inches wide.
  • May have a foundation no more than 12 inches deep, and that foundation shall not involve concrete or metal footings.
  • May be fabricated from wood or plastic/composite material.
  • May include components no larger than 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide.
  • May include a plaque up to 6 inches by 6 inches and 1/16-inch-thick listing the victim's name, date of birth and date of death.
  • A marker may not include a photograph.

Ghost Bike: 

  • May not be larger than a standard bicycle. 
  • May have a foundation no more than 12 inches deep, and that foundation shall not involve concrete or metal footings.
  • May be fabricated from materials used for typical bicycles. 
  • May include a plaque up to 6 inches by 6 inches and 1/16-inch-thick listing the victim's name, date of birth and date of death.
  • May not include a photograph.

A memorial that meets the standards may receive Town approval if the family provides a contact in case the marker falls into disrepair or must be moved for roadway maintenance or a construction project.

If a permit is not obtained and a roadside memorial poses an immediate safety hazard, Town staff will document the location; photograph the memorial; respectfully remove it and post a notice that it has been removed; and provide contact information for pick-up of the memorial. If the memorial owner contact information is on file, that owner will be notified.

If a permit is not obtained for a memorial that doesn’t meet safety standards but doesn’t pose an immediate hazard it will be marked with a notice that the family has 30 days to remove it. After that period, Town staff will respectfully remove the memorial after documenting and photographing the contents and will leave a notice telling family members where the items may be picked up. 

The Town will store all removed items for at least 60 days. Families or designees whose memorials must be removed are encouraged to work with Town staff to place an approved marker.

If a memorial falls into disrepair but doesn’t pose a hazard to the public, the Town will attempt to contact the family/designee to notify them that they have 30 days to repair or remove it. After that period, Town personnel will respectfully remove the memorial after documenting and photographing the contents. Should a memorial need to be removed, the Town will store the items for at least 60 days to allow the family/designee to claim the items.

Memorials may remain within the public right-of-way for one (1) year from the date of installation or registration, whichever occurs first.  Upon expiration of this one (1) year period, the Registrant will have thirty (30) days in which to remove the Memorial from the site or apply for a one (1) year extension to the permit. 

The Town reserves the right to decline a permit or permit extension. Additionally, the Town reserves the right to revise the policy requirements. 

Alternatively, friends or family members may purchase a Memorial Tree to be planted in accordance with the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Memorial Tree Program by contacting the Parks and Facilities Manager.