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Franchises may be granted by the council, under the regulations provided in Section Nine of this act, subject to veto by the mayor, allowing to persons and corporations, for a limited time, the occupancy of portions of the streets, alleys, roads and public grounds as may be necessary for works of public utility and service, such as steam railway tracks, street railway tracks, poles and trolley wires, telegraph and telephone poles and subways, electric light and other electric poles, waterworks, wires, and subways and gas and steam pipe lines. But no such franchise shall hereafter be granted except under the following restrictions and conditions, namely:
No ordinance granting any franchise for the use of the streets, roads, alleys or public grounds of the municipality, for any of the purposes of public utility above named, or for any other purpose of like nature, except as hereinafter provided, shall be passed unless it shall have been first proposed in the council; and notice of the object, nature and extent of such franchise shall be published at least thirty days by the applicant, at his expense, in some newspaper published in said municipality, before being acting upon, and shall have received the votes of at least a majority of all of the members elected to the council and citizens appointed as provided in Section Nine, at a regular meeting or meetings, and after said publication. The votes thereon shall be taken by yeas and nays, and the same entered in the journal. Upon being passed by the council the ordinance granting said franchise shall be forthwith transmitted by the municipal clerk to the mayor for his approval or disapproval, and in case of his disapproval of same, it shall not be considered as passed unless it again receives the affirmative vote of a majority of the members elected to the council and citizens appointed as provided in Section Nine. If the franchise is amended, after having been vetoed by the mayor, it shall be subject to the veto of the mayor as in the first instance. After the ordinance granting such franchise has been passed, it shall be published in full, at the expense of the applicant, at least once within the period of ten days thereafter, in some newspaper of general circulation in the municipality and one copy of the same shall be filed with the municipal clerk, who shall preserve the same as a public record.
The council may grant a permit at any time in or upon any street, road, alley or public place; provided, that such permit may be revocable by the council at its pleasure, at any time, whether such right to revoke be expressly reserved in every such permit or not.
All franchises and privileges hereafter granted shall plainly specify on what particular streets, road, alley or other public property the same shall apply, and no franchise or privilege shall hereafter be granted by the municipality in general terms, or to apply to the municipality generally. No exclusive franchise shall ever be granted, and no franchise shall be renewed before three years prior to its expiration.
Every grant of any franchise shall be for a limited period of time. If no limit be expressly provided in the grant, the franchise shall be for one year only. In no case shall the franchise extend for a period exceeding thirty years.
No grant of any such franchise shall be made without, at the time of making it, providing that the grantee shall indemnify the municipality against all damages caused by the construction of such works. All reasonable additional provisions and conditions may be made for the protection of the public from unnecessary damages or inconveniences by reason of such works and the operation thereof.
No extension or enlargement of any franchise or grant of rights or powers previously granted to any corporation, person or association of persons, shall be made except in the manner and subject to all the conditions herein provided for the making of original grants of franchises.
Council shall, in suitable, practical terms, make it an express condition of the grant of a franchise, where it is for work that is useful chiefly to the local public, that, at the expiration of the franchise, the grantee shall, if required by the council, sell to the municipality the physical plant at what it is then worth independent of any value based upon the earning power thereof, and may also provide a means by arbitration or otherwise for determining what said value may be.
No grant of a franchise for any extension of, or addition to, any line of such work, over any street or territory in said municipality, shall be made for a period extending beyond the time limited for the expiration of the franchise of the principal work of which it is an extension, and if the franchise of the principal company or work is one which was granted before this act goes into effect, the franchise granted for the extension or addition shall nevertheless be subject to the condition hereof, including a time limit herein specified.
If a franchise secured from the municipality by an individual or by an independent or new company, and the work constructed thereunder afterwards become a part of, or to be operated as a part of, a large work of the same kind, whose franchise was previously obtained and is limited to expire earlier, such later franchise shall, by reason of such annexation, merger or single operation, expire simultaneously with such earlier franchise of the old company or work. An annual franchise tax of not less than fifty dollars shall be charged and collected on all franchises heretofore granted by the towns of Keyser and South Keyser or hereafter granted by the city.